Your view: no more nuisance calls

by , Conversation Editor Consumer Rights 17 June 2013
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In March we set a 12-week deadline for the regulators to crack down on nuisance calls and texts. Time’s up! We’re now calling on the government to take action. Here are some of your latest nuisance call comments.

Calling Time on Nuisance Calls and Texts phone

Our research found that 85% of people are bombarded by unsolicited calls, proving that the current system is failing. On average people received seven nuisance calls last month, with one in ten getting a whopping 50 unsolicited calls!

Which? Convo commenter Glynnis recently had seven calls in one day:

‘Today I have had no fewer than seven unsolicited telephone calls, presumably from the same company, purportedly an unavailable international number. My answering machine has been very busy. I am absolutely fed up with this invasion of my privacy.’

Alfa was interrupted by an infamous personal injury call (one of the most common unsolicited call, as you can see in our graph):

Most common nuisance calls

‘Had a call a couple of days ago. The guy said he had a file in front of him with the details of my accident. Wouldn’t tell me the details and put the phone down on me after I got shirty. Blatant lie as the only accident I have had was a no-fault knock over 20 years ago!!’

Trouble with the TPS

Russell is registered with the Telephone Preference Service (TPS) but, like many, is still affected:

‘I get an average of three a day, despite being TPS registered. I’ve stopped being even vaguely polite. My normal line is “why are you ringing this number? I don’t accept calls of this nature. Don’t ring again”. If I am calmer, I’ll keep answering every question in the wrong way, which can be amusing. These calls really must stop.’

Our survey found that 57% of those registered with the TPS are not satisfied with the service. This isn’t surprising when we found that, on average, registered people received 10 unsolicited calls in the last month – compared to five calls by those not signed up.

Calling Time on Nuisance Calls and Texts tour

We’ve also been touring the country with our Calling Time on Nuisance Calls and Texts campaign. We’ve found thousands of people who are fed up, and were only too happy to share their frustrations in our video:

Finally, Which? Convo commenter Mark explains why he’s fed up with nuisance calls:

‘I’m sick of getting calls every day, and so is my very elderly aunt who receives at least two a day and has now STOPPED answering the phone because of this. Myself, my aunt and my mother are ALL on the TPS. We all receive between one to five calls a day.

‘My elderly aunt has stopped answering the phone in the afternoons and evenings now and this causes us concern as we’re never sure if she’s OK. It really is making having a phone a misery. Something has to be done, I cannot believe the government allows this to continue.’

It’s clear everyone’s sick and tired of being bombarded by nuisance calls and texts. We want the government to step in and we need your help to make them listen. We’ve already had more than 60,000 pledges of support – join them in calling time on nuisance calls and texts.

37 comments

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wev

Patrick, can’t Which include stuff about the trade in personal information that I mentioned in the Nuisance Calls conversation, into the campaign and Private Members Bill?

That’s how they get our phone number in the first place.

Hi Wev, you’re exactly right – that’s a very important part of what we’re working on. Here’s one of our Asks:

ASK 1: PEOPLE POWER ON PERSONAL DATA
We want the government to introduce:

An expiry date when a person consents to being contacted by ‘selected third parties’.
An obligation on businesses to prove to the ICO that a person gave consent.
http://www.which.co.uk/campaigns/nuisance-calls-and-texts/know-the-issue/

The Private Members Bill we want taking forward calls for a clear expiry date on consent to third party marketing and gives greater powers to regulators to punish rule breakers.:

http://www.which.co.uk/news/2013/06/which-urges-mps-to-back-nuisance-calls-bill–323201/

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alfa

Why can’t cold-calling be made illegal full-stop? It causes distress and misery to so many people, especially the elderly. It is an unwanted infringement on your life that you should not have to put up with.

So please, no half-hearted measures that these companies will find a way around.

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wev

Patrick, there’s nothing in the Bill about chaining. Some third party companies pass on the personal details they receive to other companies.

There’s also nothing about the sale of the public electoral register by local councils. That practice should stop.

And there’s nothing about the collection of internet behaviour information for online behavioural advertising, and which also gets sold on to other companies along with personal contact details.

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tonyp

It is possible to avoid having one’s entry on the electoral register being passed on by ticking the apprpriate box on the form that is sent out regularly.

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wev

Patrick, is there anything in the bill about market research calls and survey calls?

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wavechange

Wev – I keep saying that market research calls are nuisance calls and should be made ‘opt-in’. The fact that market research is used as a front for marketing calls just makes the problem worse.

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wev

I agree, but does Which?

Hi Wev, no we’re not calling for any changes to the rules on legitimate market research calls. However, any calls that are carrying out sales under the guise of market research are not-legitimate and would be classed as marketing calls – these are on the agenda.

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wev

But legitimate market research calls gathers personal information in a similar way to online behavioural advertising, and it’s sold on to other companies without checks on who’s buying the information and what it’s going to be used for. That’s how scammers get hold of personal info and contact details, and they use it all when trying to scam people.

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Jane Frost

Not True! A legitimate market research company will always tell you for what reason they are gathering the research and how your data will be used. The code of the MRS has always been very strict on the point of data and its protection, frequently in advance of ICO requirements. You can find the code on our website, see their website for more details. We also have a consumer trustmark FairData (fairdata.org.uk) which has the backing of the ICO. Lists of MRS company partners who must abide by these rules are also available online. Our members cover the vast majority of research companies in the UK.
You are more likely to lose personal info. by not watching for Ts&Cs when you sign up for a product or service- and yes I agree that checking these is a chore! [email link removed by moderator]

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Mike

Market Research is the latest nuisance call annoyance. It seem that you can’t order anything by phone any more, without a follow-up call from a researcher asking about your “experience”. Selective market research is OK, I suppose, but this seems indiscriminate and in many cases would appear to be a disguised data mining exercise.

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wavechange

Some of us have been pestered by market research companies for years!

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NFH

I find that the only effective way to deal with these nuisance calls is to swear at the callers as rudely as possible. The calls tend to reduce in frequency for a noticeable period whenever I do this. If everyone does the same by making cold calls very unpleasant for the callers, they will eventually give up and find themselves a lawful occupation instead.

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JF

I can see these phone calls are extremely annoying but I don’t think I would be prepared to swear at someone I don’t even know. I work with the public myself and on occasion a member of the public swears at me when I am only trying to help. I always tell them politely but firmly I can’t accept them speaking to me like that. I don’t think it’s ever ok to swear at someone who is just trying to do their job to the best of their ability. With these nuisance calls, I find if you just cut off the caller without speaking this also stops the calls and is the quickest way to do so.

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NFH

Would you swear at someone else who was engaged in an unlawful activity of which you were the victim, for example a burglar or mugger? Why should these nuisance callers be afforded politeness?

Cutting them off only ends that particular call; it doesn’t discourage future calls, either to you or to others. I’m proposing a response that, based on my own experience, discourages future unlawful activity of this nature.

I’m not a rude or angry person, quite the opposite, and would not swear at someone engaged in lawful activity, but these nuisance callers deserve to receive unpleasant responses from those they call. They should go out and find themselves a lawful occupation.

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Astolat

I don’t get many nuisance calls. Only one or two per month and these often when I am out and they just don’t leave a message on my answer phone and if I don’t recognise the number I do nothing. [ My answer machine does a 1471 after all calls ]

When I moved into this house in 1994 I had a new number installed and went ‘No quoted number’ so that if anyone asked BT DQ they would not be given any infornation.

I never give out my phone number to shops or suppliers. If I am absolutely forced to quote a phone number [ e.g. on line shopping ] I give the published number of the HQ of my local police force.

I also registered with the TPS many years ago.

You might have seen this on the news and our Richard Lloyd on BBC Breakfast talking about it, but two companies which feature on BBC Three’s The Call Centre have been fined a total of £225,000 by the Information Commissioners Office (ICO) for making nuisance calls.

http://www.which.co.uk/news/2013/06/tvs-call-centre-fined-225000-for-nuisance-calls-323521/

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wev

2700 complaints to the Telephone Preference Service. Any idea how many more received calls but didn’t complain?

How much money did they make from these nuisance calls?

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Rob

Like many other people who receive these phone calls (just about everyone with a phone?), I registered with TPS several years ago. I have to say that TPS is about effective as a chocolate fireguard.

The number of cold-calls I get vary hugely – some days I get none, others I’ll get five or six. I have caller display; some numbers look like legitimate 01 numbers, others start 0845, but others simply show ‘International’. I would strongly advise anyone with elderly relatives to get caller display and a suitable handset installed for them. When you’ve programmed your own numbers into their phone they’ll be able to see if you’re calling and will be able to answer the phone without fear of being hard-sold something by a stranger.

My Panasonic answerphone also has the facility to block up to 30 numbers, which works well (you can’t add the ‘International’ no-numbers), but it doesn’t take long to get to 30!

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tonyp

There are occasions where it is necessary to give a telephone number to a supplier so that changes of circumstances, such as a problem with a scheduled delivery, can be advised (I’m sure that Astolat’s local police would be pleased to be informed of such circumstances!). Perhaps the best solution would be for the default situation to be that any such information is to be used only for the specific purpose for which it has been provided unless there is explicit approval for it to be used more generally.

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Brian L Dunsby

I am getting an average of a call every day – from PPI, Accident Claims or Computer fixers.

I propose that it should be made ILLEGAL to withold the caller’s number.

Then we could easily check who called using 1471 and report them to the ICO for abuse of our privacy.

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alfa

New nuisance caller today. Asked for me by name. I asked who he was and he hung up.
On this site there are 37 pages of complaints about this number:
Phone number: http://whocallsme.com/Phone-Number.aspx/01422387713/37
Sixteen pages of complaints on this site:
http://www.unknownphone.com/search.php?num=01422387713
Five pages plus the company info on this site:
http://www.nuisancecalls.org.uk/showthread.php?1242-01422387713-Complaints-about-calls-from-01422387713
More here:
http://www.tellows.co.uk/num/01422387713
http://www.whophonedme.co.uk/01422387713
http://www.callid.org/Phone-Number/01422387713/

Now added to my address book to ignore. Wow, these numbers will fill it up soon !!!!!

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wev

Patrick mentioned The Call Centre earlier. One of those companies is Nationwide Energy Services

http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/p019szjt/The_Call_Centre_The_Cash_Cow_of_the_Company_Has_Stopped_Giving_Milk/

http://whocallsme.com/Phone-Number.aspx/01792311550

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wavechange

Please can we have a Conversation about market research calls?

There are legal and registration with the Telephone Preference Service will not stop them. What can appear to start of as market research can move on to a sales call.

I applaud the effort that Which? has put into getting rid of nuisance calls and keeping us informed about progress, but it is disappointing that there is no intention to control market research calls.

What I want to achieve is that market research calls are opt-in. One way of achieving this would be to register to receive certain types of market research calls by ticking boxes on a website. I would, for example, choose to receive calls concerning consumer rights.

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Jane Frost

Legitimate market researchers may not use surveys as a cover for selling. See their website for details of the code of conduct. MRS is working with the ICO to try and stamp out this practice.
Research needs a nationally representative sample base if surveys on for example health, governement policy etc are to be legitimate … thats why our code is strict on data privacy and use [email link removed by moderator]

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wavechange

I received a call asking for feedback about how the Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline had handled a call. Only when I had answered all the questions was I informed that I was speaking to a representative of a company doing market research. I will be a lot more careful in future.

I am glad that we are starting to discuss market research because it is time to expose what some of the companies get up to.

Market research must be opt-in only. Those who are ill and sick do not deserve to be pestered and the rest of us have better things to do than answer the phone.

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alfa

Years ago, I agreed to take part in market research over the phone from a company.
The first lot of questions related to nothing in particular.
By the 3rd set of questions, they were learning far too much about me.

Some of the questions:
-How many people lived in the household?
-Did we have a dog?
-Were we due to go on holiday soon? That question rang alarm bells, I just said I didn’t want to take part any more and never heard from them again.

So there could be a more sinister side to market research calls and I would like them stopped or some kind of opt-in that really works.

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Jane Frost

Start by asking if the questioner works for a company which is a member of MRS. If they say no or don’t know just hang up. Most legitimate researchers will tell you this without asking

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wavechange

Why should I want to receive unsolicited calls from a member of the MRS? I don’t!

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wavechange

I have been looking at the Market Research Society website and a search about nuisance calls revealed nothing about the possibility that calls by members could be considered nuisance calls.

Maybe we should be making a call to MRS each time we are pestered. It might be the only way to get the message through.

MARKET RESEARCH CALLS = NUISANCE CALLS

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Roy Wallis

My main bugbear is unsolicited emails, around 20 a day; I believe that is a fairly small number but just as annoying. Most go into my “Spam” folder. I do try and register the senders email address as “blocked” but they then use another sender email address so the task is hopeless. Can Which? help by lobbying for an easy method, developed by the ISP’s, to forward the offending emails to them and then they automatically block them? One of the current annoyances are 1) Companies purporting to be from BT informing me that my account is about to be blocked – I have sent all he relevant information to BT 7 times in 3 months on their site with all headings etc. with no action – they are hopeless The others are mainly banks informing me that I need to take action as my account is about to be suspended. A. Noyd.

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Leaf.ME Alone

They are getting wise!!!! I got a call today re. “Windows” – you know the type – and Isaid – “Oh Great – I need to speak to you” in an excited way! ..surprise surprise – line went dead. But – to pick up the phone I had to stop grooming the dog -dash to the phone before the answer phone kicked in. I do have important calls but am totally fed up of international calls which hang up the minute you question them. There has to be a way of stopping these calls.

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Dave

A real pain in the derriere
My daughter took a call
Mrs?
shes not here
Mr ???
hes not here
Oh well I’ll speak to you
No you wont – and hung up

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Dave

I too have ceased being polite
Ansaphone message now says “if your number is witheld, or its an unsolicited sales call, sod off”
after a while these calls diminished
Caller display helps
Or if I have the time I string em along, my longest lasted 25 mins
I often dont answer – they never bother to leave a message

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Adam

So I am getting 1/2 a dozen calls per day – they seem to come from India judging by the accent, but sometimes appear to have a UK number. Many are silent – done by autodiallers. If I wait for some, then they hang up when I ask what company they are calling from. Today I had someone trying to buy some shares from me that I own – they have been calling all day. There was just a zero on the display. They would not listen and continued reading the script even when I SHOUTED down the ‘phone although they eventually hung up. I don’t know how they got my ex-directory number? I have NEVER had the ‘phone number for this house published.

Dave – stringing them along – if it’s for your own amusement – at least does a public service as it stops them from calling anyone else! Well done!

My Mother gets calls to. She is in her 80′s and has hurt her back at the moment and doesn’t relish getting up for a stupid call. She is far too polite to them though! We are both registered with the TPS but this only works for the UK I guess.

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Bob

After 30 years of having the same Virgin Media land-line number we had to finally give in & arranged a FOC change to a new ex-directory number. For several years we had been receiving calls from various spam callers, possibly scammers & unsolicited marketing wasters.
These included PPI, in some instances insisting that I lie to the banks that I had never been involved with. “Microsoft engineers” advising that my PC had been compromised, many callers who either did leave a message or no answer when the phone was picked up.
The majority were from Asian call centres & some numbers the caller ID as “external” or “withheld”, worst offenders included call codes 09712, 01733, 01623, 0501 & yes even a 0000000000. In a recent 4 day period we received 9 calls with another 4 in a 1 hours period last Thursday.
Last Friday we arranged to change our phone number for a new one & to date (i week) we have recived not one spam call. Lets hope this lasts. The Government must do something about this. TPS forget about them, like my old dear departed Nan, nice person but no teeth.

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