I’ve noted previously that one major disadvantage of working partly from home is that I’m at home when more of the nuisance phone calls arrive.
Most are just downright annoying – why anyone would believe that I’m likely to say ‘yes’ the tenth time they call when they were told otherwise on several previous occasions (by the ninth time in rather robust terms as well) is beyond me. Proving their own incompetence, inefficiency, and willingness to ignore both the TPS rules and a clear message from potential customers doesn’t look like the best of advertisements for their services or reliability. And telling me (as one did recently) that they’ve deliberately put their call centre in Dublin to circumvent TPS rules doesn’t do a lot for their credibility either.
Some provide a degree of amusement, particularly if I’m bored with whatever I’m working on and looking for a break. I’m afraid that I do have a tendency to play along with, and then wind up, the Asian callers from the “Windows Technical Centre”. I know I really shouldn’t: but then ‘Dave’, ‘Brad’, and the rest of the improbably-named callers shouldn’t be trying to con people out of their money either. I regard it as a minor achievement when they resort to effing and blinding whilst I calmly respond; for some strange reason, they don’t seem to appreciate my sense of humour.
But what for me is a minor irritation or amusing diversion, depending on my mood at the time, is a real nuisance for many. And far too many vulnerable people are taken in – or even bullied – by these callers, and at best end up paying over the odds for services that they could get cheaper by shopping around, or at worst by having substantial sums fraudulently taken from their bank accounts.
So the announcement that the government is going to take action to clamp down on one particular type of nuisance call – those trying to persuade people to reinvest their pension pots – is something that I welcome in principle. I wonder, though, why this particular sector is being targeted. It surely can’t be that people with transferable pension pots are more likely to be Conservative voters – could it really be that cynical?
And even then there’s a lot of (missing) devils in the detail – it has been clearly stated that international callers will be excluded, despite the fact that anyone who’s being plagued by these calls will immediately identify that the worst ones come from international numbers (followed by ‘unavailable’ and then ‘withheld’). And how are they going to identify the perpetrators? My own experience of receiving at least half a dozen nuisance calls per week is that they never give the name or address of the company doing the calling, and invariably hang up when politely asked for such, apparently irrelevant, details.
But how difficult can it be in this day and age, if the will were there, to use technology to identify and prosecute the perpetrators? Some might well be out of direct range of UK law – they don’t use Indian call centres for nothing. But some of those call centres wouldn’t still be in business if there weren’t unscrupulous companies in the UK (‘entrepreneurs’, no doubt) prepared to pay them for ‘leads’ to circumvent the TPS rules. And even where they are beyond the reach of UK law, surely it’s technically possible in this day and age to identify where they are from and simply bar all calls from those people to the UK?
I suspect that part of the reason for the inaction – and the continued suffering of the vulnerable – is the vested interest of the telecoms providers. Presumably, telecoms companies are making money on each and every one of these nuisance calls; so why would they want to stop them? I’m sure it’s no coincidence that I’ve been receiving more or less weekly marketing e-mails from one telecoms provider trying to sell me call-blocking equipment. Those making money from the calls would, it seems, prefer to make more money from selling me equipment to stop them than simply take action themselves.There can surely be few elected politicians who are not aware of people in their own areas who have suffered from this plague, though. So why the apparent reluctance to introduce tougher legislation and control?