Businesses cold calling in France must be Bloctel compliant. Consumers should also know how to register on the Do Not Call list. This article explains it all.
What is the Bloctel Do Not Call Registry?
“Bloctel” is the French Do Not Call Registry. It lets consumers block unwanted business telephone calls from their personal numbers (for free), in line with French law that was passed in March 2014. In turn, businesses are required to “clean” their cold calling lists to make sure they comply with these regulations (more on that below).
In theory, this sounds like consumers could bar all calls from salespeople, marketers, debt-collectors, political volunteers, or pretty much anyone, right? Well, there are some restrictions:
- Consumers cannot block telephone calls from a business they have a current contractual relationship with.
- Cold calls for selling journals, periodicals and magazines are also permitted.
- Calls from public sector services, polling institutes and non-profit organizations are also allowed.
- And finally, of course, if you freely and unambiguously gave out your phone number to a business with the intention of being called, then, yes…you can be called from them.
How Does Bloctel Work?
As a business, it’s your responsibility to ensure you don’t cold call consumers who have listed their telephone numbers on the Bloctel Do Not Call Registry (unless you’re currently in a contractual relationship with them – more on this below). This applies whether your company is doing the cold calling, or whether you’re contracting out to a third party. It’s likewise not allowed to rent or sell lists containing Bloctel numbers to a third party.
NOTE: Even if you use a third party to clean your prospecting lists via Bloctel, your Bloctel account must still be listed in your name and paid for by you – with the understanding that it is your full responsibility.
How Can I Avoid Cold Calling Numbers on the Bloctel Do Not Call List?
Opposetel, the business chosen via public service delegation agreement, is charged with “cleaning” cold calling lists for companies with regards to the Bloctel list. The service is paid, according to the following subscriptions:
Each professional must use Opposetel before each cold calling campaign, before providing a cold calling list to other professionals, or at least once a month for each campaign that lasts more than 30 days.
The system for creating an account with Opposetel as a professional is similar to that of registering a number on Bloctel as an individual consumer:
- Do a ‘pre-sign up’ on Bloctel
- Fill out the form with your company name on www.bloctel.gouv.fr
- Receive a confirmation email and username for your account
- Test the service
- You can test the Opposetel service as well as read the FAQs and contact the hotline
- Choose your subscription
- Choose the subscription that best fits your needs (see above) as well as your desired payment method
- Once payment has been confirmed, Opposetel will confirm activation of your subscription
- Configure the account for your users
- You can choose up to 8 different users, and should configure their usernames
- You should also inform each user of the relevant terms and conditions
- You submit your cold calling lists to Opposetel
- You’ll receive a confirmation email
- You’ll be able to download the files after they’ve been treated
Opposetel will treat the files in the order that they were received. Except in extremely busy periods, you should receive your “cleaned” prospecting list within 72 working hours.
If you’re reading this, you might be an expat living in France, eager to block unwanted calls. Here’s how you can add your number to the “Bloctel list”:
- Fill out the form on the Bloctel website with your name, email, address, and the phone numbers you want put on the Bloctel ‘do not call’ list (you can add up to 8). You’ll also create an account on their website.
- You need to validate your request: Bloctel will send you an email within 48 hours after you filled out the above form. If you don’t click on the link in the email to validate your request within the 10 days after the email is sent, you’ll have to make your request all over again.
- Bloctel will send you a second email with a confirmation number. This will let you access the account you created in step one (where you can change your personal information or report any illegal calls).
Your number(s) will then be protected from unwanted calls, starting at the latest 30 days after you validated your number in step 2. These numbers will stay on the do not call list for 3 years – and you can cancel at any time.
Bloctel: Scams, Robocalls, Text Messages
Putting a number on the Bloctel list doesn’t protect you from all nuisance calls or communication, however. It’s only meant to protect consumers from phone calls originating from a professional.
If you’re receiving unwanted SMS/MMS, or calls that Bloctel doesn’t protect against, here’s what you can do:
Automated calls (robocalls)
Robocalls or automated, pre-recorded calls are legal, as long as you gave clear and unambiguous permission for your telephone number to be used this way (for example, by checking a box).
If you believe your number is being contacted illegally, you can file a complaint with the CNIL (Commission Nationale de l’Informatique et des Libertés, an independent French regulatory body concerned with the application of data privacy law), if you know the name of the company sending you unwanted calls. Companies that violate robocall regulations can be fined 750 Euros per illegal call.
If you’ve been receiving calls aimed at collecting your personal information for fraudulent purposes, you can also file a complaint with the CNIL if you know who’s calling you. You can likewise file a criminal complaint with the police or district attorney.
Unfortunately, Bloctel doesn’t block voicemail messages that are designed to incite you to call back a premium-rate number. The best thing to do is be careful to not call the number, and report this “voicemail spam” by sending the illicit number via SMS to 33700 (you won’t be charged), with the message, “SPAM VOCAL 0X XX XX XX XX”. You should receive a confirmation message saying your complaint will be sent to the appropriate telecom operators.
SMS or MMS
Bloctel doesn’t protect against unsolicited SMS/MMS. Here’s what you should do to block unwanted texts:
- Send “STOP” by SMS to the number that sent you the unwanted text. The company is required to confirm reception of your request and subsequently delete your information from their database. You can also obtain the contact information of the customer service department of the company sending the unwanted SMS by texting them the message “CONTACT”. You should then receive their contact information by return SMS.
- You can also forward the message to the number 33700 (without any adding any comments), at which point the appropriate telecom operators will deal directly with the company sending unsolicited messages. This service is available to everyone irrespective of which telecom operator they use, and is free for those using Bouygues Telecom, Orange France and SFR. Note: The General Directorate for Competition Policy, Consumer Affairs and Fraud Control (DGCCRF) may access the numbers flagged using 33700, and may pursue legal action if they wish.
- Finally, you can also report companies sending unsolicited text messages to the CNIL, police or district attorney.
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Why is Respecting Bloctel Important?
If you’re reading this as a professional, you might be thinking that you’re not such a big fan of Bloctel – after all, doesn’t this limit your ability to effectively prospect and grow your business?
While Bloctel does limit who you can cold call, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. As we’ve written about elsewhere, it’s important for salespeople, marketers and call or contact centers to respect telephony as a medium. That means using at least a minimal amount of targeting, personalization and common sense when reaching out to prospects. If consumers feel constantly harassed, not only will this damage your reputation with your telecom provider, it will also incite people to avoid answering calls from numbers they don’t know, let calls go to voicemail, or even file complaints.
In the long run, putting regulations like Bloctel in place and respecting them will keep the telephone as a potent medium for communication with the public. Without them, we all run the risk of destroying telephony as a viable medium.