Irony is lost on cold callers

I’ve just spent 6 minutes on the phone arguing about irony!

The first couple of minutes to the initial telesales contact, the rest to her manager who was quibbling pedantically and accusing me of being hostile. It goes like this:

Them: Can I speak to …

Me: What’s it concerning?

Them: Removing you from nuisance call lists.

Me: Then talk to me, the phone’s in my name.

Them: We see you are on a lot of lists and are offering a service to remove you.

Unsure about this Smiley toon is quite unsure what to make of this.

What the? Please explain yourself! Smiley toon tries to get it.

Well this is frustrating Smiley toon keeps trying anyway, he know’s they’ll get it, eventually.

Well this is vexing Smiley toon’s patience reaches and passes its limits.

Them (manager): What don’t you understand, Sir?

Me: You presumably have a mortgage to pay, your sales girl obviously will have bills to pay, food to buy. You clearly are not part of BT offering me a free service, so how does this work?

Them (manager): Well there’s just a debit charge, you give us your card details…

Me: Do you not see the irony here? You are cold calling us, offering to remove us from a lists like the one you’ve bought with the intention of ringing people, then you skirt around asking me for money to prevent people – like you – calling me again. Whereupon, presumably, my status on said list is upgraded to SUCKER and sold on to the next company to call me and I get even more annoying calls.

Them (manager): Fine, you must enjoy nuisance callers. We’ll remove you from our list and not call you again. CLUNK!

I did 1471 and the number was 0845 2411525, which I duly Googled and found rafts of sites mentioning the company, some equally amused (and irritated) by the irony of the call, others going into details about the company behind it, listing directors and claims they were involved in other scams. I neither know nor care whether they was true, nor am I going to waste time on such matters, but it’s a useful observation. If it sounds dodgy, then it’s in your own interest to be cautious. I did however look at their website and rather that simply wanting ‘a’ payment, as they claimed, they wanted a subscription. That said, the ‘subscription’ is a one-off payment of £45 for the first year. Hmmm.

It’s worth pointing out that within half an hour of this I received a couple of other unsolicited tele-marketing calls originating in the Bournemouth area. Coincidence?

It gets better though! On THEIR web site they proudly inform you: (my bold):

TPS is a government based service with over 70% households are registered with. Registration is free of charge and can be done online. This should be the first port of call you try when attempting to prevent unwanted sales calls being made to your telephone number. Telemarketers are not lawfully permitted to make unsolicited sales calls to any numbers that are registered on to the Telephone Preference Service central opt out register. This includes charities and political parties. Unfortunately, there seem’s to be a rise of telemarketing companies ignoring these rules & not cross referencing data-bases so customer’s may still experience a high level of nuisance cold calls. Here at Stop These Calls, we aim to give you a greater control of your privacy by eliminating these calls directly from the source.

Does a telesales company cold calling and asking for money to end cold calls sound like a scam to you? It does to me!

As I AM registered with the TPS and THEY DID make an unsolicited call to me, does that amount to an admission by them that they are knowingly breaking the law? A salient point, eh. The observant may notice a numbers of errors in the blockquote above (e.g: "seem’s to be" "so customer’s may"). Hardly inspires confidence, but given I think they are confidence tricksters…

Here’s what one commenter wrote on Bad Numbers: A UK Reverse Telephone Lookup Built By You
"This company is preying on the old and vulnerable. They have just phoned my mum who gets very distressed about cold calling anyway. They are now taking the money from her when she can’t afford it and refusing cancel the policy on my instructions."

Another, on CAllerRR, warned:
"Received call regarding paying £5 for a service which I get for free from BT i.e. TPS – Naz (sales person) offered me the service for £2.50. She then quoted me last 4 figure digits of my debit card. When I told her the number was wrong she then asked me for the long number on my card – I refused point-blank to give her any details she became quite indignant. Obvious scam."
(Note how he claims they had the last numbers from his card as information.)

Another, on Narkive, looking into the company, observed:
"Nature of Business (SIC):
95210 – Repair of consumer electronics Hmmmmm!!!"
Not up on corporate law but if so I suspect Companies House might have questions if their Articles of Association and Memorandum of Association wholly neglect their telemarketing activities.

My sister has done a similar job, as has my cousin and another friend. I was even obliquely involved with a few such companies in the 90’s so I understand the industry a bit, the money involved and I’m not without sympathy for the poor sods doing the initial calling. I understand they are just doing their job, but I do tend to get a bit abrupt at times, especially if they are overseas based and cannot pronounce my name!

I already have a phone that offers call control and blocking* and am registered with the toothless wonder of the TPS (Telephone Preference Service)

*(International, Number withheld, no Caller ID and payphones and by individual blocking).

It is equally worth pointing out, quoting directly from the TPS website’s FAQ, that:
"Who pays for TPS?
No money is received from the Government to run the Service, the direct marketing industry pays for it."

It’s – possibly – better than nothing but at the same time there is once more the irony that the cold callers and direct marketers are funding a service to supposedly stop them making money. Okayyy! Yes, I accept it’s not that clear cut and in reality they want to clean up the market – but ultimately they want to remove the rogues so they themselves can clean up. If you see my point.
(If you are not familiar with the expression, ‘to clean up’, in slang, is to to make a large profit, often in a short period of time.)

Again, in fairness to the TPS and the job they do cleaning up their industry they do include on their web site a list of Bogus TPS Calls companies And yes, you guessed it, these clowns are on that list. The TPS warn:
Unregulated commercial suppression services, those making exaggerated claims and those operating fraudulently are not limited to the companies listed below.

They go on to add:

Beware of Unregulated Companies Charging For Their Service!
There are other companies that are not necessarily scams but they are not TPS. They usually claim to offer a similar or even an enhanced service to TPS.

They make exaggerated claims about the effectiveness of their service and may even suggest that TPS does not work.

Some of these companies are listed below: (It’s a long list!)

Stop These Calls

I take this view and recommend you consider it: I block as many unsolicited calls as I can. Anything that gets through is automatically considered a) definitely an unsolicited, unwanted and intrusive nuisance call and b) as such considered a scam.

See also :

OfCom: Live Marketing Calls

BT’s services to Stop unwanted calls

Particularly so if you are already registered with the TPS as not wanting to receive such unsolicited contact such as this, you can report them to the TPS,

You can also report companies like this to the Information Commissioner’s Office and, if enough people complain, they will take action. This can result in large fines for them.

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