Living in an unwanted-call hell

My solution to cold calls: make companies pay so we can block them

Share

I like living in a flat, rather than a house, especially when it comes to nuisance calls.

When we moved in, I had one call from a gas supplier, to whom I explained that the supply is dealt with by the building management and that none of the residents has any control over it. They never called again, which explains why I have the time to read improving books, unlike the poor saps who are on the telephone pester-lists.

I feel especially lucky now I know that British Gas alone makes marketing calls to as many as 4.1 million homes a year. In a survey carried out in 20,000 homes, British Gas was found to have made 7,000 calls to just 900 homes last year. That’s more than seven per number. I cannot pretend that I would be polite to all of those callers. And that’s what I hate most about nuisance calls: they disturb you from thinking high-minded thoughts or bellowing the answers at quiz shows or whatever, and then you are the mean one when you yell that you don’t need new windows because you have a set already which came with the house.

I slightly prefer the robot-voiced woman who is convinced that I have been mis-sold payment protection insurance. Obviously, it would save my time and their money if she wasn’t a robot, because then I could tell her that I have not, in fact, been mis-sold any insurance and have never knowingly protected a payment in my life, although I like the gangsterish implications. But at least robot lady doesn’t make me feel guilty for swearing at her.

The problem with nuisance calls is that they are a blunt instrument. Companies ring all of us (even those of us who have registered with the Telephone Preference Service, though this reduces unwanted calls by a huge margin, in my experience) and they prey on the weak: those too polite to tell them to bugger off.

It’s a rare day when I agree with a Lib Dem MP, but Mike Crockart, who is setting up an all-party committee to consider nuisance calls, is bang on the money when he points out that for some people, the phone is their only contact with the outside world. Answering the phone to a constant barrage of aggressive cold-callers and those creepy silent calls provokes the already isolated to stop answering the phone altogether.

Ofcom has been feeble on the issue of nuisance calls. So I propose a solution. Any company that can afford to hire cold-callers can afford to pay into a fund which would provide call-blocking tech to anyone who gets more than, say, five unwanted calls a year. Blocked numbers would simply receive a permanent engaged tone when calling us. Nuisance gone.

Herr Kohl meets Brothers Grimm

Wicked stepmothers have existed for as long as we’ve had fairy tales. But even the Brothers Grimm might be surprised to see how the issue is transfixing Germany today. Helmut Kohl, the 82-year-old former chancellor, married a much younger woman, Maike Richter after his first wife died. 

Now his sons are dishing the dirt on the stepmother who they believe keeps their father virtually imprisoned. Peter Kohl, the younger son, told a chat show that he hasn’t seen his father since May 2011, and that he had read about his father’s wedding in a tabloid.

The weird fairytale element is only emphasised by the information that the chancellor’s second wife has apparently appeared in public wearing his dead first wife’s clothes, which really crosses the line between ghoulish and thrifty. Mirror, mirror on the wall, who is the oddest of them all?

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Tradewind Recruitment: Phase Co-ordinator for Foundation and Key Stage 1

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: Phase Co-ordinator for Foundation and Key S...

Tradewind Recruitment: SEN Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: SEN Teacher We have a fantastic special n...

Tradewind Recruitment: History Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: My client is an 11-18 all ability co-educat...

Tradewind Recruitment: Year 6 Teacher

£100 - £150 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: Year 6 Teacher Birmingham Jan 2015...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

If I were Prime Minister: Every privatised corner of the NHS would be taken back into public ownership

Philip Pullman
 

Errors & Omissions: Magna Carta, sexing bishops and ministerial aides

John Rentoul
Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee