You might think nuisance calls are just a passing annoyance. But, for many, unsolicited phone calls are more than just a nuisance. We’ve heard form vulnerable people who find these calls distressing and intimidating.
I want you to imagine that you’re at home on your own. Now, imagine that you’re worried about something, perhaps you’re unwell and you’re waiting for the hospital to call. Many have shared such stories here on Which? Conversation as part of our Calling Time on Nuisance Calls and Texts campaign.
There’s a serious side to nuisance calls that’s making life a lot harder for people. Here are just some of the thoughts you’ve shared.
‘At one point she refused to answer the phone at all’
Norie was recently diagnosed with terminal cancer. This required him to sit by the phone waiting for calls from three different hospitals so that arrangements could be made for radiation therapy. I’ll leave it to Norie to tell you what happens next:
‘Can you imagine the distress caused, when nerves on edge, my wife and I would answer the phone to find some twit wittering on about PPI compensation, solar energy panels, loft insulation grants. I wish I’d kept a log, but was too distraught to do so at the time. The stress and untold harm that did to my body, whilst carrying the dreaded disease, is immeasurable.’
Norie is registered with the Telephone Preference Service (TPS).
We also heard from Penny who told us about her 94-year-old mother. Every time the phone rings, Penny’s mother has to switch off the TV to get up to answer the phone. Not only is this physically difficult for her, when she does answer the phone she finds the calls intimidating:
‘These calls are often about computers or debt services. She finds this quite scary and at one point refused to answer the phone at all, which worried us as we did not know if she was unwell.
‘Now when we phone her we let the phone ring twice, put the phone down then call again. This alerts her to the fact that one of her family is trying to speak to her. But we should not have to do this.’
Penny’s mother is registered with the TPS.
‘These calls really are a harassment’
Which? Conversation has received so many of these stories. Keith’s wife was diagnosed with MS 28 years ago and, now 77, she’s confined to a wheelchair. When she’s alone in the house and she answers the phone to a silent caller, she becomes distressed:
‘All that effort which she often has to spend just getting from where she is to the telephone, only to find that there is no one to speak to.’
Again, this couple is registered with the TPS.
R. Thomas suffers from Parkinson’s disease and also has a respiratory disease requiring constant oxygen:
‘The problem is that, as I need and often receive calls pertaining to my care and activities, I just cannot ignore the phone when it “rings”.
‘They are nearly always calls re PPI or loan insurance. I can receive up to 15 to 20 calls a day. I really am fed up, surely there must be a way that these calls can be stopped or the perpetrators prosecuted because they really are a harassment. If only I was well enough I would be able to pursue the problem actively but I’m powerless. I support any action that you are able to take to effect and remove this blight on my time and health.’
So on behalf of everyone here and the many, many others who have told us that there is a much more serious side of nuisance calls, we’re listening.
[UPDATE 10/06/2013] – We’re now calling on the government to take action on nuisance calls and texts amid our latest research which reveals the scale of the problem.
We gave regulators 12 weeks to form a joint taskforce to stop unwanted calls and texts. Time’s up. While there has been some progress and coordinated action, there needs to be a new tougher approach, led by the government. You can help by pledging your support for our Calling Time on Nuisance Calls and Texts campaign here.