Nuisance Calls and Texts Now Above Pre-Pandemic Levels, Quadient Reveals

Monday, Oct 31st 2022

Quadient, Thursday 12th May 2022 – London, UK – Nuisance calls and texts rocketed by 27% in 2021 compared to 2020, a Freedom of Information (FOI) request from Quadient has revealed. The request to the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) found:

  • The ICO received 131,491 complaints about nuisance calls and texts in 2021, compared to 103,733 the year before. This outstrips even the numbers reported pre-pandemic (129,354 in 2019). 
  • By far the largest number of complaints were about broadband, phone, TV or other telecoms services, with 19,010 complaints, or 14.5% of the total. Yet banking and energy savings nuisance calls also climbed steeply, while insurance – after seemingly improving in 2020 – rose significantly.
  • The stress of the cost-of-living crisis is only being compounded by the increase in banking-related nuisance calls. Complaints climbed 38% – from 6,367 to 8,796 – in 2021.
  • There’s no cap on energy nuisance calls and texts. Complaints about messages from energy savings & home improvements and energy suppliers soared by more than half (54%) in 2021, from 6,505 to 10,038 – peaking with 1,590 in November when the energy price cap first hit the headlines.
  • After a huge fall in nuisance calls and messages in 2020, insurers are now doing worse than they were pre-pandemic. Insurance-related nuisance calls and texts rose by 40%, with 3,989 complaints.

In total, these amount to 15 nuisance calls or texts an hour, or one call or text every 4 minutes – and, with many calls and texts going unreported, this is only the tip of the iceberg. If these figures are anything to go by, businesses aren’t giving up nuisance calls and texts for Lent – March was once again the worst month for complaints (17,728). 

“We’re beginning to see businesses return to normality – but it appears part of getting ‘back to normal’ is ramping up the volume of irritating customer communications,” said Andrew Stevens, Principal, Banking, Financial Services, and Insurance, Quadient. “The number of complaints accelerated towards the end of 2020, but now we’re in a worse position than we were before the pandemic. The sheer volume of spam calls and texts will take a toll on worried customers, who are already grappling with the energy crisis and soaring costs of living. Businesses need to pull the handbrake on annoying customer calls and texts, or they could hit record levels of complaints this year, which would hit revenues when customers decide to leave.”

‘Covid calls’ rocketing

The number of complaints about Covid-19 related calls and texts in 2021 was almost 12 times the total in 2020, increasing from 371 to 4,424. This rise coincided with the emergence of the Omicron variant at the end of 2021, with 3,588 complaints registered in December – almost eight times as many as the previous six months combined (479).

Although many of these complaints won’t relate to contact from legitimate companies, customers will still be dealing with more Covid-19 related communication during any future spikes in infection rates. Businesses must bear this in mind when planning their future communication strategies.

Customers banking on valuable communication

With the cost-of-living crisis at the top of everyone’s minds, consumers are more worried than ever about their finances, and it’s crucial that banks provide helpful and personalised communication to demonstrate they are on customers’ side. By bombarding customers with irrelevant content, banks are only exacerbating what is already a stressful time.

“With the cost of living going up for most people, many will be looking for more guidance and information from banks than before,” said Stevens. “At a fundamental level, some people will be unsure if they can afford everything they need – or whether they’ll have to cut back spending. They don’t need to be sent innumerable offers or reminders, but instead functions like spending tracking tools and searchable statements. Communications that highlight these useful functions and how to use them, or give other ways to reduce costs, will be much more welcome.”

No cap on energy nuisance calls

 

With the ongoing energy crisis in the headlines, some companies have leapt on the opportunity to pester customers with calls about energy efficiency, disguising nuisance calls as ‘advice’ about how to reduce bills. To avoid being associated with these unscrupulous operators, companies need to ensure communication is relevant and helpful.

 

“The energy sector is in the headlines like never before,” said Andrew Oldham, UK CXM Director, Quadient. “With bills rising, people are still scrambling to get information about what energy price cap rises mean for them, and how they can cut their energy consumption. At this time, customers are likely to be on high alert, looking out for all communication from their energy providers. The last thing they want is to be bombarded with irrelevancies – whether “updates” that offer no new information, or unaffordable energy efficiency offerings. Companies should remember customers are likely hanging on their every word and need hard facts – how much their bill is, when their tariff ends, their options for the year ahead, and affordable ways to lower costs or increase efficiency.”

 

No cap on energy nuisance calls

With the ongoing energy crisis in the headlines, some companies have leapt on the opportunity to pester customers with calls about energy efficiency, disguising nuisance calls as ‘advice’ about how to reduce bills. To avoid being associated with these unscrupulous operators, companies need to ensure communication is relevant and helpful.

“The energy sector is in the headlines like never before,” said Andrew Oldham, UK CXM Director, Quadient. “With bills rising, people are still scrambling to get information about what energy price cap rises mean for them, and how they can cut their energy consumption. At this time, customers are likely to be on high alert, looking out for all communication from their energy providers. The last thing they want is to be bombarded with irrelevancies – whether “updates” that offer no new information, or unaffordable energy efficiency offerings. Companies should remember customers are likely hanging on their every word and need hard facts – how much their bill is, when their tariff ends, their options for the year ahead, and affordable ways to lower costs or increase efficiency.”

No cap on energy nuisance calls

With the ongoing energy crisis in the headlines, some companies have leapt on the opportunity to pester customers with calls about energy efficiency, disguising nuisance calls as ‘advice’ about how to reduce bills. To avoid being associated with these unscrupulous operators, companies need to ensure communication is relevant and helpful.

“The energy sector is in the headlines like never before,” said Andrew Oldham, UK CXM Director, Quadient. “With bills rising, people are still scrambling to get information about what energy price cap rises mean for them, and how they can cut their energy consumption. At this time, customers are likely to be on high alert, looking out for all communication from their energy providers. The last thing they want is to be bombarded with irrelevancies – whether “updates” that offer no new information, or unaffordable energy efficiency offerings. Companies should remember customers are likely hanging on their every word and need hard facts – how much their bill is, when their tariff ends, their options for the year ahead, and affordable ways to lower costs or increase efficiency.”

The FOI also found…

  • PPI pestering is on the rise, with related nuisance rising by more than half (623, up from 412). With the August 2019 final deadline on PPI claims long gone, it’s clear this is a growing scam call problem. In fact, the number of PPI-related complaints almost outweighed payday loans (328) and pensions (342) combined. 
  • Most complaints came in the first six months of the year – 83,558 in January-June, compared to 47,933 in July-December. Firms should be on high alert right now – otherwise they risk irritating their customers before the year is even halfway through.
  • Adult content nuisance calls were up – with 337 complaints of X-rated nuisance calls and texts in 2021, compared to 270 in 2020.