Finding out the extent of the UK’s nuisance call problem
Everyone will have a story about a nuisance call. Whether it’s a pushy sales call at dinner time or a market researcher ringing as you’re about to go out, these calls are at best annoying and at worst the cause of anxiety and upset. Such is the problem that the Telecoms operator Ofcom has carried out a research project to find out just how many such calls are being made, their effects and who is making them.
The results make interesting reading.
More than 1,000 people kept paper diaries for a four week period during 2013 to record the unwanted calls they received to their home landlines. They had to document the number of calls and record the type of call received whether a silent call, where there is no one on the other end, an abandoned call where the caller has given up and left a message, a recorded sales call or a call by a sales or marketing executive or another individual.
In that four week period 82% took a nuisance call. Half of those were silent calls, 17% an abandoned call and only three out of five had a real person at the other end of the line. The average number of calls amounted to eight over the four week period or two a week. A quarter of those surveyed reported taking more than 10 during this time.
The single biggest reason for the call concerned payment protection insurance or PPI claims. Some 10% came from energy companies, another 10% were market research and 8% insurance. Other frequent callers include charities and companies offering pension rebates Most of the abandoned calls or recorded messages were from PPI claims companies.
The research by Ofcom also looked into the effects of such calls. More than 86% of those taking part in the survey considered the calls to be irritating, particularly sales calls. The most annoying category of calls was silent calls, not surprising if someone has rushed to the phone only to find no one on the other end. Interestingly those over 65 were less likely to brand the calls annoying.
Cause of distress
Silent and abandoned calls caused the most anxiety especially for those at home during the day such as parents looking after young children, unemployed people and older people. Those in paid work were less likely to find them distressing. The time of day also affected anxiety levels. Calls before 9am or after 8pm caused the most distress.
Clearly there is a problem but help is at hand. Ofcom has a well tried and tested complaints procedure and there are a number of services available to cut the number of calls and to screen them so that people can opt not to answer their phone. They include call blocking devices offered by http://www.grouputilities.com and the Telephone Preference Service.
People of whatever age should not have to put up with such calls or suffer the irritation or distress they can cause. The law is changing and those companies which do flout the regulations could easily find themselves in court as long as the public reports them.
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