The law aims to punish fraudulent calls more harshly among people registered on Bloctel, the anti-canvassing list.
“It’s not the consumers’ ‘big night’, but it’s still really a step forward compared to a framework that was extremely lax”, reacted Cédric Musso, director of political action at UFC-Que Choisir, after the adoption by the National Assembly of a more restrictive law on doorstep selling. The law aims to punish fraudulent calls more harshly among people registered on Bloctel, the anti-canvassing list. The fines can go up to 75,000 euros for individuals, 375,000 euros for companies.
franceinfo: Will the increase in fines be really dissuasive this time?
Cédric Musso: A fivefold increase in sanctions is a step forward. But now, who says sanction says means of control. The DGCCRF must [la répression des fraudes] have the means to carry out all of the checks and punish fraudulent calls precisely. Beyond the sanctions, there is a strengthening of the Bloctel telephone canvassing list at the level of the law, whose consumers and UFC Que-Choisir have noted their glaring failure.
Why Bloctel is a failure?
Because there were too many exemptions when you were registered with Bloctel. All the operators with whom you had a contract could approach you. It was “the customer one day, always approached”. UFC-Que Choisir has obtained this advance. From now on, once registered on the opposition list, you cannot be the subject of calls from companies with which you do not have a contract. And even if your operator calls you, it cannot be to sell you anything. There must be a direct link with the subject of the contract. So it’s not the consumers’ “big night”, but it’s still really a step forward compared to a framework that was extremely lax.
Could we have gone further in the law?
In the Senate, we had obtained the establishment of a unique prefix to identify calls for commercial purposes. It was not retained in the final version. So, we have several advances. Again, this is not the “big night” for consumers. It is to be feared that in a few months or a few years, we will again postpone a legislative work to really improve the situation as other European states have done. What is missing is the default ban on cold calling, unless you have given your express consent. This is the rule for SMS, emails. It is nevertheless surprising that at the level of commercial calls which are particularly intrusive, there is a default authorization and not a default prohibition.
Is it an exaggeration to say that the elderly are particularly targeted?
This is not an exaggeration, it is a reality because the elderly are at home much more than the active, and therefore receive a greater number of calls than the youngest. Now, canvassing is on fixed lines, on mobile lines and everyone receives to change energy supplier, to change telecom operator. So everyone is subject or canvassing. Now, they are targeting more effectively, the elderly who are more vulnerable. There are a lot of scams, forced subscriptions and therefore consumer disputes at stake.