Making Irritating Call Centers Pay

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There is a right royal fight (sorry, in German) brewing in Germany over irritating call centres. You know who I mean; the ones who call you uninvited in the middle of dinner to offer you the bargain of a lifetime (not!).

In Germany, the ‘Gesetz gegen den Unlauteren Wettbewerb’ (unfair competition law) explicitly forbids the cold calling of private customers. But due to poor policing of the law and weak sanctions for call centres who break the law, increasing numbers of call centres are cold calling customers regardless and are hiding their identity to make complaints more difficult.

In response to growing criticism, the Justice Ministry and the Business Ministry are proposing stiff fines for call centres who cold call or who hide their identity. Characteristically, the three industry organisations with the most to loose – the Call Center Forum, The Deutsch Direktmarketing Verband and Kundendialog in Deutschland – have complained bitterly that this will make their business more difficult. Truth be told, they have introduced a few half-hearted measures to combat irritating cold calls, but they are widely seen as much too little, much too late, implemented with much too little enthusiasm.

What never ceases to amaze me is how little attention is paid to what customers want by the call centre industry in general. And by the three organisations that represent the industry. In general, customers don’t want to be called by uninvited campanies, they don’t want to hear about these companies’ me-too products and most of all, they don’t want to be tricked into buying one of them when all they thought they did was politely request a brochure to get the caller off the line. They just want to be left alone to enjoy their dinner with family and friends.

Let’s see what happens in Germany. All being well, customers will start to gain the upper hand over irritating call centres. And those call centres who insist on cold calling will be driven out of business by punitive fines. About time too.

What do you think? Are cold calling call centres a damned nuisance? Or are they just doing their job? (Now where have I heard that before?)

Post a comment and get the conversation going.

Graham Hill

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