We have all received those annoying calls. You are about to sit down to dinner and are forced to rush to a ringing phone only to find some strange salesperson trying sell you a new health insurance policy or a phone package that you don’t want.
Opting out introduced
In 2012, after many complaints, the Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) created rules to allow people to opt out of unsolicited phone calls by flagging their phone number with an asterisk. An exception was made for your telephone operator who can make sales calls even if you have an asterisk after your number. Those in charge of companies that do not respect the opt-out asterisk face penalties as high as three years in prison.
System not working
Since this system was put in place SECO has received close to 20,000 complaints related to unwanted calls. And the trend is upwards. Of the 20,000 complaints around 4,200 were made in 2013 while 13,500 were made in the 15 months to the end of March 2015 according to the Swiss newspaper Le Temps.
In the same article Le Temps reports SECO saying that the main challenge is that many calls are made using Swiss numbers from an office located outside Switzerland. In addition, the caller is often not identified. Identification would require foreign judicial assistance and a time intensive process that cannot be justified in most cases.
What can be done?
To get an asterisk next to your name, contact your telephone operator. It is also possible to have your name and number removed from the directory.
In addition, be careful not to give your telephone number to businesses that might sell it or use it sell you their products or the products of their partners. Most general terms and conditions contain clauses that allow the company’s commercial partners to contact you.
If none of this works a great low stress way to end an unwanted call is to hang up while you are talking. Because we don’t normally hang up on ourselves the caller will be slightly confused. This will more often than not prompt them to forget you and call the next number on their list.
Unwanted calls despite an asterisk (SECO website – in French)