/ 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?


My nuisance calls have reduced dramatically since I decided to say “No” to the usual question “Are you the house-owner?” If they believe that you only rent your property they quickly realise that they will not achieve the objective of brain-washing you into purchasing a new boiler, new windows or the inevitable solar panels.

And when an “IT-savvy Asian gentleman” tells me that he can fix my computer, he is promptly told that I do not possess a computer. At which point he promptly rings off.

Consequently, I am now scarcely troubled by these parasites. Try it, it may work for you!

I’ve tried all that but still they call. Now I tell them I died last week and hang up

I never admit to being the person who they think is resident at my address. Why assist a potential fraudster by confirming you are still at the address linked with your telephone number?

Which brings me to my key point. Why should electoral officers be permitted to sell electoral rolls to all and sundry. I’m sure that this is potentially illegal? Can “Which” tell us if they have examined this issue and if so what their conclusions were?

“Why should electoral officers be permitted to sell electoral rolls to all and sundry.” There are 2 electoral registers , one is a general one called ‘the open register’ that you can opt out of and is the one they can sell. The other other you can’t opt out off and they can’t sell that one. You just have a read the voting forms very carefully to find the right box to tick. And yes it is a pain.

I am well aware of the situation you describe. Because it is a pain, perhaps the time has come to require people to physically opt IN to be included in the roll that is sold, rather than opting out.

Notwithstanding this, why should personal details be readily available to those who would attempt to empty our bank accounts? There is too much private information in the public domain leading to increasing fraud. It is not rocket science to take steps to reduce it.

Lynn says:
3 November 2014

@ Dick “…perhaps the time has come to require people to physically opt IN to be included in the roll that is sold, rather than opting out.” and “There is too much private information in the public domain leading to increasing fraud. It is not rocket science to take steps to reduce it.” – I couldn’t agree with you more! The solution is largely in the hands of the powers that be – in all areas – who can, and should, do their bit to reduce the problem and stop it at source.

I was really amused by this one.
My 4yr old Granddaughter was expecting a call from me. When the phone rang she picked it up and was chatting about school and what she’d been doing so Mum left her to it. After a while Mum realised that someone kept asking if Mummy or Daddy was there. When she listened a bit closer she realised that the voice sounded like an Indian accent and definitely wasn’t me. The little one kept saying yes, I’ll get Mummy in a minute but I just want to tell about this. Mummy decided it would be rude to interrupt and left her to it. The caller eventually hung up and modern day miss told her Mum, Nanny’s lost her signal, I’ll talk to her tomorrow.
Bless her, she still doesn’t know it wasn’t me and has never questioned the fact that I might have sounded different when I saw her a few days later.

Lynn says:
5 November 2014

@ GDL……..BRILLIANT! Hahaha! Can I please borrow your granddaughter?! sadly I don’t have one of my own! πŸ˜‰ Haha, you could be on to a good solution for many here – put the kids on the phone! And if any are a bit older and more able to understand who they are talking to, just get them to pretend they don’t understand that its not a family member and rabbit on about their day anyway! Better than any answering machine message saying not interested or an adult pleading or shouting at them to not call again and telling them to remove their details! Bless your granddaughter! Made me smile that one ! πŸ™‚

Lynn, you’ve just given me an idea. If I record her(she has no problem rabbiting on non stop for longer than any cold caller would want to listen) I can put the recording on and leave it until they hang up. They might get the message if they get her every time.
For the last two weeks I’ve been telling them I died last week if they ask for me by name. Still they call and ask for me by name. You would think being dead would stop them but it hasn’t. Perhaps a few doses of non stop rabbit will do it.

On one of the Top Gear shows, Jeremy Clarkson was given a CD of Lady Thatcher’s greatest speeches to play in his car; maybe we could use that, perhaps on some endless loop.

Castle wrote: …. Clarkson was given a CD of Lady Thatcher’s greatest speeches …”.

Although I agree that a CD of Thatcher (or any other politician) would be mind-grindingly tedious, surely a recording of the great man himself played on an endless would be better suited for the purpose?

Agreed, perhaps we need to run some tests to see which is the most effective!

Lynn says:
5 November 2014

GDL, haha….well in the dire absence of the Government and any other body actually helping us stop these calls that sounds like a plan to me!! πŸ˜‰ Maybe even release her rabbiting so we can all use it? – haha! Someone gave me the advice to say the person being asking for was dead, if they keep on. Apparently it worked for them!

Given that our MP’s seem to have perpetual rigor mortis over tackling this issue, I have now resorted to giving unwanted callers my local MP’s phone number with an indication that she is anxious to have a call about their product etc.

If we all did this, maybe we can make some progress and light a fire under the Westminster Wasters.

I like that one dick.
I am getting scores of calls that come up as private numbers. I don’t speak, they don’t speak.
Really annoying.
For weeks I have been telling the ones that ask for me by name that I died last week. Apparently that is not an obstacle for them, still they call.
I’ll try it your way now. At least I can get a giggle doing that instead of the bad language I usually use.

Genie says:
19 November 2014

I have just had yet another phone call that starts ‘Dear Customer’….I never press a number to speak to someone as I’m concerned I might be charged. But I really want to speak to a ‘customer advisor’ so I can tell them exactly what I think. Re calls from India….I always tell them to hold on a minute…then give them a blast from my harmonica of The Funeral March….then ask if they liked it….then tell them to F….off.

busby (retired) says:
23 November 2014

Hi do you realize that by donating to charity by chuggers leaves you open to being put o the suckers list of good people willing to donate money to good causes.A call centre firm called Pell and bales with a list of clients from well known charitys will phone you up to get you to increase your D/D.
I was shocked that well known charitys 20 plus names like red cross/Nspcc/Unicef /British legion/Cancer research /Nat trust/barnardos etc use this firm they are proud to say on their web site the charitys will use them and they are proud of their reputation! So by donating to them they will not be satisfied and be like Oliver Twist and ask for more!!!!!!!!!.And they will target the the same people for more.that is only the English call centres.
The Indian call centres I use a different tactic I answer the fictions door/oven alarm /toilet break/Oh I will go and get them they are down the garden ploy I then pick up the phone after a minute or two and say they are just coming until I get bored with playing with them i then warn them that if they call again to harass me the will get a loud blast of a whistle down the line/screech mugging/air horn device that will hurt their ears. The government/Mp s do not seem to want to stop this harassment perhaps they are directors of some of these firms Tps and I c o are about as useful as a chocolate teapot.I am partially deaf and have trbleI understanding their accents/use of English and have politely asked them to stop this harassmentOh there is a election next year suddenly they have woken up at last If we all contact our MP s perhaps they will understand their inaction and our reaction to their slumbers! Perhaps if we give our MP s phone nos to these sites they will do something about it I live in hope retired Busby

If the government are looking into fining nuisance callers it proves that they know who they are.
Why don’t they just cut them off?
I’ll answer that myself, it’s because they are more interested in getting fines from them than doing anything to stop us being harassed.
Why don’t the government give a number for us to report nuisance calls?
Because they can make money from them and don’t want to be bothered by us.

If they are only interested in fines, then why has there only been a dozen or so, if that, in the last 10 years?

It looks very much as if government pays too much attention to industry and not enough to those who elect them. I’m not just referring to the current government.

Lobby groups and donors all carry a lot of weight with the major parties, not representative of the population but good at manipulating politicians (and no doubt their civil servants?).

GDL I think what you said is what you call ‘hitting the nail on the head’! As with most other things, it’s more about the money than the people!

Here’s a trick I tried – and it seemed to work. I was called by someone claiming to be from Microsoft. I am well aware of this scam and previously I tried telling them I have Linux or a Mac to no avail. This time I said ‘Oh yes – hang on just a moment. I have to switch this little box on and wait for the light to go green – please keep talking…. at which point he rang off. I’ve not heard from them since. Of course there is no box but I just wondered whether he would be curious enough to continue. He wasn’t but he clearly knew I wasn’t talking about a router πŸ™‚

Lynn. I’m afraid money seems to come first on everything these days. I don’t think ‘the customer is always right’ applies to anything anymore.
It would be interesting to know where the money from these fines goes, I bet it’s not to give us a refund.

You’re so right, we really don’t matter, certainly not enough for anyone to protect us from the scammers and parasites out there. Like you, I’m sure we won’t see a penny of it, and it sure doesn’t seem to get ploughed back into resources to find and stop these people does it! It’s just another ploy for the Government to make money out of exploiting the misery of others! Hmmm… nothing new there then!

. The ones I hate most though, start with a dreary voiced woman on a recording. This usually starts with “Please listen carefully, our records show you are owed a considerable amount in PPI, or their records show Ive had an accident. You then get two choices, one is to have a “consultant” ring you back, or another to be signed out of their contact list. After taking that option a number of times and still getting called, you ask to speak to a consultant, who you are told, will ring back within 24 hours as they are so busy. Eventually, someone rings you about “your request to speak to us”, but when asked what company they are from, they get very shady. Ask for their CEOs family number and you will be told they arent allowed to give that out. Ask where they go your number from, and the line goes dead.

Richard Farrar says:
24 November 2014

We have been getting between twenty and forty unsolicited calls per week so I now let all calls go through to an answer-phone. Any of our friends who call the landline know to leave a message and we’ll call them back.
The calls that irritate me the most are from official sounding companies like UK Advice Bureau who claim to have had a referral from the Road Traffic Department. These are illegal calls and I hope that they get slapped with huge fines, if they can be caught.

Yep, the answerphone solution – works every time (unless you run a business from home).

Still getting calls from the (apparently) UKIP-related, Constituency Polling who display their number as 02 071 833 621.
Two or three a day.
They are following some sort of pattern, trying different times of the day etc. to catch me “in”.
All unanswered of course, as they’re not on my whitelist and they don’t leave a message.

There really is a certain evil pleasure to be had from looking up their number on WhoCallsMe and knowing they cannot get to me.
The nice demon on my other shoulder says they’re only doing their job – but “now, he don’t so loud”.

Carl Allen says:
8 December 2014

I get 4-8 nuisance calls daily.

Decided to fight back when pressing the nine number did not remove my number from the call lists.

Suffice to say that many a call worker has called their supervisor to deal with me and many a supervisor has called their boss to deal with me in an hour’s worth of conversation.

It requires some skill to get the call worker to call the supervisor/boss early and then get the supervisor/boss not to hang up in less than an hour.

3 new comments have come up on my newsfeed but are not on here, what’s happened to them?

I think the website is struggling at the moment. I have noticed a number of problems with finding comments listed on the home page. The links don’t seem to be working correctly. And the date sequence of comments has gone haywire in some places.

Jannie says:
14 May 2015

A few things I’ve tried for a laugh:
Answer calls with “Good morning/afternoon, Cheshire Constabulary, desk sergeant speaking. How can I help?”

If you speak a foreign language, as I do, speak in that language, the more obscure the language, the better.

If you get an International call, ask them where they are calling from. If they say somewhere in the UK, tell them you grew up there, and start asking if your (fictional,) primary school is still there etc.

Ask them for their number, then tell them you’ll call back when they are relaxing at home watching the TV.

Tell them your husband/wife/partner deals with this matter, whatever it is, and you’ll just fetch them, then leave the phone off the hook.

Use an answerphone, with the greeting “For security reasons, and in accordance with current Government legislation, all calls to this number are being monitored. Calls may also be used for training purposes.”

Steve Hippel says:
3 July 2015

Like many of your commentators, I leave the phone of the hook and make them pay but it would be better to punish the companies that are really responsible by hitting them in the pocket. Publish a list of British companies that sponsor these surveys and encourage people to boycott them.

I know many people are fraud but some are good I am Indian but I don’t do call center work.