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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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JSB says:
22 March 2013

It would be a start if the Regulator/Government made to illegal to cold call and withold the number, which the majority of nuisance and call centres do! One of the biggest problems is that there is no way of identifying the nuisance caller thereby making it impossible to report or police.

I get a lot of silent, recorded message and “market research” calls. I have recently complained to BT, OFFCOM, TPS and my MP. None of them can do anything. BT is not my telephone service provider but I could, with my provider, “choose to refuse” 10 numbers at a cost of £1.50 – why should I. I am registered with the TPS but they want a company’s name and address before they do anything about a complaint which apparently is not much anyway. I had a market research call today where the caller said he did not have his company’s address. I presume that the British telephone numbers used must be issued by BT – why then cannot BT provide the names of the rogue companies to the TPS, or OFFcom or whoever so that the companies can be penalised. BT should also withdraw the numbers when a certain number of complaints have been made.

Alan says:
22 March 2013

8 of the last 30 calls to our home phone are identified as “International/ Unavailable/Withheld” on the caller ID. We have got so fed up with them that we just ignore those in the first two categories, which comprise the majority. Calls in the ‘Withheld’ category include one from a relative whose number is ex-directory, so we have to answer all calls in this category so we don’t miss it.

Our service provider is BT and I feel that they should be doing more to combat this problem. They’ve recently sent us details of one of their new phones which has a facility to selectively block different types of call, so I guess their answer to nuisance calls is to sell one another phone! Not good enough BT!

Claudine Baxter says:
22 March 2013

We ignore all calls when we do not recognise the number. If the caller is “genuine” he or she will leave a message which we can pick up immediately, and respond to.

You can always ask your relative to put1470 before they dial your number, this will mean it’s not withheld (just for that call, or always for that number if you program it into the phone for your number) and will show up on your caller display. My local GP generally withholds their number, and when I pointed this out, they did just that, works just fine

Jenny says:
22 March 2013

We get a number of these nuisance calls at home all offering help with accident claims, PPI or carrying out surveys. They often have international origins which makes it hard for us to ignore as we have children and grandchildren living abroad. It might be them calling us in difficulties and needing our help. However, the worst is that my poor mother of 92, who is living independently with our support, and who gets many more calls than we do. She has a degree of dementia, is hard of hearing and her balance is terrible so that any unwanted calls are a worry and an imposition as she has to get to the phone and then doesn’t understand what they are saying. We tell her just to put the phone down but she hates to be rude and they are so persistent. I have been there when she was kept on the line talking for 10 minutes in spite of her telling them repeatedly that she wasn’t interested and that she is 92. One day I picked up her phone for her to one of these calls and told the woman on the other end that my mother wasn’t interested and cut her off. She rang back immediately to tell me I had no right to speak for my mother and how dare I cut her off like that! Both we and my mother are registered with the TPS service and reporting them seems to make absolutely no difference.

Mike Bone says:
22 March 2013

About a year ago I bought two ink jet cartridges from a company called IJT Direct on the internet. Despite sending e-mails and speaking to two “customer service” reps asking for my details to be removed from their records I get aroud 2/3 e-mails a week and telephone calls asking if I want to order anything else. I do get unsolicited calls from PPI, accident claim companies which are annoying but it’s also the unsolicited marketing telephone calls and e-mails from companies used in the past that are equally as bad. If you have asked for your details to be removed why don’t they action this. incidentally like a lot of e-mails there is a link at the bootom of the message to say you can unsubscribe from receiving e-mails but guess what this does not work as it gives a “error message” when you try to use it !!!

Steve says:
22 March 2013

If I am in the mood, then I will waste their time. If they call, tell them to hang on and I’ll get someone. Pretend to answer the door or something and then just leave them on the call.

Affect their bottom line, make it more expensive for them.

john mccolgan says:
22 March 2013

Wasting their time is the best and probably the only way to make this type of marketing ineffective and uneconomic for these companies and will put and end to it

I can see no reason for anyone calling me to withold their number, so am looking forward to getting a phone – think one is on the way – which doesn’t accept such anonymous calls. Cold callers ALWAYS withold their number.

Tom says:
22 March 2013

We need to take the offensive against nuisance calls. A campaign should be started to give POSITIVE responses.If they want an appointment with a salesman – agree – then refuse to see him when he turns up. If it is so called market research we should provide keep them on the phone as long as possible and provide fictitious info eg single, 7 children 8 bedrooms etc.

If enough people do this it will eventually become a waste of time originating the calls.

Lupton says:
22 March 2013

Since 1 March we have had a total of 32 incoming calls to our landline and 18 of these have been nuisance calls and the majority of these have been international calls. I am tired of being disturbed by the telephone at all times and having my time wasted and my temper roused. It has to stop.

Jeremy says:
22 March 2013

I signed up to the Telephone Preference Service several years ago. It cut down cold calling a bit but there are still far too many companies who ignore it and I still get several a week. They are a confounded nuisance and I certainly would not buy from them.

bill cru says:
22 March 2013

I agree TPS is a complete waste of time ..My answer to the PPI calls are I shout “get the hell off my phone”.. No it doesnt stop them but it gives me a little satifaction….
.Lets hope WHICH might get a result.

Sue says:
22 March 2013

We are not plagued by calls but when we do get them we leave them hanging on if we have the time to do so, just as many others are doing now.
An elderly neighbour had a call this week from someone saying they’d heard they were getting nuisance calls, sympathising and telling them they could put a stop to the calls and it would only cost them £1.99 per month. Luckily she said no thanks as she believed she was already registered with TPS. I am always concerned about these scammers ripping off elderly people who live alone but also people with dementia who don’t understand but tend to believe people who sound official.

Peter Homer says:
22 March 2013

I am sick to death of these calls and the ones in the evening and the weekend are the worst. I have had 4 calls so far today and when your working from home and on your mobile and the landline rings it is annoying when you answer and no-one is there. I am on the phone enough without idiots ringing me and saying that they are ringing about an accident that you’ve had and weather you want to claim and you realise that you haven’t had an accident and that they are fishing for business. These time wasters need to be stopped as I now dread the phone going and answering it and being that I have MND and talking and getting the phone is a lot harder and it sounds as if I’m drunk. People who know me know how I sound but these people ring and then insult me saying that I’m drunk so therefore, DON’T RING ME

Dave Nox says:
22 March 2013

It is one of the scourges of modern life. I don’t like to be rude and resent the intrusion. NPS is pointless as the callers take no notice of it. After several cases where I got caught, I have bought a technical solution which filters unwanted callers. With a little work on the associated internet site I can manage how repeat calls are dealt with. It has transformed my relationship with my home phone. I only wish a similar system was available for the mobile. Like others, I never answer an unfamiliar call. They can always leave a message, and I then decide what I do.

The system also allows me to record calls. Given that we are forced to deal with so many organisations by phone, it is important to be able to prove what has been said if there are any subsequent contract disputes.

There are various products and services offered to assist with this problem. I think Which might review what is on offer.

We get many calls from trhee or four power companies, usually telling us they can improve upon our present gas or electricity suppliers. Despite telling them we have no interest, back they come a few weeks later.

If we ask how the got out number, they end the call.

John Noble says:
22 March 2013

I have caller display, a phone that blocks so many calls and I belong to the totally ineffective Telephone Preference Scheme but every week I get about half a dozen annoying, unsolicited calls. I suspect a lot are from abroad but even that is difficult to work out now. Many calls are silent obviously checking if the line is a valid number and and can be quite late in the evening. Another ploy is to ask if I am willing to do a survey about something. I think it should be made law that the telephone companies should be made to publish details of all these types of calls and who is making them.

Graham says:
22 March 2013

Can anyone explain to me how O2 are able to charge me for a text sent to an organisation in order to place a stop on further contact? Why should I have to pay for a contact that I never requested in the first place?

Terence says:
22 March 2013

The nuisance calls that I regularly receives fall into three categories.
Live calls from the UK. I ask for their name, address, telephone number, and tell them that I will be reporting them to the TPS. They still call again.
Live calls from abroad, usually India. I find that the only way to stop them is to insult them, and it works.
The most worrying call are recorded messages, usually about PPI or money that someone owes you. They can tie up your telephone line which could be a serious problem if you needed to make an emergency call, fire service, ambulance etc. Even if you hang up the call does not stop. I had one recently which lasted seven minutes. I hung up immediately and then checked again and the call was still going on. It was about three minutes before the message stopped but it was a further four minutes before I could get a dialling tone. My wife is disabled and has had a number of heart attacks. If I had needed to make an emergency call that seven minute delay could have been fatal.

Judy L says:
22 March 2013

I was expecting an important call on my mobile at 3 o’clock this afternoon. At 2.55 pm the phone rang. It was a recorded message; the voice said it was “Hatton Injury”, phoning about an accident. The number that showed up was 0843 2890034.
I haven’t had an injury and I don’t know how they got my number.
Each day I normally get 3 or 4 cold calls, recorded calls or silent calls to my home number even though I belong to the TPS.

BobH says:
22 March 2013

We do get a lot of unsolicited calls, but I have not been bothered by them. In most cases I just terminate them promptly, but sometimes decide to have some sport with the caller. For example, with one of those calls which claimed that my PC had a problem, I asked the caller if he was phoning to buy my car – this went on for about 5 mins. before he realised it was a wind-up. On another occasion where I was called about claiming for accident damage, I said that our garden shed had been demolished by some object from the sky. The caller was very interested and asked for details. I said that there was a large chunk of metal in the garden with the letters N A S A on the side. He finally terminated the call abruptly himself!
Obviously those who are worried by such calls and/or exploited to make payments over the phone need protection. But surely most people can handle such calls themselves.

Jonathan says:
22 March 2013

We have been plagued by International calls for several years. They vary in frequency, from twice or three times a day to two or three calls per week. I used to own some shares – very minimal, indeed, so minimal that my certificates are no longer valid, as the price has just about faded away now. However, companies from abroad still want to buy these non existent shares from me, no doubt by trying to con me into paying a heafty fee for this trick. I have tried all ways to stop these calls, by telling them I no longer have the shares, by being polite, firm and I have even shouted at them, but without sucess. I have also tried ignoring these in-coming calls, have said that I do not accept international calls and put the phone down, but the calls still persist.
I also have heard of the new BT telephone that claims to reduce nuisence calls, but I don’t think it is down to customers to buy new equipment, particularly as I replaced our cordless phone system only a year ago. BT should provide a function on their call barring service that stops these calls being received – at no charge to their customers! It must be possible if calls from this country can stopped from getting through. Furthermore these companies should be traced and fined appropriately for invading the privicy of British citizens.

stainless steve says:
22 March 2013

Unsolicited calls daily. Luckily I have dect cordless phones that try to display the callers number. About half these calls are shown as International and we just disconnect them as calls from abroad we expect show the actual number. The International calls all sound the same- a delay, poor quality line, then a caller with a strong Asian sounding accent, hard to hear, loads of background noise. I can’t imagine they ever succeed in selling anything.
Then there are the pseudo legitimate calls originating in the UK. Usually they are live, often trying to sell insulation, posing as Government Grant agents, solar power, the inevitable PPI crooks, and car insurance ambulance chasers. Sometimes they even give their numbers. That’s good, because my phone has a feature to block specific numbers. For confirmation you can do a web search and see how many other people they have annoyed.. Then of course there are the calls with no one at the other end. Shockingly it seems the Regulator actually allows a percentage of these automated calls. Quite outrageous, they should all be illegal.
Telephone Preference Service useless, Regulator useless, Government useless or worse… And rotten excuses like “you agreed that the financial services industry could contact you”.
Bring back the Gallows!