Have you ever been called out of the blue by a stranger with something to sell? Unless you’ve been exceptionally fortunate, the answer is probably a resounding yes. In fact, many of us might get calls on a daily basis.
According to research by Ofcom, just under a billion nuisance calls are made every year.
This is in spite of legal restrictions on the practice. Other research, commissioned by no-win-no-fee injury lawyers National Accident Helpline, determined that this practice is most prevalent in Yorkshire, the North East, and Wales, and that around one in five people receives a cold call every day.
In most cases, these people are pensioners.
For the most part, cold calling is an exceptionally annoying phenomenon. But in some cases, it can be a source of serious stress, and might even constitute harassment. So why does it happen, and what can we do about it?
Why are people calling me?
You might think that cold-calling would be an extremely ineffective method of marketing anything. And this is true. The chances are small that the product or service being offered will actually be needed.
The chances are even smaller than cold-calling will be the method that finally persuades the would-be customer to convert. The figure might be less than a single percentage point.
But, as we all now understand thanks to the coronavirus pandemic, a tiny proportion of a very, very big number might still be significant. Phone a thousand people in a given day, and the fraction that lead to successful conversions make the effort worthwhile.
What does the Law Say?
Certain types of cold call, like those related to PPI and personal injury claims, are proscribed by law.
If you find yourself receiving them, then you can report the perpetrator to the Information
Commissioner’s Office. Make sure you make a note of the number that called you, and the time at which the call was made.
If you’re getting dozens of them, then you can be reasonably sure that the company responsible is going to receive a hefty fine.
It’s through this process of reporting that companies can be held to account for their exceptionally annoying practices. Once the costs of this form of marketing are perceived to outweigh the benefits, if will die.
What about Screening?
Of course, if you’re reporting after the call has been placed, then you’ll need to wait for an outside body to take action.
If you want to be pro-active, then you might instead register with something
called the Telephone Preference Service. This is a free service which blocks all sales and marketing calls on your behalf.
If you, or an elderly or vulnerable relative, is receiving enormous volumes of phone calls, then this might be the way to address the problem in the short-term.