Since 1 June 2016, consumers who do not wish to be contacted by salespeople over the phone have been able to add their names free of charge, for a renewable three-year period, to an opt-out list created for this purpose (articles L. 121-34 and R. 121-7 et seq of the French Consumer Code). This opt-out list operates as described by decree No. 2015-556 of 19 May 2015 relating to the cold-calling opt-out list and the order of 9 May 2016 setting the prices for this list.
The existence of the list, which is named "Bloctel" and can be accessed on the website "www.bloctel.gouv.fr", is not without consequences for cold-calling professionals. They are now forbidden from contacting by phone, directly or through a third party acting on their behalf, any consumers registered on this list, except where there is a pre-existing contractual relationship. A failure to comply with this ban is punishable by an administrative fine of up to €75,000 for legal entities (article L. 121-34-1 of the French Consumer Code). Consumers will lodge complaints directly on the Bloctel website. These complaints will be automatically transferred to the French General Directorate for Competition, Consumer Affairs and the Prevention of Fraud.
The professionals in question are now obliged to update their prospecting files to remove the contact details of consumers registered on the Bloctel list (article R. 121-7-3 of the French Consumer Code):
- Either regularly, and at least monthly, if they regularly carry on a cold-calling activity;
- Or prior to any cold-calling campaign, if they only occasionally use this type of prospecting.
In practice, the files will be brought into compliance by the company Opposetel, the Bloctel list's manager. In exchange for use of this service, professionals must pay it a fee consisting of a fixed portion (registration fees of €250 excl. tax and a fixed annual use fee of €300 excl. tax) and a variable portion dependent on the number of uses (the possible options include a price per use, an intermediate offer and an unlimited offer).
Note that the ban on cold calling consumers registered on the Bloctel list, other than customers, does not apply to prospecting with a view to supplying newspapers, periodicals or magazines. The same proviso applies to canvassing by polling organisations and non-profit organisations.
Any professional that collects consumers' telephone data must inform these consumers of their right to be added to the Bloctel list. If a contract is signed, it must clearly and understandably mention the existence of this right for the consumer (article L.121-34 of the French Consumer Code).