Tuesday 26 May 2020

End of the line: government plans to ban unsolicited sales calls

The service allows people to report malpractice anonymously.

The government has set out plans to ban cold calling by companies in favour of an ‘opt-in’ system for telephone marketing.

Junior economic affairs minister Mona Keijzer said the move would provide better protection than the current ‘bel-me-niet-register’, which allows people to choose to be excluded from sales calls.

Call centre managers said the ban would lead to the loss of thousands of jobs, many of them part-time posts for students and parents who are looking after children at home.

Keijzer said half of all consumers were irritated by unsolicited sales calls, making a ban desirable. In future companies will only be allowed to make marketing calls to people who explicitly agree to receive them.

Consent could be sought by opting in through companies’ websites, in the same way that consumers have to be asked to be added to mailing lists.

Companies that repeatedly fail to observe the ban will face fines, Keijzer said. ‘At first there’ll be a polite request, but if people still don’t listen, they’ll have to feel it.’

Nikos van der Laan, owner of telemarketing firm Convins, said the largest call centre companies with more than 100 booths would be hardest hit. ‘I have to wonder how far this plan has taken into account the consequences for jobs,’ he told NOS.

Keijzer also said she wanted to introduce more stringent safety standards for domestic appliances that are connected to the internet, such as thermostats and smart TVs. Companies will be obliged to offer free security upgrades unless customers opt out.


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