/ Technology

We’re calling time on nuisance calls and texts

Phone being hit by hammer

‘I hate it and feel powerless.’ Which? Conversation commenter Matt Petre summed up many of your feelings on nuisance calls. We’re calling on regulators to work together to police and punish those responsible.

It’s clear that nuisance calls and texts have become a daily problem for many of you. They not only cause frustration, but they can even be distressing and intimidating.

There have been 1,600 comments made about nuisance calls and texts here on Which? Conversation and many of them have had the same theme – ‘why isn’t something being done?’. Our research also found that in the last three months, seven in 10 people have received unsolicited calls and four in 10 an unwanted text.

The government, various regulators and business leaders have told us that they get that this is a problem. The Information Commissioner has recently fined some companies. But I really think we’ve waited long enough for a proper crackdown that cuts the problem off at source. Which? wants to see some action and I know many of you agree.

A joint taskforce to stop nuisance calls

So we’ve launched a campaign to call time on nuisance calls and texts. We have called on the four regulators who have the responsibility of helping protect you from unwanted calls and texts (the Information Commissioner’s Office, the Ministry of Justice, Ofcom and the Office of Fair Trading) to set up a joint taskforce to take action on this nuisance.

We want this taskforce to start by focusing on the Personal Injury and Payment Protection Insurance industries, which is one of the main problem areas you have told us about. Our latest investigation has revealed that after making a claim to their car insurance companies, one in four Which? members were bombarded with calls or texts from claims management companies. So it’s definitely a good place to start.

We think it’s time for the regulators to go into the offices of the companies that are making these calls, or benefiting from them. We want this taskforce to get to the bottom of why so many of you are getting calls and texts you don’t want. We want to know if rules are being broken and if they are, there must be quick and effective punishment. If the taskforce finds evidence of rule breaking, we want heavy fines and licences suspended.

And one other thing. We want to see results in 12 weeks time. If the regulators are unwilling or unable to take this action then Which? will call on the government to step in.

Cutting off nuisance phone calls and texts

Cutting down on nuisance calls and texts may be complicated and there may need to be changes to the regulatory system or even new laws. But Which? has listened to you and we know that many of you want to see action – now. So our message to them is, ‘do what you can and do it now’, and then tell us what needs to change.

We will let you know more about our campaign over the next few weeks, but in the meantime, we want to hear about your experiences. Are you fed up with nuisance calls and texts? Then tell us.

Are you fed up with nuisance calls and texts?

Yes (100%, 30,130 Votes)

No (0%, 91 Votes)

Total Voters: 30,221

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Birdy Jordan says:
30 March 2013

Until recently we were receiving up to six nuisance calls daily on the landline. I don’t know if it’s the slamming down of the receiver, or leaving it off the hook or shouting extremely rude suggestions as to what they should do with their ‘good mornings’ and unnecessary enquiries after our wellbeing – but the calls have almost dried up to one or two a week now, although we are far from complacent, and expect them to start up again soon.
However a mysterious text on my mobile, constantly repeated and deleted by me over a period of weeks almost landed me in court recently. I am very sparing with my mobile number, using it for friends and family and close colleagues; I therefore assumed that this was just another nuisance.I then started to receive texts telling me about letters I had received (I hadn’t). This became so annoying that I used the number displayed to ring whoever it was and tell them to go away, only to find that it was debt collection agency set on to me for a non-existent debt to BT, and they were about to take me to court. A phone call to BT got them called off.
The point of the story is that if I were not in the habit of getting unidentified text messages on what I consider my very private, unfashionable mobile, purely for MY convenience, this could have ended up with the bailiffs arriving at a tenanted property I own. Imagine the effect on them! And all because my first instinct on seeing another unidentified text is to ignore and delete it. Am I to blame, or is it this crazy ‘anyone’s a target’ culture that should take the rap?

Vithlani says:
30 March 2013

How but stop this third grade call centres, they are not disturbing only on land-line but also on mobiles.
who are the callers 1) Claim Insurance 2) Help with Credit Card Account 3) Help with Bank Loans.
Stop them fast.

Tony says:
30 March 2013

We get cold calls most evenings usually when we are eating or watching TV. Usually they ask whether my partner Mrs ************* is available. Many especially off shore calls have an almost agressive tone.

Sometimes when I am feeling mischievous I reply ‘I’m afraid she’s left me’ or’ I’m afraid she passed away last week’.

When I am feeling annoyed I take the call and ask them whether they could answer a question for me and that question is ‘ did you ever think that you would have to stoop to such a demeaning and degenerate job as a cold caller when you were at school ?’

Nine times out of ten it ends the call.

pam says:
30 March 2013

my son and I have a competition to see who can keep them talking the longest without answering any of their questions. I,m the winner as I pretend o be a deaf,dotty old lady who thinks she is talking to her daughter, Julie. I ask for milk, bread or whatever and when I feel they are losing interest I say I’ve fallen over. I know this is emotional blackmail but they started it!!!!

Gillian James says:
30 March 2013

A friend told me this one, it’s hilarious!! Before the speaker of a nuisance call starts to speak there is often a pause, this is the clue you need. You then start talking to the caller in a high pitched childlike voice and engage THEM in conversation! Then shout something “MUMMY, there’s a man wants to speak to you. Mummy’s in the loo, I’ll go and get her” Continue this conversation until the caller gets fed up or you can’t control your laughter any longer!! Have fun!

John Beadle says:
30 March 2013

Calls such as you describe are one of the many banes of modern society. We have a “Caller Display” function on our landline, and we flatly refuse to answer any calls that are labelled “withheld” or “international”. We are also included in the Telephone Preference Service, which filters out many previously-received UK nuisance calls. However, calls from abroad are not included in this service.

So – our full support to the campaign for the blocking/removal/assassination of any nuisance caller!

pwm says:
30 March 2013

i just ask them if they are registered with the office of fair trading and please give their registration number, that only works with British based call centers, if they are off shore they just ignore you and carry on. so we need something with bite that can stop off shore call centers as well

Bill R says:
30 March 2013

This is an infuriating practice, but it might offer some relief to see how some recipients have managed to exact their revenge. There are many videos on YouTube now of folks who have successfully wasted the time of these callers … including one who claims to have stretched the call from “The Computer Maintenance Department” to 75 minutes! Perhaps a new entry in the Guiness Book of Records is called for? Anyway, search on YouTube for “Windows Support Scam” for examples.

Also Tom Mabe is an American comedian who takes delight in winding up telemarketeers. This recording at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rBfsdkGeMc8 is a classic.

pauline says:
30 March 2013

my husband is retired and ay home most of the time. He has turned off our landline because of the constant unsolicited sales calls that call day and night. Some I have questioned as to where they have got our number from but of course they dont really have the answer.
At work its the constant recorded calls for ppi etc and now on my mobile it started to happen.
Something has to happen to stop this harrassment – cos thats what it is.

matthew pittaway says:
30 March 2013

my mum gets calls and texts from PPI to injury claims we had calls from injury claims that started of saying someone you know has had an accident it was an american voice and i was in the states at the time she worried and got my brother to send me a message to get me to let her know i was ok

2 we also get calls daily saying they are debt mangement people and can help us with debt

P{ete says:
31 March 2013

It first started with phone calls always at meal times, so we got bt caller id so now we dont have to answer, then it went to mobiles mine is even a work phone so it proves its just pick a number and ring it, l cant bar the numbers as it is a work phone and l have to answer it as it may be a customer, now its started and increasing emails every time l open up mt email box there they are at least 50% some kind of scam, my junk box is full of them, but they keep changing there numbers you ban one and next day they are there again different number, then you add on the junk mail that fills my dust bin, theres another story

ken lewis says:
31 March 2013

As I mentioned before, the BT6500 helped me. I forgot to say why. With it you can block any unwanted calls. The relief is so good.

ros biggins says:
31 March 2013

i keep them on hold for as long as i possibly can

P Seymour says:
31 March 2013

I have to pay line rental and for many calls to business lines I am charged cat premium rates.
The regulations should be changed so that any sales calls touting for any kind of business should have to pay a credit to my telephone account.
At least then there is something to offset the nuisance of answering

Congratulations on what is probably the first novel idea in 21 pages. (Apologies to anyone else who has posted a suggestion that we have not had before.)

Ferret says:
1 April 2013

Fed up with charity beggars who always say I promised I would help them if they call back later on in the year. I help ONE and then they all flood in “oooh we have a live one here!!!”
I paid that one and then another phoned with a very similar accent, asking for payment, I said I’d already paid, they said I hadn’t and I felt intimidated to pay again….then ANOTHER one called about two weeks later!!! This one had a very strong American drawl I KNEW I HADN’T spoke to her.

It’s when they get abusive….I got called a b***h w***e s**g from one! Daft beggar hadn’t withheld his number had he so I called back…it was a chip shop!!!! Same voice and same abuse when he realised I reported it to TPS never heard another thing so dont know if it was followed up… shouldve saved the number

Tho the PPI prompt was useful….didnt use them, did it privately ages ago and got a tidy sum back! My fella gets those texts/calls and has never had a loan in his life let alone PPI

neil says:
1 April 2013

I was getting calls 4 & 5 times a day sometimes from an “out of area” international caller with no way of calling them back. I tried ignoring the calls but they persisted and as my phone provider could not block these calls I went “ex-directory” and got a new number and had to notify friends, family and banks etc which has helped but I still get some cold calls. It’s time it stopped.

Ros Baker says:
1 April 2013

Receiving calls everyday at the same time, no message, no number……….infuriatiating as one knows that it will continue until a computer is re-set by the company targetting the number.
It disturbs peace after a day at work; it distracts; it annoys – feeling powerless to stop it is the worst.

It is an outrageous taking of liberties – anything I can sign make it illegal ?…..I’ll do it.

Rob Murfitt says:
1 April 2013

Very simple question how are proper small companies expected to spread the word & obtain new business ?

Comments welcome. Rob Murfitt Stoke On Trent. Number suppied on request. Happy Easter.

Glenn says:
1 April 2013

Very Simple Answer

Use a website, facebook or twitter etc so that people can decide for themselves if they want to deal with your garbage.

I have run a business for 40+ years and never once resorted to cold calling.

Sophie says:
1 April 2013

My lie in on a SATURDAY morning was interrupted at 09.30 by someone trying to get me to change my mobile contract. SO ANNOYING!

1 April 2013

It does sometimes confuse the cold caller if you ask them whether or not they have a Mother. If they have send her your regards and if they haven’t ask them whether they would like you to adopt them. It isn’t being nasty to those who have to make a living this way and it often cheers them up!!

After yelling “Rubbish!” at one Indian cold-caller, I felt bad about it – after all, this might be one of the few jobs she can get.
The next time I had one of these calls, I spoke in a very concerned voice and said something along the lines of “Perhaps you don’t realise that the people you are working for are using you to scam people. I’m sure you are not aware of this, so I advise you for the good of your soul to get out of this outfit”. The phone was cut off pretty smartly and I haven’t had too many of these calls since.