THE BLOG

Is Cold Calling on the Way Out?

25/06/2013 14:14 BST | Updated 25/06/2013 14:14 BST

It is the bane of anyone with a home or business telephone's existence: The unwanted cold call. Even with the invention and growth of the internet, many of us are still targeted by companies trying to flog us something that we have absolutely no use for.

As recently as two days ago, I took a call from a double glazing company - despite my phone having been connected only a month ago and not being available anywhere other than my parents and close friends (it was them, wasn't it?) - who said that they could see from "their records" that my windows had been double glazed by them two years ago and that they could do me a great deal on getting them updated and/or changed to triple glazing.

This would have been great, but just for two problems:

  1. I'd only lived in my house for two months and only rent it, meaning that the decision of having double glazing couldn't have been made by myself, and -
  2. We have single glazed windows... So he was talking utter rubbish.

I told him these two points and asked him to be taken off their database. He hung up. I look forward to our next round of blatant sales-pitch lies in the next 2-3 months. Bless. It reminded me of Fonejacker...

It did make me wonder why cold calling still exists. Today's call centres are extremely technical and with up-to-date technology including multi-channel solutions, automated call answering, call rerouting, number recognition, speech recognition software, call transferring and voice dialling. Surely with all the marketing tools out there (both online and offline) such as email marketing, social media marketing and everything else, cold calling seems pretty pointless.

I can understand cold calling when the research has been done or the calls are made to people who have used that company before, but blind cold calling where the company are just picking random numbers and hoping somebody answers seems like spitting in the wind to me.

The news of the call centre that features in BBC Three's attempt to do The Office for real (but forgets that the lead character of David Brent is a likeable and well-written character and not a real-life lawsuit waiting to happen) has been fined £225,000 for making nuisance calls is surely a sign that these types of cold callers are coming to an end. Which? have called for the government to come down hard on cold callers, as this clip from BBC News shows.

Simon Entwisle of the ICO (Information Commissioner's Office) told The Independent: "While the activities of Nev and his call centre employees have provided entertainment for many, they hide a bigger problem within the cold calling industry. People have the legal right not to receive marketing calls."

I struggle to see how it can be seen as entertainment. The "hilarious exploits" of Neville "Big Nev" Wilshire come across as borderline offensive and more than a little humiliating for the new starters and staff that he employs. I've worked in a call centre before, and I would have walked out or lashed out if I had some buffoon shouting The Killers in my ear or any of the other moronic exploits he gets up to.

Maybe I don't get it? If that's the case, I'm pretty thankful for that. I spent the one episode I watched expecting him to be sued or punched at any moment. Maybe they're saving that for the season finale when Big Nev gets hit with the £225,000 fine and sings "Heaven Knows I'm Miserable Now" into a new employees face.

Here's hoping that these fines will make the likes of Big Nev's call centre and the other guilty parties start paying attention to the laws and Ofcom's policies and guidelines, maybe everybody across the land can sit down and watch car crash TV without somebody trying to flog us something we have absolutely no use for. Fingers crossed, people.