12 November 2008
Atos Origin has said it has no plans to review its telephone procedures despite a number of complaints about silent calls and evasive staff.
Fresh from the furore surrounding a data security breach linked to a government website, Atos Origin has come in for criticism from some of our members and elsewhere about their approach to contacting benefit claimants.
Some claimants started to complain about the approach adopted by the company back in March and the same sort of criticism is still being levelled at Atos Origin.
"I had a call at around midday on a Saturday, there was no-one at the other en and the call just went dead,” explained one of our members.
Others say that when they do get to speak to whoever is at the other end do the line, the caller is often very evasive and often claim to be from the DWP rather than Atos Origin.
Although claimants request written communication from the DWP rather than phone calls, there is growing concern that the alleged silent calls and evasive manner of some Atos Origin employees is causing unnecessary alarm and distress.
The calls are being made in order to arrange a medical assessment and some claimants say they have been falsely told that if they do not return calls their benefits may be affected.
Claimants have a legal right to seven days notice of a medical appointment unless they specifically waive this and Benefits and Work is aware of no grounds for stopping benefits for simply failing to return a phone call from Atos Origin.
A spokesman for Atos Origin said it had not received any official complaints related to telephone calls its employees had made to claimants so could not comment on the claims we have received.
“We have a wealth of experience of operating such systems and our procedures are constantly under review,” he added. “We are satisfied with the procedures we currently have in place.
“It is not company policy to make silent calls, we always endeavour to leave a message. Far from being evasive, our callers are trained to be open and helpful.”
The DWP said it constantly monitored the work of agencies contracted to carry out specific duties and had not received any official complaints regarding Atos Origin.
If any of you have experienced problems dealing with Atos Origin callers, or have received silent calls traced back to this company, we would like to hear from you.