/ Technology

A phone call to action – no more nuisance sales calls

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The Nigerian email scam (‘I need to transfer money to a UK bank account, just give me some first’) has been superseded by phishing emails (‘I need to check your bank security details’).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

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We are a member of the TPS but this doesn’t stop organisations getting around it by claiming that you have “Shown an interest” in a survey. A week or so ago I received a call from someone claiming to be from a market research company and asking me to confirm a few details. He thought my name was “Gue” and I did not correct him. I explained to him that we were members of the TPS and that we did not appreciate being cold called. He said it was just a survey and if I wasn’t interested in any of the products, services or charities they represented, my name would be removed and not passed on. Clearly this did not happen because this morning (16/12/2015), I have already received calls from two UK organisations for Mr Gue. The first was from “We Fight Any Claim” trying to help me claim compensation for mis-sold PPI, and the second was from Diabetes UK. I asked both of them where they got my details from and they both said that I must have expressed an interest by ticking a box on a form or from a survey. I have asked both of them to remove my details from their databases, but I am sure this will not be the last nuisance call I get. You do wonder why so-called reputable companies and even charities are obtaining their contact databases from such dodgy sources.

Unable to connect to the TPS today . I am subscribed to TPS and want to report a telephone scam.
On 23rd March at 17.10 and today 24th at 13.06 I have answered a call purporting to be from HMRC saying they have been trying to get in touch with me and threatening legal procedings. I am supposed to press 1 to resolve the matter. The telephone number on ringing 1471 on both occasions is 01618509420.
While I am most able to deal with this annoyance others in the household and many other vulnerable people would be conned into pressing 1 with resulting grief.
Can Which help as TPS is useless.

I have just looked up the phone number and one person reports that ‘HMRC’ said they could pay with iTunes vouchers!!!

You are right, people will get conned by them.

The TPS doesn’t deal with recorded messages; you’ll need to contact the ICO.

This comment was removed at the request of the user

This comment was removed at the request of the user