/ Technology

How many nuisance calls do you get a week?

Angry man pulling hair out

As you might have expected, nuisance calls are ranked as the top annoyance among consumers. Our Facebook fans waded into the debate to share their frustration, as well as top tips to avoid cold callers.

A new survey from BT found that most Brits rank nuisance calls as their biggest frustration, above queue-jumpers, noisy neighbours and rude commuters. Our Facebook fan Jane has reached the end of her tether:

β€˜We’re receiving about three to four calls a day – it’s so annoying. PPI, accident claims, new boiler, etc etc. and they can get very stroppy when we tell them we’re not interested and to stop ringing us.’

Liz finds nuisance calls so annoying she’s stopped using her phone:

β€˜I get several a day. Don’t answer the phone any more unless I’m expecting an important call. Have an answer machine and I tell friends and family to leave a message and that I’ll then pick up if I’m there.’

This chimes with BT’s survey, which found that nearly half of Brits avoid answering their landline during the day, and almost a quarter have unplugged their phone altogether. This includes Anna::

β€˜There’s no point ringing friends or family on land line, or them ringing me as nobody will answer their phone! It’s pointless even having a land line. As soon as my year with the present provider is up I’m cancelling completely and will rely on my mobile for phone and internet. Maybe if we all did this the phone companies would do something about nuisance calls.’

Your solutions

As the frustration mounts, many of you have found your own solutions. Eunice has had success with Truecall:

β€˜The system Truecall monitors every call where the number is not in your system. The caller must say something (your message will ask for the caller’s name) but if a computer has rung you and nothing has been said, your phone won’t even ring. We’ve used this for years and we can see online how many nuisance calls we’ve avoided – several every day. It’s worth the cost.’

Karen has adopted a slightly cheaper technique:

’I was getting about 15 per day, I then sent a form into 192.com and I have had only 2 this week!’

And Lisa has a bit of fun with the cold callers that bother her:

β€˜I answer the phone, find out who is calling and if I do not know the caller I leave the phone on the desk with the line open – leave it for hours, doesn’t cost us anything but costs the caller a fortune! The unwanted calls are getting less and less and less … Give it a go, this works!!’

More than 100,000 of you supported our Calling Time on Nuisance Calls campaign, and with this support we convinced the Government to launch an Action Plan to tackle them. This included a call for Which? to lead a task force on how you give consent to marketing calls. The task force will announce its recommendations at the end of this year.

How many nuisance calls do you get? Do you have any tactics to stop or avoid them?


I get about 6 a week mostly on my mobile. If there is a phone number, it is added to the directory as ignore and we don’t answer them.

The most irritating are the recorded messages usually saying they are an important government announcement that don’t have a phone number.

Surely it is time the phone companies were made responsible for stopping these calls. How hard would it be to put a block on them or stop calls with no valid number reaching their destination?

It’s altered the way I regard the phone and the way I answer it. I’m sure that’s the same for many of us. Nuisance calls have changed our perception of the telephone from a useful communication tool to one of suspicion and intrusion within the home. That’s sad!

Like many people I now view every phone call with suspicion. Most callers now have to prove they are who they say they are before I’ll carry on with a call. And saying I’ve just told you who I’m calling from just doesn’t cut the mustard. Particularly as I now know the London Advisory Board don’t make cold calls, so insisting you are calling from them isn’t going to work,

And while I’m writing this the Consortium of Banks (yeah right) has just rang informing me of a scam used by the banks and I could claim back bank fees. Sigh.

I really must look into the new BT phone I think its an 8500 although I’ll then need to pay for caller id too to benefit from it.

Caller ID should be free to whoever requests. Companies like BT who within the last few years have started charging for it unless you buy line rental a year in advance should be named and shamed.

And it should be illegal for companies to withhold their number too.

Lynn says:
19 October 2014

I totally agree with everything William says in his post. I am disgusted at BT’s total indifference and unhelpfulness when I have reported the many scam and nuisance calls I have been receiving daily for over 4 months. They say they can’t trace the number (didn’t even ask me for it!) they then said it could be an internet number (??!) that they have no ways of tracing, they then tried to sell me a caller identification service for a costly monthly fee! Its despicable trying to make money out of peoples misery and distress! This service should be free to all people suffering from receiving many nuisance calls and being forced to only have the option not to answer their phone! Why are we paying such extortionate fees to the daylight robber service providers such as BT if they wont help us and are not interested enough to exercise their duty of care to their customers??! I agree with William, name and shame them! Oh and make a nuisance of yourself for a change and bombard the service providers with complaint calls about the rogue calls being received and their ‘serice’!

Lynn says:
19 October 2014

Soory! *service !

Cold calls are the only time I get the chance to be utterly abusive with I think justification because these calls are an intrusion. On the whole I’d rather they didn’t bother because they’re going to get nothing from me whoever they are whatever they are selling simply because they cold called. Trouble is too many people are polite to them or worse still they actually buy from them. If it’s only one in a thousand it still makes it worthwhile for the cold caller. So the solution is really in our own hands isn’t it?

Lynda says:
8 August 2016

Yes, but, you’re forgetting the thousands of elderly people, who have a landline, and it is literally a lifeline for them,… And they are not understanding of today’s technology – they will still answer calls like this… They are vulnerable adults, and they should be protected, especially by the phone companies, they deserve at least that courtesy…!!

Getting 2-3 calls a week, very annoying indeed. Currently with Virgin.

I agree that caller ID should be a free feature. After all it is a built in function of the phone system. Charging for it is just disingenuous.

So, the calls.

If it is one of the Windows computer calls I just say I have a Linux machine, not Windows. That works. My wife points out that I am an IT expert, true, and then they go away.

Most others go away as soon as I ask for the company address and the reason for the call.

Ian, You are correct but you are far more polite and reasonable than I am.
On the windows scam calls I say “now you know and I know you are not windows and that there is nothing wrong with my computer” “so ***s off and get your self a proper job”

For the others
My set answer for those “doing a survey” is “I don’t do surveys because it gives you and others permission to cold call me” followed by “so ***s off and get your self a proper job”

For others the response varies a bit but usually ends with the same line.

They keep coming back for more though so there must be some suckers playing along with them.

Lynda says:
8 August 2016

Iam getting 2-3 a day from India…..

alan says:
11 October 2014

Most of my nuisance calls I believe are from abroad as am registered with BT to block ones from UK. which on the whole does work, so why cant this system be applied to foreign calls also? When I get these calls I say nothing + put the phone in another room leaving them chatting away, or simply shout F… off + then put it in another room. I do wonder what they gain from these calls as they claim they are only doing a survey?

Jackie says:
17 October 2014

I’ve solved the problem on my land line by buying a BT call guard handset which works on the same principle as True Call but the calls to my mobile drive me insane, I get at least 6 calls a day most days, I wish T-Mobile / EE would bring out a similar service to BT Call Guard I would even be willing to pay, I dread my mobile ringing where as with my landline I now know it will be either family or friends because all the cold callers aren’t getting through. I recently checked the incoming calls and Call Guard had blocked 4 calls in an afternoon, fantastic I just need the same service on the mobile now.

Trisha says:
4 November 2014

In response to Jackie, report all spam texts to T-mobile on their 7726 number. They’ll text you back, asking you to forward spam message and say they’ll investigate. Can also report to ICO. Don’t know if anything will improve soon though…

Jackie says:
4 November 2014

Thanks Trisha will give that a try.

Apart from charities for whom I sign petitions and feel they could call me whenever they like, by far the worst is the PPI company who calls me often 3 times per day sometimes every day and certainly 4 or 5 days per week. I’ve told them to take me off their list and nothing happens. Now if I see that the phone number is them, then I don’t answer the phone. It’s really irritating and particularly at the moment because my internet connection is so poor that an incoming phone call can temporarily cut off my internet access. Am trying to sort this out but the PPI people have been doing this for 6 months or more and I’m totally frustrated by their inability to respond to my request to take my name and telephone number off their call list.

Natalie Carpenter says:
18 October 2014

Several things to be done.Just keep asking ‘WHY’ this really throws them as they start by launching into their chat and then after usually the third’WHY’ they hang up.
Then the ‘please hold on I will get the person you ask for I am sure they will be interested’ play them very loud rock music and leave them until they are fed up.
Start asking them personal questions in a nice way-whats your name?Where are you calling from? Do you have to work all hours? Do you have a pet? and so on and so on and on and on.They are trying to sell you something and do not want to chat.
Look on these calls as a challenge of who hangs up first-it will change your whole attitude!

I get 4 or 5 nuisance calls a day, including Sundays, any time up about 9pm.
I am with TPS. A few months ago I rang them to check I was still registered as I was getting so many nuisance calls. A few minutes later I got a call from pro call blocker assuring me they could sell me a gadget that would stop unwanted overseas calls.
I don’t see that as coincidence.
Why don’t the phone companies do something about these calls? They must know where they are coming from. I pay a ridiculous amount of money to them for a phone for my convenience, not for some cold caller to irritate the hell out of me. Even when I don’t answer the calls, I still have to stop what I’m doing to go to the phone and see who it is.

Lynn says:
21 October 2014

GDL: That’s shocking! Surely TPS don’t pass on our details?…..or do they?! Like you, I don’t see it as a coincidence either, *she says sceptically and with one eyebrow raised! Gosh, is nothing sacred anymore?! I plan on ringing TPS myself tomorrow to ask them just how it is that so many cold calls are getting through…… we will see what they say though I don’t hold out much hope as the last time I reported a number calling me it was a laborious task, involving them sending me a form to complete and return, and a ‘diary’ to keep! Good job the TPS service is free! If it weren’t it would join with the many services that charge a lot for little return!

Lynn. Don’t bank on getting a person. When I phoned all I got was a recorded message saying I was already registered.
I’ve given up on them. I google all the nuisance ones with a number, you can usually find out who they are and report them.
Glad you liked the message from the , as yet, undead. I only see the funny side when I’ve been out all day and haven’t been bothered by any calls.

Barbara says:
20 October 2014

I apparently need a new boiler, cavity wall insulation, help with a debt problem and help to claim PPI – I must do because I receive at least 3-4 calls a day to tell me so. (Just a sample!)
We now don’t answer any calls that come up as “withheld” or “unavailable” – (which almost led to us ignoring a call re a hospital appointment!). We have an answer machine so like many others screen incoming calls and I would agree that the worst calls are those that leave messages on the machine. Often when we have been away we come home to as many as 10 messages – all unsolicited.
I feel very angry about the intrusion. I pay for the convenience of the telephone but find its presence increasingly annoying.
The phone companies need to tackle this problem.

You’re lucky Barbara. With all the accidents I’m told I’ve had that weren’t my fault, I think I’m theoretically dead.

Lynn says:
21 October 2014

GDL, that was so funny, even though making a serious point! Thanks for cheering us all up after the stress of unwelcome calls again today! πŸ™‚

Linda says:
21 October 2014

I get at least four a day. Two about boilers and another which starts as “Dear Customer”. I also got one from Microsoft and I turned the phone off. The caller rang me back and angrily asked why. I replied that I didn’t want to speak to her and turned it off again. She rang back but I ignore it.

Linda says:
21 October 2014

I get at least four a day. Two about boilers and another which starts as “Dear Customer”. I also got one from Microsoft and I turned the phone off. The caller rang me back and angrily asked why. I replied that I didn’t want to speak to her and turned it off again. She rang back but I ignored it.

Don Eaves says:
21 October 2014

Had over a dozen calls in two days, some silent, all others with a different foreign voice from something called UK Habits, number witheld, I asked a couple of them to take my number off their records, but they still keep coming back. It is time these maggots were banned from making a nuisance of themselves.

Don Eaves says:
21 October 2014

Just had the eighteenth cold call from UK Habits, they just won’t take no for an answer!

Brian says:
11 November 2014

15 calls one day last week from UK Habits. They use a variety of number and my phone now has the maximum amount of blocked numbers on it. The callers are usually rude and were upsetting other people in the house so I tried engaging with them, asking politely at first to desist ringing my number and take it off the database. They said they couldn’t, I said it was easy, put me through to your supervisor, he said he couldn’t etc etc. The conversation gradually got louder and angrier and he hung up eventually. I have seen on other sites that someone had managed to get an address for UK Habits but it turned out to be invalid. The company must be registered somewhere so why can’t they be shut down as they are clearly in breach of who knows how many regulations?

Lynn says:
21 October 2014

Don, have you tried answering the phone and saying someone has just come to the door and ask them to hold, then putting the receiver down and walking away and leaving it for 10 minutes? Bet they will have hung up by then! And if they persist in still calling you, do this each time, rather than engage in conversation with them. Maybe a few times doing that and they will eventually realise how much it has cost them to get nothing at all from you, not even any argument with them, and so hopefully they will then stop! I’ve done this before with a few callers….and for the odd caller that this has failed with, the next time they have called I kept a whistle handy and used to blow a loooong, very shrill, loud whistle down the phone! It eventually worked for the persistent ones! Sadly others cold callers have since jumped on the bandwagon though! I now screen all my calls so don’t answer the nuisance callers at all. A friend has recently advised me to do what she used to do, tell them the person they are asking for has recently died! Apparently this worked for her! Good luck!

Trisha says:
4 November 2014

We’re constantly bombarded with calls – the current ‘favourite’ is the government scheme for solar panels – I’ve got to the stage now where I’m thinking of arranging appointments with them – so that I can tell them to ‘go away’ – see how they like their time wasted!

Arlette says:
24 October 2014

I receive automated calls from Barclays 3 time per day every day for the past 3 months
PPI calls twice a day
EON once a day
When I got one from M&S I was so angry that I decided to stop shopping there

Robert Ricket says:
24 October 2014

I get loads of unsolicited calls each day but they all go unaswered unless my answering machine picks them up, in which case after letting them build up for a week or more I simply go through them and delete them. It doesn’t bother me, if they want to waste their money then fine!

I tried that but got so many unsolicited calls that my machine was blocked with people saying absolutely nothing or to return the call press whatever. In between this were a couple of calls from private numbers which I should have answered. I stopped answering them because I get so many calls from private numbers trying to sell me something I don’t want.
How am I supposed to know the difference?
The phone companies know which private numbers are sending out more calls than average, why don’t they check up on them.

Maybe I’m lucky but I’ve used the answering machine method for ages and I rarely get any messages left.

I leave the ringers off and only know I’ve had scam calls when I look at the list of missed calls.

Once or twice I’ve had an automated call leaving a message that just says “Goodbye” – sweet really!

But so far, no human cold-caller has ever left a message.

Lynn says:
26 October 2014

Maybe we could all take a leaf out of this guy’s book and have the cold callers on the run….! > >

The bit of the transcript that I didn’t quite get was:
“….. they wouldn’t let him get off the phone …..” – just hang up!

Arlette says:
26 October 2014

The problem is I cannot ignore phone calls from numbers not listed in my phone memory as this is a number where clients call so new numbers as well and I have private friends whose numbers are “hidden”
Now I start also to receive automated calls on my mobile phone
Yesterday miracle not a single call on either phones! I started wondering if my phones were working
This situation puts me in very very bad mood I am so so frustrated

Yeah, it’s tricky when you’re using the phone for business but, if you’re really desperate for a solution, you could try this.

Set up your answering machine so that you can hear the caller. You can then pick-up if it’s a client or a friend.

You could phrase your message to encourage clients/friends to speak and we all know that scam callers never leave a message.

If you do get caught by a lying, cheating …. (sorry delete that) …. telemarketer, just hang up as soon as you realize. No need to politely terminate the call – just hang up and get on with your life.

Arlette says:
27 October 2014

The problem with clients (mine call from almost every continent) is that if they do not get an answer the first time they go somewhere else and I know -when, I, am a client that II do not let messages on answering machine -( not even my friends’ ) I call somewhere else
the problem is my exasperation is so big that it infringes my daily life, I am in a bad mood most times , and I am someone who does not like being in bad mood
Not had a single call this morning ! and I dread when my phone will ring : this is driving me insane

The ICO are getting so many complaints that can’t cope, that’s why they’re using survey monkey to collate the details to see who to proceed against. This show that the problem is so bad that the regulator can’t cope.

If there was a number – say 7726 (SPAM) – Like 1471, that you could call to report the previous call instantly, it would make everyone’s life easier.

Also under antiterrorism regulations I believe a record of every call made is stored? Well here’s some joined up thinking – why not use the above report to generate a query to this database to get the source of all these cold calls? Once a source is identified then block it from making calls. Problem solved, at source.

@Alister, Last year I created a government epetition do do something very similar to what you’re suggesting. I don’t think it even managed to get 20 votes. πŸ™

And yes it would make life so much easier as, as soon as a telecom company get 100 votes against a number they would simply be forced to block it.

One day out wish might come true, one day.

@Alister @william

“If there was a number – say 7726 (SPAM) – Like 1471”
“as soon as a telecom company get 100 votes against a number”

Truly excellent way to facilitate a sort of ‘denial-of-service’ attack on your rival’s business!

Get all yer mates to 7726 ’em

It only takes 100 and your rival’s stuffed.

@bib1, true, its sad the sort of world we live in but I for one registered with the TPS for a reason, so a “legit” company gets prevented from ringing me or anyone else, there are other methods to contact people.

And many “legit” business are behind the nuisance calls, just look at boards quoting insurance companies and comms companies for producing spam calls. Some have even been fined for doing it. Its all just petty cash to these big players, being unable to call people might force them to clean their acts up more than the current fines.

Maybe the “legit” business could be persuaded to pay to opt into a register of companies that can’t be blocked. There are ways round everything.

And I wonder why your “rival” company would be ringing so many people working for “your” company. πŸ™‚


“could call to report the previous call instantly,”

so in order to Denial of service to your rival, they’d have to call 100 of your mates, and they would have to report them? The only way a call can be reported with this system is, IF it actually calls a number.

@Alister @William: Exactly what I meant !

“…. so in order to Denial of service to your rival, they’d have to call 100 of your mates, and they would have to report them? The only way a call can be reported with this system is, IF it actually calls a number …”

An unscrupulous company only needs to ‘rent-a-mob’ to make innocent sounding enquiries to a rival business and wait for the rival to call back, chasing up what he/she thinks are genuine sales enquiries.

The mob then 7726’s each call and an innocent business is barred from making phone calls.

Just saying ….. life’s not that simple. But please don’t take my comments as aggressive – we’re all on the same side here – scam calls drove me to take desperate measures – see my other posts on Which? Conversations – I’m ok now but I try to help out where I can.