Heat to be turned up on cold calls

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 12 June, 2005, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 12 June, 2005, 12:00am

Unsolicited commercial calls from recording machines may be banned by law next year in a bid by the telecommunications watchdog to crack down on cold-calling.

Au Man-Ho, director-general of the Office of the Telecommunications Authority (Ofta), said the government was planning legislation to deal with the 'serious harassments' caused to the community.

But he said the restriction was unlikely to extend to calls made by staff, to avoid interfering in commercial activities.

'On many occasions, companies have to make calls to directly contact their customers, making it technically difficult for us to also restrict calls which are made by the company staff or their agents,' he said.

'We would need a serious discussion in the community if there are suggestions that the restrictions should go further.'

Mr Au said the authority was targeting commercial calls by recording machines mainly because the practice - cheap to operate - was found to be more popular and causing harassment.

Hong Kong had no regulations to control unsolicited commercial calls, Mr Au said.

The authority had been in discussions with the telecommunication companies to work out methods to curb the abuse of telephone services, he said. It also was considering setting up a complaints channel for the public.

Consumer Council chief executive Pamela Chan Wong-shui said the calls were not only annoying but caused unnecessary mobile phone charges, especially when received overseas.

'We had one complaint in April from someone who received more than 40 unsolicited commercial calls in one month,' she said.