Bitterwallet's How To... tackle international nuisance calls

1 November 2010

Bitterwallet - switchboard operatorsNuisance calls are a right pain in the earhole, aren’t they? Us long-suffering Brits receive more than 1.5 billion of them every year. That’s around 75 nuisance calls per household. We’re all much too busy with our crushingly demanding lives to be bothering with some marketing drone wanting to know whether we need loft insulation or own a conservatory.

You can stop a good number of nuisance calls by signing up to the Telephone Preference Service (TPS). It’s an offence for UK companies to make unsolicited sales and marketing calls to TPS-registered numbers. Trouble is, TPS registration doesn’t stop unsolicited calls made from abroad.

I’m registered with the TPS, but nearly all the nuisance calls I get come from international numbers. And UK legislation doesn’t apply to them. Unless, that is, the calls can be proven to have been made on behalf of a UK company.

One international caller that habitually rings me identifies itself as LRC or Lifestyle Research Centre. The number they call from is 002135371000, which suggests they’re based in Algeria. A quick Google search reveals that this number has been plaguing hundreds of other UK householders.

They’re not a very friendly bunch, LRC, and anything other than full co-operation can reveal an impressive mastery of some of the more colourful aspects of the English language. Of course I refuse to give up any information to them, but I do try to politely play along, with the aim of working out who the devil they’re working for.

At first they offered up generic fake names such as “Sky Dish” or “UK Gas”. Then, eventually, LRC callers began to give up the name Thomas Sanderson. Turns out that’s a UK-based company that sells conservatory shutters and blinds. So it would be useful for them to find out, for example, whether or not I own a bloody conservatory.

Of course, the caller could have plucked the company’s name from the web, or from thin air. This could all just be a big ruddy coincidence. As could the scores of complaints about Thomas Sanderson and nuisance calls that can be found on the web.

I contacted Thomas Sanderson several times for this article, asking the company to clarify whether or not Lifestyle Research Centre was acting on its behalf. No response.

Then Thomas Sanderson rang me, from their UK-based call centre – not to answer my query, but of course to sell me some blinds. When asked why they were making an unsolicited marketing call to a TPS-registered number, the caller claimed (incorrectly) I’d completed a survey conducted by Lifestyle Research Centre - thereby confirming that LRC is working on behalf of Thomas Sanderson.

Both the TPS and the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), who are responsible for enforcing the Privacy and Electronic Communications (EC Directive) Regulations 2003, were quick to confirm to Bitterwallet that nuisance call rules apply to any organisation in the UK, regardless of where the calls are actually being made from.

“The Regulations apply to the instigator (generally the company whose products or services are being promoted) and to the transmitter of calls (person actually making them), so if there is a UK presence responsible for some part of the process the Regulations will usually apply,” the ICO told us.

As Bitterwallet reported last month, companies responsible for nuisance calls can now be fined up to £2 million. So if you’re being plagued by nuisance calls from abroad, the best advice is to try to identify the UK company that the calls are being made on behalf of. You’ll then be in a position to make a complaint – to the company, and then via the TPS. There’s a chance that’ll stop the calls. Just don’t come whingeing to us that no one ever rings you anymore.

TOPICS:   Scams


  • disgruntled N.
    looks like they're already known to the advertising peeps, too:
  • lou
    I like to have a bit of fun with these people, i interupt their script by just asking them random questions, they are usually a bit surprised, i just keep it uptill they get sick of me and put the phone down. I also tell them porkies...such as, i cant have a water dispenser, im allergic to water I am not allowed to answer the mam will get mad, whats your name, how old are you, are you old?, i like worms do you? do you have worms? You should have asked if they could fit a conservatory on your caravan The trick is to annoy them so much they do not want to talk to you
  • Mark M.
    I often make up stories too. It is quite good fun
  • Me
    Paul Brown?
  • Adebisi
    I pretend I am masturbating
  • George A.
    I like receiving calls. I don't get out much so it's an opportunity for me to speak to someone.
  • Theo C.
    Paul - given that your article (correctly in my experience) states that any attempt to question the people making these calls usually does not go well, do you have any recommendations for how we can try to extract useful information about the company making the call and who they are working on behalf of? Usually when I ask the caller to identify their employer or who they are working for, the best I get is the call being immediately dropped, the worst is more like your experience. Neither of which gives me any useful info and I find my caller ID doesn't work for them, most of the time. What you're saying is useful, but top tips on how we can get the info would be helpful.
  • Nobby
    > I pretend I am masturbating Why pretend?
  • David
    It's a good idea to ask them to hold the line, then just leave it off the hook until they have gone away.
  • Nobby
    Or say "I'm not interested in (insert product), but I was talking to my mum earlier and she is after buying one. Do you want her number? It is (make up number)."
  • Paul
    Theo - Persevere is my advice. Most of the time even a polite enquiry as to who they are calling on behalf of will result in a hang up or abusive response, but when they're calling twice a day, as in my case, you can eventually get some sort of info from them.
  • dearieme
    whether the caller be male or female,I have the same standard line that makes them hang up immediately-just say,in a slightly sinister tone "what colour of panties are you wearing?"-100 percent immediate hang up!
  • evil r.
    make fax noises
  • wobinb
    or fox noises
  • Paul C.
    I used to be a tel-can manager for a very large window firm (in fact = 95% of sales were made from telephone canvassing, which I thought was rather shocking given the premises in the centre of town with a small but functional showroom). Remember, whatever you do to some canvassers - ie hang-up, hurl and insult or rant down the phone - they have your number and have ways of getting you back.... We only ever went after the really rude and (worringly) insulting people, resulting in revenge through multiple taxis, pizzas and even a male stripper once. How we laughed.
  • Whisky
    @ Paul Coia You're a Cunt.
  • The B.
    "can now be fined up to £2 million" Hmmm, what are the chances? MPS/TPS do actually fine people, the ICO however, well, let's just say you could video yourself selling the data illegally, making nuisance calls with it and then murdering the people on the list and they'd still think there wasn't enough evidence to prosecute.
  • Paul C.
    Cheers Whisky. Bottoms up ;)
  • blagga
    My trick is that I go through the whole thing and then when they get here, look totally dumbfounded that they can't attach a conservatory to a 3rd floor flat.
  • Nobby
    > We only ever went after the really rude and (worringly) insulting people, resulting in revenge through multiple taxis, pizzas and even a male stripper once. How we laughed. Wouldn't work now though. Our local taxi firm does not send taxis if you withhold your number.
  • Whisky
    @ Paul Coia :)
  • Stuff m.
    [...] How to tackle international nuisance calls The price of truth in the case against TripAdvisor Does your favourite airline charge a sky-high seating fee? Sky: Ten million subscribers, how many pricing combinations? As music goes missing, Spotify and Polydor blame each other Why Fitness First are putting their customers second [...]
  • Jo F.
    I ask them to hold on while I get the householder. I then place the phone next to the radio and pop back every now and then saying 'please do hold on - your call is important to us'. Most hang up after the first announcement but some endure for minutes!
  • James
    Used to work with their marketing department. LRC is paid by thomas sanderson for each lead they give them. They also pay a lot of other companies under similar deals. Basically you pay £5000 for blinds in a conservatory. The blinds cost £1000, the other £4000 goes on marketing and sales commissions.
  • Stuff c.
    [...] Read the full post at Bitterwallet. [...]
  • Marketing H.
    Nobby is such a prat. What is it with people like him that make nuisance calls to anyone without really knowing who they are. One way I've tried in the past is geta very loud whistle and blow it down the phone especially when they hurl abuse at you works every time
  • sheila c.
    We too, although registered with the TPS get a massive number of UNWANTED calls if INTERNATIONAL OR WITHHELD come up in our caller identify screen we pick up the receiver and blow very loudly on a referee whistle that we keep near the phone for just this purpose. If the callers don't like being blasted and deafened by us then the answer is simple TAKE US OFF YOUR DATA BASE!!!!!!!!!!!Don't you get the message that WE DID NOT ASK YOU TO RING US, WE DO NOT WANT YOU TO RING US AND WE ARE SICK TO DEATH OF YOUR CALLS. We had an International call 3 nights ago at 9.45pm, these people are SICK, so enough is enough, carry on ringing us and hopefully one day not too far away you may be too deaf with the whistle that you will no longer be able to ring us.
  • deako
    I pretend to be the King brothers chinese resteraunt..."Woild you like to speak to Foo or Wan ? "
  • Nigel
    I used to get plenty of International calls and then started answering politely by saying 'Good morning/afternoon xxxx Constabulary, how can I help you' it took a while but the calls started getting less and less.
  • Bitterwallet’s B.
    [...] Read the full post at Bitterwallet. [...]

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