Cold callers could finally be facing harsher punishments as the law is set to change

IF I hadn’t been driving this morning, I would’ve gone in for a serious air punch when I heard the news that the government are planning to ‘clampdown’ (one of the words that you only ever see in the media, like probe) on cold call companies.

Cold callers are one of my most hated things on the face of the Earth, nestled somewhere in between coriander and Brian Moore. Since I started working from home in October, I have been unfortunate enough to be on the end of more than my fair share of spammy sales calls. Because I live in the middle of nowhere and have no mobile phone signal, we have to have a house phone, and I’ve considered throwing it full force at the wall on more than one occasion when one of these idiots decides they want to waste my time by calling me.

According to this article on the BBC, the government are going to make it easier to impose fines on these companies under changes to the law that are being made. Currently, firms can only be punished if it can be proved that their call caused “substantial damage or substantial distress”, but from the April 6 they could face penalties of up to £500,000 for nuisance calls and text messages.

I am all for these changes, and frankly they should be being fined even more. The calls I have had range from inform me I could save money on my energy bills by getting new windows put in (sure, maybe I could, but I’m not going to get you to do it) to someone who wants to talk to me about my PC.

Instead of shouting down at the phone at them, I like to channel my rage into being politely irritating, so when they call me about my PC, I take the time to ask them how they know I have a PC. I then politely inform them I use a Mac, so their call isn’t relevant to me. This doesn’t deter them though, as they then ask me if I can open up Windows on my computer. It goes on for a while, until I get bored of wasting my time, when I finally ask them why they’re cold calling me. This usually leads to them hanging up on me, but it’s a fun way to pass 10 minutes if it’s raining outside and I haven’t got anything better to do.

The main issue I have with these companies isn’t just that their calls are annoying. Sure it’s a pain in the arse for me to have to get out of my working groove to answer the phone and find out it’s just someone trying to sell me something, but it’s far less of an issue than it could be for other people.

If I was someone waiting for a call about a relative in hospital, and I picked up the phone to find out it was a woman trying to get me to agree to more insulation around my windows, I would be catatonic with rage. Presumably that’s the kind of scenario they’re talking about when they refer to “substantial damage or substantial distress”.

If I were a person of a generation where computers and the internet weren’t second nature to me (my granny, for example) and someone rang me up about a virus on my computer, I might be inclined to believe them because, well, computers are scary and having a virus might well be the worst thing that could happen.

So how are these cold calls going to be policed? Presumably you’re still going to have to complain about them before anything is done about it, but hopefully they will start punishing all cold calling companies, and it doesn’t take someone being caused substantial distress for something to be done about it.

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Iona St Joseph

Written by Iona St Joseph

PR exec who likes finding funnies and cool stuff online. Print journalism graduate.

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