The telecoms regulator has fined insurer Ageas £10,000 for making abandoned calls to UK consumers.

Ofcom found that Ageas Retail Limited – the insurer's over 50's arm – made 148 abandoned calls over three separate days during a seven week period (see's Stop Cold Callers guide to slam the metaphorical door in the face of junk mail, calls, faxes, texts and emails).

The regulator says the insurer breached rules regarding "persistent misuse of a telephone network or service", but found that the degree of seriousness and harm to consumers was "at the lower end of the scale".

The fine also reflected Ageas' offer of a £10 shopping voucher to affected consumers and the steps it had taken to bring itself into compliance, Ofcom adds.

Abandoned calls are often caused by automated calling systems or "diallers", which companies use to maximise the amount of time their agents spend speaking to consumers.

The systems are mainly used in call centres to dial telephone numbers automatically and connect people to call centre agents as soon as the phone is answered.

Problems arise when the dialler makes a call but there is no agent on hand to deal with it.

Protecting consumers

Ofcom's consumer and content group director Claudio Pollack says: "The law is there to protect consumers from suffering annoyance, inconvenience or anxiety, including from abandoned calls.

"Organisations using call centres must comply with the law or face the consequences. Where we find breaches, even at the lower end of the scale, we can take action."

Improving systems

In a statement Ageas said: "Ageas Retail Limited (formerly Ageas 50) part of Ageas UK, can confirm that it has been served with a small financial penalty by the regulator Ofcom. This relates to some abandoned calls made on three occasions during a period of seven weeks in the summer of 2013. 

"This meant that some consumers answered our call to find no waiting call handler, which we recognise may have been irritating.

"As soon as we became aware of the issue with our call system we began remedial action, taking all necessary and appropriate steps to limit any reoccurrences. As part of that work, we have also improved our oversight of the telephone operating system and we responded to Ofcom in a timely and positive manner."