Julie Rosenfield

My journal

BT, DON’T PHONE HOME!

It always used to happen at 7.45 on a Monday or Wednesday night. In fact, I could set my watch by it.

Right in the middle of Coronation Street, the phone would ring, and it would be someone on the other end trying to sell me insurance or double-glazing.

So, I stopped watching Corrie. But it made no difference.

These days, though, the calls have become more sinister.

“Yes madam, it’s about your accident ….”

“Accident?”

“Yes, your accident. You or a family member had an accident …”

Once I got over the shock, and thanked my lucky stars there had been no accident, it dawned on me that here was yet another pesky salesman interrupting my precious time at home.

“No Win, No Fee, Madam”.

But it’s not just legal claims salespeople who are beating an unwanted path to my phone.

It’s all manner of options: mis-sold PPIs, solar panels, loans…

The calls run to a similar format. All are clearly being read from a script and the person at the other end is obviously under strict instruction not to deviate from this script no matter what.

“Madam, it’s about your computer ….”

“I don’t have a computer…”

“Yes, your computer, madam. We have detected a virus ….”

“I don’t have a computer ….”

“Your computer, madam. Go and switch it on and I’ll talk you through the steps you need to take. It’s a very serious virus.”

“But I don’t have a computer…”

In desperation, I registered with the Telephone Preference Service, an august body which promises, if you join it, that you will not be troubled by cold callers.

Alas, I found to my dismay, that its powers do not advance beyond UK shores, and a clever loophole means that overseas salespeople can still bother you at home to their heart’s content.

Last week, though, a salesman from the UK, did call. Offering BT Fibre Optics.

Now this time, I was ahead of the game, as I’d already arranged to have this service put in..

“Ah, that’s ok,,” I assured him, “We already have someone coming from BT to install fibre optics next Friday…”

“Ah, but I can offer a better deal than him….”

“No, that’s ok, it’s all settled. Someone is already coming from BT ….”

“But don’t you want to save money?”

“Yes, but for the third time, we are already having someone coming round and …”

And so it went on. As I repeated myself for the fourth and the fifth time…..

Apparently, you’re more at risk of these persistent, unwanted calls if:

a)      You’re in the phone book. Their “database” in most cases is nothing more than the local telephone directory. And as much as you ask not to be on the database, all they do is pass your number on to one of their colleagues to bother you another time.

b)       You’ve ever taken part in a telephone survey. Which I have on occasion just to be helpful, thinking I was taking part in some genuine market research. Then it appears they’ve got you. “Yes, madam, you recently took part in a survey ….”

c)       You have the cheek to answer the phone in the first place when they ring. Yes, apparently just by picking up the phone, you have alerted them that there is a real person at the other end, and your number is then sold on to other annoying organisations. What were you thinking of? Answering your own phone in your own home like that? Honestly!

It turns out that I’m not the only one troubled by these calls. My 95 year old stepmother has also been having the same problem, on a daily, unwanted basis.

And, as she says, “What if an old person gets one of these calls? Rushes to answer the call and has an accident on the way?”

Accident, you say? Ah well, that’s easy, “No win, no fee….”

Now, where’s the number of my local MP again? Think I might give her a ring.

But perhaps not in the middle of Coronation Street. After all, everyone deserves a break!

Telephone Preference Service http://www.tpsonline.org.uk/tps/index.html

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