We’re all being plagued by unwanted sales calls and texts – even if we’re registered with the Telephone Preference Service. So why can’t it help those of us who are fed up with nuisance calls?
Every few years, a new wave of dubious money-making communications crashes over consumers. In the past decade or so, premium-rate phone and fax scams have receded.
The Nigerian email scam (‘I need to transfer money to a UK bank account, just give me some first’) has been superseded by phishing emails (‘I need to check your bank security details’). The letters congratulating us all on winning a Spanish lottery we never entered have mostly ebbed away. But there’s a new kid on the block – the unsolicited sales call.
This takes such forms as a call from a claims management firm offering to get you compensation for mis-sold payment protection insurance that you never bought. It’s not just calls, it’s texts as well and I’m sick of them.
Telephone Preference Service asleep on the job
Research this week by the Association of British Insurers (ABI) has found that over three-quarters of people (78%) have been contacted by a Claims Management Company (CMC) asking if they had been involved in an accident or been mis-sold payment protection insurance. In London, the figure rose to 82%.
Even more amazingly, the ABI found that 92% of those who received such a message from a CMC said it was not relevant to them. So it’s hardly surprising three in four people back a ban on unsolicited messages.
There’s supposed to be a gatekeeper you can employ for free, the Telephone Preference Service (TPS), but it’s apparently asleep on the job. And it doesn’t cover texts, which makes no sense. The TPS describes itself like this:
‘This free service gives you the opportunity to select who contacts you by telephone. Once registration is complete, telemarketers are legally bound not to call you.’
So why are they calling me and many of you who’ve registered? I think most consumers would think the words ‘by telephone’ will include any and all means of communication received on their phone – mobile or landline, text or call.
Hung up on unsolicited sales calls
A Which? colleague whose phone number has long been registered with the TPS recently complained to it about a PPI compensation call.
The call handler said there had been a big influx of such complaints (no surprise) but it could do nothing as they’re not classed as sales calls, but ‘a service’. This is laughable. The ‘service’ is paid for by a fee taken from any compensation you get. How is this different from someone offering to fit double glazing, which will also incur a fee?
For texts, the law says there must be an unsubscribe option such as ‘Reply “stop” to this number’. But this tells the sender your mobile is genuine and we all fear we’ll just get more texts from them (and it might well cost you a pretty penny to text or ring them to send the stop message).
Together with a group of nine other organisations, ranging from Citizens Advice to Privacy International, this week we have written to the Direct Marketing Association (which administers the TPS), Ofcom and the Information Commissioner to ask them to wake up and do something about this huge problem.
And we’d like your experiences so we can send them on too – are you fed up with nuisance sales calls?
How does the Telephone Preference Service work for you?
It’s rubbish - I get lots of nuisance calls (76%, 3,204 Votes)
It’s OK - I only get the odd nuisance call (15%, 615 Votes)
I’m not registered with the Telephone Preference Service (8%, 339 Votes)
It’s excellent - I don’t get any nuisance calls (1%, 35 Votes)
Total Voters: 4,196