'Desperate or devious? The nuisance callers who are the bane of my life'

An office worker on the phone
-Credit: (Image: PA)


It’s spring, the season for blossoming hedgerows, ripening fields of blindingly-yellow rapeseed, an uptick in hay fever symptoms from tree and grass pollen - and a rash of nuisance phone calls.

It seems to have been reasonably quiet through the winter months but all of a sudden our landline is being bombarded by unsolicited calls. Some made by machine, some made by human, they are alerting us to everything from questionable Amazon transactions to the fact our home has been identified as lacking in the required standard of loft insulation... and they are the bane of my life.

I’ve got used to hanging up on the recorded messages about unusual activity on my bank card along with the calls that are just silent. But you can have a bit of fun with the people who rogue-call you, if you have the time and the inclination.

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I have a friend who reckons on being the cleaner and that she “can’t possibly answer for the householders in their absence”, nor can she spare precious minutes of her time when she should be dusting. They apologise and hang up. Job done.

I did try the same tactic once, when I could be bothered. It worked a treat; they didn’t want to spend wasted effort on getting the hired help to sign up for whatever it was they were hawking by phone, real or fake; I didn’t spend long enough on the line to find out.

I know someone else who says they just have to go and turn off a pan, or answer the door, and then just leave the caller hanging. They have also been known to place the receiver beside a speaker and turn the volume up - loud.

I got a woman the other day wanting to share the good news that I could get a reduction on my TV insurance, starting right away. That’s great, thanks very much… Only I don’t have any such policy.

One of the best bits of entertainment my other half got out of a would-be scammer some time ago was when they called to say they had identified an issue with our computer – someone had hacked in and they wanted to “help”. My partner played along, voiced his concern and proceeded to keep this guy on the line for ages as he “pressed certain keys”, as per the instructions.

He told the caller nothing was happening, that nothing was appearing on the screen like it should be doing, and the guy was getting more frustrated about my partner’s lack of comprehension or ability to follow his directions. The caller was beside himself by this time, and the penny still hadn’t dropped.

Then my partner let on. We didn’t even own a home computer then. Well, my other half got an earful and was told in very strong terms where to go (the expletive is unpublishable) for wasting their time. Erm, who made the call in the first place?

Seriously, it’s all very well us being able to have a laugh, or just to feel niggled when we hang up on yet another nuisance caller, but I feel for the poor folks, particularly the elderly or vulnerable, who get taken in by these calls. You hear such horror stories about people being robbed of their life savings or taking out ridiculous (and non-existent) plans because they trusted that “nice” lady or man on the phone.

I also feel a bit sorry for those operating out of these “call centres” who are possibly more desperate than they are devious. I can’t think of another reason why you would want to spend all of your waking and working hours trying to con innocent people.