/ Technology

Nuisance calls & texts: we can’t hear you Ed Vaizey MP!

Man listening with ear

It’s been a month since we asked the government to call time on nuisance calls & texts. In this open letter to Communications Minister Ed Vaizey, we ask him to answer the calls of the 75,000 who are fed up with this menace.

Dear Mr Vaizey,

On the 10th June we asked you to call time on nuisance calls and texts by strengthening the law.

A month has passed and we’re still on hold. You have been worryingly silent on an issue that directly impacts eight in 10 people in the UK. In the past month alone, while we’ve been waiting for you to answer, we estimate that UK consumers have received 767 million unwanted calls.

We’ve heard John Whittingdale MP commit the CMS Select Committee to looking at the issue. And we have a new All Party Group and Private Members Bill thanks to Mike Crockart MP. But we are still waiting to hear how you will help to answer the calls of over 75,000 consumers who have pledged their support for our campaign, and want you to put a stop to this nuisance.

With only a handful of days before Parliament packs up for the long summer holiday, there is just time for you to say what you will do in the forthcoming Communications Review to deliver change. We urge you to review the existing rules without delay and commit to putting in place measures that would ultimately cut off nuisance calls and help consumers to screen and block unwanted calls.

Specifically changes must be made to the way consumers’ data is used by introducing:

  • An expiry date when a person consents to being contacted by ‘selected third parties’
  • An obligation on businesses to be able to prove to the Information Commissioner (ICO) that a person gave consent to being contacted.

We also ask that your Communications Review:

  • Extends the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations (PECR) to include firms selling on personal data, not just those that conduct direct marketing
  • Lowers the threshold for the ICO under PECR to take enforcement action, so that it doesn’t have to find evidence of harm but just prove a breach of the rules
  • Strengthens enforcement action that can be taken against companies which call people registered with the Telephone Preference Service.

We urge you to make your voice heard and commit to calling time on nuisance calls. We don’t want to add a silent Minister to the problem of silent and nuisance calls.

Yours sincerely,

Richard Lloyd, Which? Executive Director

Comments
Member

Many Which? campaigns have some opposition, but most of us suffer from nuisance calls, and some are pestered incessantly.

It is very disappointing that Richard has not received a reply to a communication that should be treated as a matter of urgency.

Member
Alex Kerr says:
10 July 2013

I am so sick and tired of these phonecalls and texts. Mostly phonecalls to the landline. I have been listed on the TPS for ages and still receive daily calls. Recorded messages, sales reps, sometimes just background call centre noise. B.T. are not interested. Please do something about this!
I’ve tried hanging up, asking to be removed from their list, shouting, leading them on and wasting their time for ten minutes and just answering and then setting the handset on the side. Nothing works.

Member

The answer isn’t forcing the end user into paying to block these calls. These calls shouldn’t even be connected in the first place.

And reporting such nuisance calls, must be made easier, if I get a call with a return number, then that number should a) be valid, and not as in many cases bogus, b) all that’s need by the TPS or whoever to track down the culprit. Or even better allow people to enter a code during or after a nuisance call to flag that call up as a nuisance and those details passed to the relevant regulator.

Doing little or nothing seems to be a common theme for regulators in this country, and its time that changed.

Member

Mr Vaizey,

You have the power to put a stop to this plague.

Why aren’t you listening to the thousands of victims?

WHY AREN’T YOU DOING ANYTHING?

Member

I very rarely supply my real telephone number when asked online as I do not wish to be troubled by nuisance calls. I obtained a great many travel insurance quotes recently, gave my correct email address but a ficticous telephone number. Since then I have received several PPI claims and Injury claim emails but I am able to delete them straight away. Sorry if I inadvertently used a real number but there was no need for my telephone number to be supplied. If the quote was acceptable, then I would have been happy to supply my telephone number and any other personal details.

Following a recent donation to a children’s charity, I received several telephone calls from them. They did not leave a message but kept calling me. Eventually, I called them back and had a go about this harassment, that ended the calls. If we can’t trust reputable charities with our contact details then who can we trust? I think until legislation catches up with nuisance callers and those companies selling our private information, we must all take responsibility and guard our private information, including our telephone numbers.

Member
richard says:
11 July 2013

Some years ago I stopped automatically answering calls – they are ALL intercepted by my answering machine (that I had before the cold call problem) . Now my Cold telephone calls are ONE A YEAR – it used t be 10 A DAY – My friends and businesses know to SPEAK to get an answer Works for me.

Member
Christina Varnham says:
11 July 2013

MR VAIZEY, WHEN ARE YOU GOING TO LISTEN TO MR RICHARD LLOYD (Executive Director of ‘WHICH’) representing the THOUSANDS of people who are bothered daily by these NUISANCE CALLS. We, the public, want an answer immediately, or appoint somebody into your position, who will take us all seriously and not treat us with such obvious distain. The gloves are off Mr Vaizey. If you can’t manage the job, move over and allow somebody to do it who can.

Member
jim says:
11 July 2013

I think everybody is harassed with these calls, I now follow these simple points, 1. Leave your answerphone on, 2.Get a caller ID enabled phone then choose to answer or not, 3 If they show a number and you don’t recognise it then go to ,www whocallsme.com enter said number and find who they are, 4 then report them to the ICO/TPS/OFCOM the more complaints these regulators get the more they have to act, if you want to be a bit naughty which I am with persistent callers if they have left their numbers i give them some of their own medicine by calling them back repeatedly and with holding my number and give them the silent treatment it drives them mad LOL.

Member
John wooldridge says:
28 July 2013

Anyone else having silly o clock texts from payday lenders at 3-4am every weekend? Had enough now even tried contacting companies direct but they have no interest at all! Between them and calls and texts from accident companies saying I have x amount of money for the accident I had, what bloody accident? I am ready to be nasty now totally had enough grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr

Member

Some good news for you. After calling on the government to strengthen the law on nuisance calls and texts, it has announced plans to clamp down on this menace. The government plans to:

• Make it easier for Ofcom and the ICO to share data about nuisance calling companies.
• Lower the threshold for the ICO to take enforcement action, meaning it won’t have to prove distress or substantial harm before fining rule breakers.

The ICO has also announced a joint action plan with Ofcom, answering our calls for the regulators to work closer together against nuisance calls and texts. Thanks to all of you for increasing the pressure!

Member

Big deal !!!!

Is this going to stop cold calling? I don’t think so.

Member
Bryan Flinn says:
12 October 2013

I had a call earlier this week from a man who asked me if I was being plagued by survey and telephone sales calls.
Happy to tell my plight of being registered with the absolutely worthless TPS, a classic example of how self regulation doesn’t work ( how many fines they have issued since coming into existence and how much money has been received from these fines ?) and of getting calls up to three times a day by various Indian call centres.
I told him of the numerous disruptions, time wasted by being called away from meals, or going to bed after working a shift and being woken by a survey telephone call.
I told him I was considering “Going off the grid” and changing my number, which would be inconvenient for all who know me and our family.
This chap told me he worked for a company who had a solution to my problems. This sounded too good to be true but listening on. He told me the TPS had run out of money since the country was in such a financial crisis, that was why they were ineffective, but for around £1.80 a month, his company could block all nuisance calls, both UK and international. Hardly able to believe this sales pitch, I listened until he asked me if I would like to join up ? When I said most definitely not, the line went dead…..!

Member

I think the TPS should also cover so-called “market research” calls, since these are just as intrusive as sales and marketing calls, if not more so. And according to a recent report by BBC’s “Rip-Off Britain”, market research calls are often used as a means of gathering personal information which is then passed on to third parties.

One reason why the TPS is struggling is that unscrupulous companies are now using software to disguise the caller’s number.

Call blocking devices undoubtedly help, but unfortunately they require Caller ID – which costs extra. One possible solution would be for all companies to be required to offer Caller ID free of charge.