What’s Wrong in a Microcosm

I often complain about what has gone wrong with our society –  not least the constant refrain that “something must be done” about whatever the problem du jour is –  and, usually, that something must be done by the government of the day, and, seeing votes in it, they find something and do it, irrespective of whether it actually adds any value or achieves its desired objective, or, indeed, makes matters worse.

A few months ago, I bought a Truecall unit to screen my phone calls and block those annoying telemarketers. These people are an excellent example of the point that laws do not change behaviour. We are registered with TPS, so these callers are breaking the law by calling as they are supposed to check the “do not call” list. That they continue to call demonstrates a contempt for the law and clearly, they have made the decision that the business model makes it worth their while to take the risk. Truecall eliminates the problem for me, so a result.

The other day, I was looking on the logs and noticed a number I hadn’t seen before and was curious, so I googled it. It was a telemarketer who was making automated calls about all sorts of financial planning and PPI claims. Apparently, they claim that the people they call have opted in to receive the calls. This is a blatant lie, but it doesn’t stop them. Still, the website I visited had plenty of people complaining –  and rightly so. A couple of people mentioned the Truecall unit and pointed out, accurately, that it stops these calls. Problem solved.

One numpty stated that Truecall was a scam, so I replied explaining that it was no such thing. It was a product that provided a useful service. For my efforts I was told to “fuck off, cunt.” Charming.

Anyway, all of this reminded me of just what is wrong with our society –  because here, in one microcosm, we have it beautifully illustrated. For the cost of a little box (approximately £100), the solution is available to all of those people complaining that something must be done. Except, it seems, not by them.

Of course, government doing something is not the best solution at all for a couple of reasons. Firstly, government is pretty rubbish at solving problems. They would come up with some half-arsed law that missed the target by a parsec having spent millions on consultations and focus groups while we have all grown old and are popping up daises waiting. Secondly, as I’ve already mentioned, laws don’t stop people doing things they shouldn’t. If there is enough incentive, they will carry on regardless.

Sometimes, if you want to solve a problem, you have to throw some money at it. A private company has come up with the technology to stop nuisance calls in their tracks, so the answer to those who say “can anything be done?” the answer is “yes, but you have to do it.” We are, after all, used to solving problems by spending money. We do it all the time. If your car breaks down, do you get the garage to fix it or do you stand at the roadside wailing that government must “do something” about your broken down car. If you do, that something is likely to involve wheel clamps, towing away and a hefty fee.

So, what really struck me about this little foray is just how infantile we have become, how dependent we are on a bunch of lying, thieving shysters to do our thinking and acting for us, when the solution is readily available for some money and a little personal responsibility. If everyone who complained about nuisance calls bought a call screener, the business model of the telemarketers would become that little bit more untenable and those who are annoyed by their pestering will have peaceful lives.

But, perhaps, they like complaining?


  1. OK, but if these companies are breaking the law by making the calls (are they? I don’t know the legal status of the TPS) then we can’t legitimately ask that the relevant authorities, to whatever extent is possible, do their fucking job and attempt to shut the offending operations down?

    Are the Outraged Hoardes demanding new rules… or merely the enforcement of the ones we already have? Compare, if you will, to the kerfuffle over press regulation. The morons screamed for swathes of new rules… all to deal with stuff that was already illegal.

    Truecall sounds like, as you say, a good innovation to solve a problem. And I’d pay my £100 if I had that problem. But I’d also pay £100 if that was all it took to stop someone punching me in the head three times a day… though I’d be slightly miffed that I needed to.

    Heck… and I think I’ve got the solution! If the people we pay taxes to in order to enforce the rules they make ‘on our behalf’ simply take our money and refuse to enforce said rules, then our costs in mitigating the results of the ensuant rule-breaking should be fully offset against tax. Sorted.

    • The answer to the question seems to be a bit of both. Yes, the powers that be are useless at enforcing the current rules. They do fine these companies from time to time, but it doesn’t stop them because the risks are worth it. And calling someone who is registered with TPS is illegal if the company does not have a prior relationship with them.

      Some folk are definitely asking for new rules. But, how would that work, given that the current sanctions clearly don’t? And, besides, many of these calls come from legitimate businesses that have decided that cold calling is worth the effort. Should we outlaw them? Sledgehammer to crack a peanut, I feel.

      No, the best bet is to use what is available to us. I pay for anti-spam software on my computer and don’t think twice about it. Likewise with Truecall.

  2. The ‘answer’ surely is to have a phone with Caller ID and not answer calls which do not show a number. Many phones now have contacts books which recognise callers programmed therein and displays their name.

    So rather than buy a box, make sure you have family, friends, plumber, doctor, etc entered in contacts and just look at the screen when a call comes in. No name, don’t answer. On my phone I can assign ring tones, so I know whether a call is from somebody I know.

    There are also answer machines with call monitoring.

    I also have VoIP as part of my ISP package and can select a feature which blocks number withheld calls.

    The main problem is most people think they will be put to death if they do not answer a phone, which is why people jump out of the bath or shower and rush to the phone, trip and break their necks.

    1. Phones if left eventually stop ringing.
    2. If the call is important, the caller will ring back. If not then it was not important and they should not have been pestering you in the first place.

    There are plenty of existing ways to avoid cold calls. People seem to prefer instead to make themselves victims and whinge about it.

    • The problem with nuisance calls is the ringing in the first instance. You have to respond by checking the display. If you are asleep as was happening to me and it keeps repeating every few minutes, then that itself is annoying. If you switch the ringer off, genuine calls won’t be heard. The box stops that problem. It’s an all in one solution that has been carefully thought through and deals with all of the variations of nuisance calls – from the intrusive unwanted ringing through to the silent and automated calls. None get through – only those that are genuine. The solution you suggest is one I have used, but is a fudge that is much surpassed by the Truecall unit.

  3. “The problem with nuisance calls is the ringing in the first instance.”

    Quite. Mrs 20 does not mind having her sleep after a night shift interrupted by a call from a family member (who are in a time zone far, far away). Now, she is forced to switch to telephones to silent, since she will doubtless be called about a computer virus or somesuch.

    It seems to me, LR, isn’t wht you are doing precisely the same as taking private medical care or flying Business class? You pay for what you get.

    And if you take the cheapest option – expecting the TPS or NHS to save you – you are entitled to a full, money-back guarantee for what you paid if it doesn’t work. Zilch.

  4. We have found that many of these calls come from abroad, mainly India, so the TPS simply doesn’t have jurisdiction. Is anyone really silly enough to turn on their computer and do what a total stranger in a foreign country tells them?

    I would love to get a Truecall but it would give me a large problem. Some of our relatives live overseas and do not speak English. Probably not good for family relations to make it impossible to phone us, or does the message to callers on the Truecall allow time for broadcast in two languages?

    • You can give them a two digit code to press on the keypad and it will put them straight through. You can record your own messages, so there is no reason why you shouldn’t do it in two languages if you prefer.

  5. XX just how infantile we have become, how dependent we are on a bunch of lying, thieving shysters to do our thinking and acting for us,XX

    Basically, I agree with you. However, when I see how much bloody tax they are taking off me, why should I not EXPECT them to “do something”?

    I am paying the bastards enough!

  6. Years ago one of my sisters would just leave her answerphone on (which allowed her to hear messages as they were being recorded), so when I called, and was asked to leave a message, I’d have to yell “Oi! Are you in? You going to pick up the bloody phone, ferfuxake?” or words to that effect. Thus, she screened all her calls. But your gizmo sounds like a much better option.

    We’ve started getting cold calls on the landline here nowadays, albeit not overwhelmingly intrusive as yet. This is a fairly recent development, and tends to be insurance companies (nearly always a young woman with a studiedly sexy voice) trying to sell their wares.
    So I’ve taken to answering the landline in English (I don’t have caller ID), which generally terminates the call fairly rapidly. And I don’t even need to be rude. 🙂 But that ploy doesn’t always work, however – some of them speak excellent English too, and carry on the sales pitch in English without breaking step 😯

    But it’s nowhere near as bad as when I lived in UK more than ten years ago. I only get a few calls a month, here. Thankfully.

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