There are some types of unsolicited telephone call, typically described collectively as cold calling, which may prove to be a serious nuisance for some businesses and individuals.
If you have never experienced these calls, you may be relatively fortunate.
A Parliamentary Report issued in August 2011 reported that in 2009, OFCOM received around 6,600 complaints about silent and abandoned calls* – both examples of this genre of cold calling. OFCOM also estimated that over 22% of the UK population experienced silent calls on their landline in the period February-August 2011.
If these are an occasional occurrence, you may be able to shrug them off as a relatively infrequent irritation, however, in some situations they may become a more noticeable nuisance and even, at times, potentially distressing and disruptive.
What are they?
Advertisers have always sought to find new ways of bringing their products and services to our attention.
There may be nothing fundamentally wrong with yet there are some fundamental principles of human psychology that some advertisers may overlook.
Those relate to the fact that many people may have no major objection to impersonal passive advertising such as in the newspapers or on the TV. However, they may feel uncomfortable and the victim of unwanted intrusion, if approached on the street by salespeople or through door-to-door sales techniques.
Some people believe that cold calling is the telephone system equivalent of those intrusive sales techniques.
In practice, cold calling may include:
- unsolicited sales telephone calls to your business or private numbers;
- silent calls / abandoned calls – having answered a call, you are then automatically disconnected or you hear nothing at the other end (these may typically be associated with automated dialling systems used by some sales organisations);
- automated dialling calls – aimed at fax machines, resulting in the transmission of unwanted sales materials etc.
What are the effects?
Such calls may prove to be a serious annoyance as a matter of principle or they may also cause disruption to your time management. In some cases, they may tie up your telephone or fax lines at critical times.
To some extent, the net effect will depend on both your tolerance levels and the frequency/duration of such calls.
The link to a UK Parliament paper below provides an excellent overview or the options available to you in some detail.
As a first step, you may wish to register (free of charge) with the TPS (Telephone Preference Service).
By law, organisations making telephone marketing calls, must check with the TPS before dialling a number in order to see whether or not the owner of the number has registered that they do not wish to be called for sales purposes.
If your number is so listed on the TPS, it should stop a significant percentage of the calls reaching you (estimated at 85%*).
A second sound idea may be to ensure that your personal or business telephone system is equipped to display the calling number in order to enable you to choose whether or not to answer it.
Under current legislation* automated calling systems must display a number capable of accepting a return call, though this may be difficult to enforce in the case of calls originating from outside the UK.
Thirdly, if a problem appears to be persistent and you are able to identify the source, you may be able to make a complaint to the Information Commissioners Office*.
Finally, remember that your telephone services provider may be able to facilitate the tracking of persistent nuisance calls in order to trace, block and possibly pursue further action against the perpetrators.
UK Parliament – www.parliament.uk/briefing-papers/SN06033.pdf