/ Technology

How do you handle nuisance callers?

Cartoon of girl on phone

Since we launched our campaign, Calling Time on Nuisance Calls and Texts, thousands of you have shared your frustrations. And I’ve noticed that many of you adopt various strategies to cope with unwanted calls…

You may recall that we set the relevant regulators a challenge to prove to us that they’re taking action by June. In the meantime, I’ve been reading through your comments, many of which reveal numerous tactics to deal with nuisance calls and texts.

Signing up to the Telephone Preference Service (TPS) is one step you can take, but as many of you have told us, you’re still getting unwanted sales and marketing calls.

Brian is supposedly TPS protected, but he’s had to resort to using Pawley’s Peepholes as inspiration. In this short story by John Wyndham, a community battles time-travelling tourists with rude gestures. I’ll say no more. Some of you take to shouting, but I think Linda makes a good point when she says ‘screaming at a recorded message only hurts my throat, not the wretched company making the calls’. But some of you have adopted other tactics…

Tactic one: the pick up

Those who do pick up the phone are often happy to answer and even agree ‘it’s good to talk’. But, unwanted sales staff beware, many of our commenters have a trick up their sleeve.

When a scam caller claiming to be a ‘Microsoft engineer’ asked Mike whether he had a PC, he said he had two – one male and one female. Mike also told the bemused ‘engineer’ that he was hopeful a third PC would be on the way soon!

Bill’s wife told a double-glazing firm that they lived in a tent. The sales man actually called back after realising that tents don’t have landlines…

Tactic two: the put down

This seems to be one of the most popular coping tactics. Many of you just don’t answer and let calls go to voicemail, like Vince who doesn’t answer the phone before 8pm on weekdays.

Commenters Lynne and Les all put down as soon as they know it’s an unwanted call. They’ll even ask the unwanted sales caller to ‘hold the line please’, leave the phone off the hook and walk away. Les feels he’s helping out others, as he’s delaying a nuisance call to the next person on the list. Thanks Les!

Tactic three: the delegator

This is me. What better way to deal with a nuisance than deploying another ‘nuisance’. And many parents believe they have just the candidate…. My son hangs up in seconds if he suspects that it’s a silent call (apologies to the grandparents!). WB’s son likes to mimic accents and WB is happy to let him practise his ‘skills’ on unwanted callers.

Paul also lets his son answer. His son is fluent in Manx Gaelic and Paul can confirm that many sales staff are not. And finally Michael told us that he lets his son deal with unwanted nuisance calls. His son is two years old.

Of course, we don’t think you should have to adopt these tactics when the phone rings, which is why we’ve launched our Calling Time on Nuisance Calls and Texts campaign. Still, that doesn’t mean you can’t share your tactics to deal with nuisance callers.

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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Comments
Paul Smallie says:
13 June 2013

Since I work from home I suffer these guys all day and can’t seem to get rid of them. I always report UK numbers to TPSONLINE and ICO as they should know better as I am TPS registered.

The best thing I did when someone called and a real human answered, was to introduce myself as Detective Paul and they had just telephoned a murder scene and how did they know the deceased (pausing to shout at someone “PC Smith don’t walk in the blood ….”. Getting back to guy on the phone, I said their local police will call round and interview them as I have their location from their I.P Address so please wait there.

Scares them to death if I can prevent myself laughing.

John Sanders says:
15 June 2013

I thought impersonating a police officer was a criminal offense.. but I like your style 🙂

David Flint says:
13 June 2013

If they say they are doing a survey I ask what they will pay for my time. This isn’t in the playbook but I insist on an answer. When they say nothing I say my time is valuable and ring off.

RichardE says:
14 June 2013

I’ve done that…tell them that I’m happy to complete their survey, my charges are £120 per hour, or part thereof, plus VAT. And, as the clock is ticking on the first hour, I require their business details to send my invoice for the payment….

Lindsay says:
13 June 2013

I use a combined ADSL/Phone/DECT modem device that allows me to automatically divert all withheld numbers or numbers in a blacklist to one of several inbuilt answering machines. The box was not cheap but is an excellent and versatile device called a “Fritzbox” made in Germany by AVM. My model is the 7390 but they do others with less bells and whistles.

I am in total control and don’t have to pay a subscription or rental for call blocking/barring.

Steve says:
13 June 2013

These are all great tips. But the one I find works best is when the cold caller asks “Is Mr X there?”(s/he has got my name from some database), I reply “Yes, but I’m afraid he is far too drunk to come to the phone”.
They seem not to phone back.

Jenny says:
13 June 2013

If unfortunately I am not quick enough to put the phone down again I just put the phone on the side let them talk to themselves and carry on with what I was doing

Steve says:
13 June 2013

I bought a BT6500 phone set, no more nuisance calls as I can automatically reject all international calls or with held. You can even bar specific numbers—its great. Prior to this if I received a sales call (particularly for double glazing or any home improvement) , I would pretend to be keen as mustard to buy the product. Kept one guy on the line for over an hour and then asked him for the details of his company so I could ask my landlord if he’s interested– the sod hung up on me! and I am a homeowner hehe.

Lindsay says:
13 June 2013

It is a shame that the 6500 only allows 10 blocked numbers.

Mark LeBrock says:
14 June 2013

Well done for pointing this out, i nearly bought one of these from BT but what’s the point if you can only block 10 numbers. BT clearly are not helping at all with this.

Tommy says:
13 June 2013

If you have time encourage the caller with words and phrases like ” Brilliant” and ” You can do that for me ” . During the conversations I say ” I am glad you contacted me as I am just moving house and changing my telephone number. I give them the number of the Police Headquarters and the postcode. It’s good fun and I would like to be a fly on the wall when the operator answers the call
” Good morning Police Headquarters “

RichardE says:
17 June 2013

Fun, but I’d not give the Police HQ number (or any innocent third party for that matter). Have a friend who works at the local HQ and tells me that their switchboard gets jammed at times (Friday and Sat nights mainly) with nutters and timewasters, to the detrement of genuine calls.

Steve says:
13 June 2013

I usually insist that the cold caller gives me their personal home number so I can ring them back at a time of my choosing – funny they invariably refuse to give this

john degiorgio says:
13 June 2013

when i have a cold call i speak in my native language which is maltese and i have a good laugh because they are really stumped ,all the maltese people speak the language and it is only spoken in malta

Clive lewis says:
13 June 2013

We get 3 or 4 cold calls a day, despite being registered TPS. I use 2 methods depending on time. 1. Hang up if silent for more than a few seconds. 2. Wait for the hard talk to start and then just put phone on table and wonder off, come back later to check that they have given up. This wastes their time and must annoy them.

Jeff G says:
13 June 2013

O bought a CPR Global call blocker, updated it as often as needed, blocked nuisance calls, then blocked overseas with my telephone line supplier, the result? 1 nuisance call every 3 months or so!
Then I just press the button and they are blocked. Peace!!

Jeff G says:
13 June 2013

I bought a CPR Global call blocker, updated it as often as needed, blocked nuisance calls, then blocked overseas with my telephone line supplier, the result? 1 nuisance call every 3 months or so!
Then I just press the button and they are blocked. Peace!!

alan start says:
13 June 2013

i always tell them that i appreciate that they are trying to earn a living, but they are wasting their time on me, which is true.

as a comment: it is a shame that “telesales” have escalated to such an extent, because there is not enough productive work available to mostly young people.

good luck to them for trying, but it is annoying…….

RichardE says:
14 June 2013

Sorry, but I have no sympathy….I’m at present temporarily looking after an ill relative, as well as continuing my self-employed business working from home.
If I need any goods or services, I’m perfectly capable of finding what I need myself from a reputable supplier, without buying from the first cold caller who offers me a free plastic daffodil.

Jeano says:
14 June 2013

If one of those foreign calls ring me, if they ask for my husband, i merely say – do you know where he is, he has left me and i want his address, they usually put the phone down after that lol.

Fiona Graham says:
14 June 2013

That’s priceless and definitely one I’ll utilise in the future !! It might offend my hubby of 27 years, but I’m sure he’ll see the funny side eventually !!

Peter says:
14 June 2013

My first one is –
“I’ll just turn the recorder on” Then press any button (they hear the tone and hang up).

Second one,
“This is a rented property”

Third one,
“Hey up Sarge I’ve got another one !”

“SUCH FUN”
(without permission from MIRANDA !)

Chris Hebbron says:
14 June 2013

I often pretend I cannot hear them speaking and keep saying, “Hello, Hello, Hello! at 5 second intervals. They soon ring off!

Peter says:
14 June 2013

I say that I must first take them through security, and ask for the first line of their addresses, postcode, and mother’s maiden name. Once one of them even told me!

TPS is useless.

I pretend to be acutely deaf. I continually ask the caller to repeat and “speak up”. This is interjected with: “whatcha say, watcha say?” Sometimes, when the caller is at the point of apoplexy from screaming int their mouthpiece it is difficult not to laugh. Works for me!

Trinculo says:
14 June 2013

Many callers ask for Mrs Trinculo.
……..Yes, she is available at present
May I speak with her then?
……..Yes, of course, but as she is a professional consultant, first can you give me the long number from your credit card?

Funnily, they seem to lose interest after this!

Fiona Graham says:
14 June 2013

Another brilliant one !! I’m gonna enjoy these calls for a while, ‘coz I’ve picked up some brilliant tips for getting right up the sales people’s noses !!!!!!!!!

My wife’s method is quickest and kindest. She just says “Not today thankyou.” and puts down the phone.

My method depends on the type of call. For double-glazing and roof and plastic soffitt salesmen I say I already have it then, if they tell me mine is out-of-date, I say they can call and give me a quote. When the salesman calls I then send him away telling them that I’ll be dead before I recover the cost in the saving (80 next birthday).

For claims for compensation for mis-selling insurance I tell them I’ve been retired so long that nobody will insure me for anything so there is no case to answer.

For the Microsoft scam, (it has only happened to me once) I asked him to give me the serial number of the computer with the fault as there were several computers here. Then I told him I was transferring him to the network manager as I wasn’t authorised to deal with external calls. I then said that a colleague has just told me the network manager is away for the rest of the week on an anti-phishing and virus course so please call back next week after 9 am. I told him it was good to know that Microsoft was on the mark trying to help but there was nothing I could do at the moment.