COLD calling is an annoying practice. There you are, sitting down to your tea and the phone goes and someone wants to talk about insurance for your Sky box even though you haven’t got one.
The calls can be about anything – double glazing, reclaiming miss-sold payment protection, that accident you never had – but usually the bottom line is they want you to buy something, even when they say: “I’m not selling anything.”
Oh yes they are!
Cold calls are time-consuming and can send you mad, particularly when the phone goes at an inappropriate moment. Just as you’ve got the baby to sleep or the match kicks off.
To stop them you can register with the Telephone Preference Service, as I mentioned the other week. Unfortunately, this only stops calls coming from within this country. It does not stop those from international call centres that can be located anywhere from Malmo to Mumbai, manned by callers with foreign accents, even though they claim to be called Henry or Mavis.
Old chum Mike Shaw gets two or three of these calls a week and has his own way of dealing with them when they ask, in broken English, to speak to Mr Shaw.
“Hang on, I’ll get him,” he says – and then leaves the phone for five minutes.
Then: “He’ll be here in a minute,” before leaving it again.
Another five minutes and: “He won’t be long now,” by which time the chap on the other end has usually taken the hint and hung up.
Mike says: “I’ve heard of one bloke who sings down the line if he gets a cold caller. Another chap starts talking to them in a language he’s made up.”
But the caller who took the biscuit rang last week when Mike’s wife, Shirley, answered.
“I’m calling about your computer,” he said, in broken English.
“We haven’t got a computer,” said Shirley.
“Well, it’s about your laptop.”
“We haven’t got a laptop,” said Shirley.
“Oh,” said the exasperated caller. “Then you are just wasting my time.”
Touche, old chap.