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Misuse of the Telephone Preference Service
Using the Telephone Preference Service as if it's the company's own OPT-OUT - an excuse for not having a proper opt-out list!

Some companies who sell products by telesales claim that you have the option of opting-out of receiving any more calls from them. This sounds fair enough until you find out that the number they are quoting as the "no more calls from our company" line, is in fact the UK Telephone Preference Service. If you go on the list at the Telephone Preference Service, you will probably not receive any more calls from the nuisance company in question, but also you won't officially receive ANY commercial calls from ANY companies. That is an all-or-nothing approach, and in my opinion it is wrong. It's no excuse for a company to make a nuisance of themselves by not having a proper opt-out list, and instead expect you to opt out of calls from everyone in business including the honest companies who have never phoned you before.

To draw an analogy with the letterbox, supposing some nuisance person was guilty of putting muck through your letterbox, and you caught them doing it. That person might say "It's no problem as you can easily opt out of me putting muck through your letter box. Just BOARD UP THE LETTERBOX". I'm sure you can see the problem; It's not that you don't want to receive any mail, it's that you want to stop this person being a nuisance.

Telesales is a difficult business to be in, and if someone phones you up trying to sell you something, please try to be nice to them! It's not their fault they have got this difficult job to do, phoning people up. However, the company they work for should at least respect your choice to be removed from their phoning list. It's up to the company themselves to maintain a proper opt-out list.

The reason why the Telephone Preference Service is no substitute is because it's an all-or-nothing system. If the TPS is upgraded to allow personal preference, that would be good! Until then, it's up to the companies to respect your preferences. If not, then there are things you can do:

* A company that does not respect your preferences risks losing your respect for it. This can take the form of your choice of recommendations (or otherwise) to your friends. As we live in a modern Internet age, your "friends" can include a vast number of people, as your views can be seen around the world if you are so minded to set up your own website!

* If you sign up for BT Privacy, you can get a Caller Display device that warns you of incoming numbers before you answer the phone. You can set up your own blacklist of rogue callers and not answer the phone when they call. However, if you do that, you also need to avoid answering the phone if the number is withheld, just in case they should try that trick. Also, bear in mind that some of the worst offenders in the slash and burn telemarketing business tend to use a displayed non-receiving phone number as their Caller ID, a tactic which may suggest they are trying to deceive those who would reject "withheld" numbers. According to BT, although callers are allowed to misdirect Caller Display machines in this way, they are only allowed to display other numbers which they own. As these cost money, there is a limited number of them which any company could possibly set up, and you'll soon have them all on your blacklist of rogue callers!

* Also, supposing a company refuses to take you off the phoning list and continues to make (in effect) nuisance calls to you, this may prove financially non-beneficial to the company. You could invite the company's rep to come round to your house for a quote, and then point out that as the company has wasted your time, you are simply returning favour by wasting the company's time. After a few such call-outs, the company might decide it would be more advantageous financially to avoid phoning you anymore. Some companies are funny like that, when it's their time and money that's being wasted rather than yours!

* It would be possible to set up a public database of the worst offenders in telesales. It's like the problem of powerdiallers. Companies guilty of SLASH AND BURN MARKETING would soon find they would not be hitting their sales targets, and might consider a more reasonable approach to customers. (Customers are people with feelings, not victims to be farmed or hunted). Public databases of companies have been set up for lesser sins than this! Take a look at the stuff about 0870 expensive phone numbers to see what I mean! If a public database of bad telesales companies was to be set up, I know of several people who know of companies that they would nominate to go on it! The same names of repeat offenders seem to crop up time and time again.

* If you feel that company's salesforce is pestering you and using the "Well you should sign up for the Telephone Preference Service if you want us to stop" excuse, you can report the company for nuisance calls. These days misuse of the phone system to cause annoyance is considered a crime. Phone hoaxers can get a warning from the police, and that usually puts an end to the bad habit.

With this type of problem it's important to stick to your principles and not be intimidated by the bullies who are hoping to scare you. Quentin Crisp refused to go on the ex-directory list, despite the problems of homophobic phone hoaxers in those early times before society grew up to be more tolerant. So, you should not be intimidated into going on the TPS list just because a small minority of sales companies can't manage their phone lists properly!

Other useful references: Phone , How to Complain , Splat Advertising , Powerdiallers , Good and Bad Practices in Telesales , and SPAM

Special note: Even if you feel that a particular company in a particular line of business is as guilty as hell of bad marketing or aggressive selling, you should still be nice to the people phoning you! It's not their fault. They only work for the company. This is also a maxim on the page of How to Complain