Targeted by cold callers - and no choice but to listen

Cheryl was lucky enough to sit next to 1980s pop star Sinitta, pictured here at a previous event   Picture: PA

CHERYL GIBBS: An embarrassing moment at a celebrity shindig with Sinitta

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I decided to use a particular cable company for my phone, TV, internet etc. As part of that, the answering machine function on my phone line is run by the same company and I no longer have to worry about running out of space on the tape.

This new answering system had been fine, until the past month or so, when some genius decided that the best way to drum up business for his company was to set up automated cold calling.

Which wouldn’t have bothered me had my answerphone system not taken to recording the proceedings.

I’ve no idea how my home phone number has got on to marketing lists. I’m normally so, so careful to protect myself from carefully-selected third parties, always ticking the ‘no, b****r off, I don’t want any contact even if it is the end of the world and you have the only spaceship that’ll save me and my family’ box.

I wonder if my offspring, in their endless quest to find things on the internet, have inadvertently plugged our number into something?

Because as much as I try to avoid them, the cold callers are breathing their ice down my line.

I’ve been coming home to automated messages, disembodied voices that drone on and on and on, listing the various options of buttons I can press to see if I have been unfairly mis-sold something or other.

Yes I have, or at least that’s what I told my husband about the expensive shoes and how I thought they were in the sale etc. But no, I’m not about to speculatively sue someone.

What made me laugh the first time I encountered one of these messages was the fact that the automated seller thought I hadn’t heard my options correctly, and decided to run through them again and again and again with my cable company dutifully recording everything.

I took happiness from the fact that the company was at least being charged for its – lengthy – time on the line. Round one in the automated war of attrition to my answering system.

But it was short-lived glee, since I’ve discovered that I can’t delete subsequent automated battles between my answerphone and the cold callers without listening to them all first. Great.