As you are probably aware, I’m generally an upbeat and affable sort of chap, but one of the things that I do find somewhat irritating is that scourge of modern life, the cold call. I get many cold calls, like I’m sure many others do, and being registered with the TPS – the UK’s Telephone Preference Service, which should stop cold calls – does not guarantee that you will not receive them. So, how do you say no to cold calls?
I had a call in February that was a cold call. The caller told me that I had asked to be called back when there was a special offer in my area, and there now was. This irked me somewhat as the same company had called me several times before with the same patter, and each time I had told them that I was not interested, that I was registered with the TPS, and I did not want any more calls. This time, though, I had decided that it was time for some more action. Once they told me the company name, I asked them for their company registration number, and after a few attempts, the agent hung up. I searched online for the company, got their number and called back. I asked as cheerily as I could if it could have been that company I was talking to about their product when I got cut off, and the person said it was. It transpired that this was the person in charge, and I explained that I did not want any more calls from them, I wanted to know from where they had got my number, and I wanted no more calls. He could not answer my questions. I also added that, if I was to receive any more calls from them, then I would charge them £10 a minute for my time. I followed that up in an email confirming the details. I did not get answers to the questions. I reported the incident to the Office of the Information Commissioner.
In May, on the Sunday of the Bank Holiday weekend, I received another cold call from the same company. When I tried to ascertain details of the company and why they were calling me in contravention not just of the TPS but from what I had explicitly asked, they hung up. I called back, and explained to the person that I was speaking to that I was recording the call. I managed to record the call by putting the landline that I was calling from on speaker and recorded it using my mobile phone’s voice recorder function. I asked him the same questions – where they had got my number, etc – but to no avail. He transferred me to the most senior person on site, with whom I had a positive and polite conversation, but without answers to any of my questions. I did remind them that I had emailed told them verbally and in email that I would charge them £10/minute for my time, and the person to whom I was speaking agreed that the company would pay any fees. I got the email address for the “person who deals with those sorts of things”, and sent him an email asking him for an address to which I could send my invoice. I did not get an answer. I also reported this to the Office of the Information Commissioner, who promptly responded that they had now written to the company about their conduct.
I waited four weeks, and then wrote to the company, telling them that I was disappointed that they had not responded to my email, nor my previous requests, and included an invoice for £80, made up of £30 for the initial call and £50 for my follow up call to get their details. I explained that my terms were thirty days, that if my invoice was not paid in thirty days that I would send a reminder, and if that was not paid promptly, I would proceed to the Small Claims Court. I also mentioned that I was aware that the Office of the Information Commissioner had written to them, and that I had reported the company to the local Trading Standards because their website did not contain their company number, in breach of the Companies Act.
Two weeks later, on 22nd June 2013, I received a letter, with an apology and explanation, and a cheque for £80. I have not had any more calls from the company, and I suspect I will not have any more.
I wasn’t the first person to take this course of action; Richard Herman (he’s here on Twitter) took similar steps, and has set up http://www.saynotocoldcalls.com which contains very helpful resources for anyone wanting to take similar steps. I found Richard’s website very useful and his templates helped me to produce the letters that I need.
I’m all for sales and marketing, and know that they are important tools in most businesses, but cold calls are a pain, and particularly so when the person receiving the call has both opted out via the TPS and has also requested that no more calls are made. I wanted to let you know about this, as I know from mentioning this to a few people today that others would like to take similar steps. If you do, then I hope this is useful, and I know that Richard’s website is particularly helpful. Good luck in ending your cold calls!