Two companies owned by the BBC’s new reality star Neville “Big Nev” Wilshire – who appears in the fly-on-the-wall documentary The Call Centre – have been fined £225,000 for making nuisance calls.
Nationwide Energy Services was hit with a £125,000 penalty, while PPI claims manager We Claim You Gain was fined £100,000. Both companies are part of Swansea-based Save Britain Money, the controversial call centre featured in the BBC3 series. Its owner, Mr Wilshire, uses such catchphrases as “smile as you dial” to encourage his 700 staff to make 1.5 million unwanted calls a year selling boilers or PPI claims services.
Last week the firm’s commercial director Bhupinder Sidhu told The Independent: “The offshore call centres are responsible for most of the nuisance calls. We follow strict Ofcom rules.” But the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) disagreed. It said the two firms failed to carry out adequate checks to see whether people they were calling had registered with the Telephone Preference Service, a legal requirement.
Unwanted nuisance calls by Mr Wilshire’s staff led to more than 2,700 complaints between May 2011 and December 2012. Simon Entwisle of the ICO, said: “While the activities of Nev and his call centre employees have provided entertainment for many, they hide a bigger problem within the cold calling industry. People have the legal right not to receive marketing calls.”
Richard Lloyd, head of the consumer group Which?, said: “Given the scale of this problem, it’s time for the Government and telecoms providers to step in too, with new laws and new technology to tackle this scourge.”