Being a house owner, my experience of nuisance phone calls grows by the hour. In fact, the only reason I am not exposed to them more often is that I spend large chunks of my days Sellotaped to a desk here on the 342nd floor of the Independent mega-tower (corporate boast: "Our shadow is bigger than your shadow").
As a result, my wife has to field most of the calls, and this constant stream of metaphorical effluent is really beginning to get her down. Bear in mind, this is a woman who deals with a constant stream of actual effluent from our infant son, so she is not really to be messed with – especially if you catch her in that danger period between 5pm and 8pm, before she's had a chance to settle down with a few scraps of leftover dinner and watch something other than sodding BabyTV.
Chances are, she's already been tending to our little wriggling spud since 6am, as attentively as any ancient Egyptian princeling could rightfully expect. Little Ptolemy has thus been waited on conscientiously for hours, and the last thing my wife needs is for the house phone to ring, because she knows who is going to be on the other end of the line: some Dilbert trying to get her to sign away her half the house in exchange for a kick-ass kitchen with a built-in banana-yellower.
Sadly, it's often frustratingly hard to express any actual anger at these people, as it is either A) a robot voice doing the talking on the phone, or B), more often than not, the person calling is merely a non-contracted freelance representative of some nebulous, dodgy little concern based in an industrial estate – a place that, funnily enough, doesn't accept incoming calls.
Well, thanks to the diligence of our splendid authorities, namely the Information Commissioner's Office (which sounds like something out of Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy), we now have a name to put to the nasal, cajoling bleating on the line.
And, believe it or not, the tale gets sweeter. It seems the company in question, Point One Marketing, which trades as something called Stop the Calls, was set up to act as a barrier between us and the nuisance calls – but was only doing that very same thing itself. (Images of gamekeepers blasting grouse out of the sky using Uzi machine guns come to mind.) Its operatives were said to have acted towards the public in a "bullying and aggressive way". They would actually shout at the people they were calling if they refused to listen to the sales pitch. One lady suffering from dementia was even persuaded to hand over her credit card details. And that ain't right.
So, good for you, Information Commissioner's Office. Well done for fining Stop the Calls £50,000. It could have been more, I suppose, but you can't have everything. I would call and congratulate you but I don't want to be a nuisance …