I like to keep my home phone number private, thanks all the same. Just for friends and family, you know.
And over the years, I’ve been pretty successful in protecting it from the prying gaze of those who would ring me without invitation, pretending to be my friend but actually intent on flogging me something.
I try not to appear smug when acquaintances complain of being plagued day and sometimes night too by unwelcome calls. Not so me, although I fear that makes it all the more blimmin’ annoying when one does get past the barricades.
Step forward Serenity I.S of Bridgend, an entirely reputable company I have no doubt. I just don’t want them being reputable with me and, when they try to be, I expect them to be a whole lot better at rectifying the matter.
Most firms are swift to at least make the promise that they will immediately remove your number from their list and never darken your door again. They don’t do so entirely of their own free will, of course, but because they have to. (If you’re unsure of your rights on this, Google ‘Telephone Preference Service’).
So I think that companies should have systems set up to ensure they don’t further annoy someone who is already peeved at being disturbed without so much as a by your leave.
Which is where I fell out with dear old Serenity...
The call I received started with a woman talking to me about whether a particular colleague’s blonde hair was long or short.
A couple of querying hellos from me and she realised that she had actually connected with a target and had better stop that quick bit of office chit-chat.
I couldn’t see her of course, but I would lay odds that she didn’t even bat an eyelid as she went straight into her opening patter.
I asked her where she was calling from, she told me, and I requested that she remove my number from her company’s list. Her response was to say she just wanted to tell me what the call was about. Big mistake.
Then she said she couldn’t remove my number because it wasn’t displayed on her screen, which had been paused at the start of the call. I’d have to confirm my number to her before she could take action. Bigger mistake.
Fair enough, she did put me through to her supervisor without further prevarication (ever have that sixth sense that someone’s glad to pass you on?) but that didn’t help me much.
Perfectly polite, but unable to help because the screen was paused - I’d have to confirm my number, etc. Big mistake.
‘Give me the name of the most senior person in the office then. Thanks for that, now put me through to him,’ His response? ‘He’s not in the office at the moment...’ Bigger mistake.
‘Okay chum, let’s do this slowly. Give me the name of the most senior person who is actually physically in the office at this given moment in time,’
Which is how I met Rebecca. She had the authority and / or whit to get past the screen pause hurdle and assured me that my number was being removed as she spoke.
I thanked her for that, although not for the unnecessary sign off that she hoped I had a truly lovely day (what, the day your company has just taken a little bit of shine off for me?)
So my point is this. Don’t have a system that can’t regularly cope with a simple and legally-empowered instruction to remove a phone number. Sort it out and then I and others like me will have a better chance of having a truly lovely day without the need to hear you wishing us so.
*Mark Acheson is Head of Digital at The News
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