Alan Castle: Ad hoc calls are a pure irritation

MRS C was very busy the other day making arrangements to go out and do some more Christmas shopping when the telephone rang.

The usual response in the household to that sound is: “It’s for you.”

I am rarely allowed to answer the telephone nowadays because Mrs C claims I am too brusque with some callers.

I point out that I am not so with family and friends and most others, but it is annoying when the calls come just as you are about to sit down to an evening meal or have just switched on the TV to watch a programme. Then if someone wants to flog me something, the more irate I get.

The reasons are very simple. More often than not, the call is from the far side of the world. I ask some where they are based before ending the call.

If the caller wants to get into my computer, down goes the phone without even speaking to the said person. There is a well-known scam doing the rounds at present.

Secondly, often they want whoever answers the phone to get involved in a survey.

Giving information to some stranger is not my way of helping big businesses try to get more money out of the Castle wallet. Already it seems to disappear far too frequently and easily.

Last weekend, we even had a call at 9.30 in the morning wanting to know if Mrs C wanted to take part in some survey or another. This time she was most emphatic in telling the caller: “Don’t call me, I will call you.” She should have added: “Do not expect it in the near future.”

We have cut out a lot of the calls by being members of the Telephone Preference Service.

They point out on their website the following: ‘It is now a legal obligation for anyone making direct marketing calls to ensure they do not call individuals who have registered their wish not to be called.’

Secondly: ‘The Telephone Preference Service is a central register of individuals who have indicated they do not wish to receive sales and marketing calls.’

Both excellent and I must admit we do not get many interruptions from the UK from cold-call salesmen with the exception of one well-known firm of patio and double-glazing manufactures. But, usually when we ask where they obtained our number as we are members of the TPS, that seems to lead to an instant cut off from the caller.

There is one big problem, however, it does not affect calls from abroad. Hence the ones we get asking about surveys and other matters.

TPS seemingly only has control in the UK. Obviously, this is one drawback of the globalisation of business, although others may say it is a boon. To me it is pure irritation.

THE suggestion was so improbable that I nearly fell off my pogo stick with laughter.

The idea was that motorists should be banned from smoking in cars. All very laudable and if those silly people who still smoke do so despite all the warnings, then they deserve whatever comes to them.

I know that legislators say they are trying to protect children and others in such ‘smoke filled coffins’.

But just think of this. How many drivers of all sorts of vehicles have you seen using their mobile telephones while driving along our roads from 20 to 80 miles per hour?

The answer is, quite simply, a lot. The other day, I was on the A1 travelling north when I joined a line of six vehicles behind a tractor. He trundled up the A1 with an increasing queue of frustrated motorists behind him.

When eventually I did get to overtake, my passenger said: “He is on his b..... phone! I bet he is telling his mates how many vehicles he has in his convoy.”

So legislators, you cannot enforce a law covering driving and using a phone, what chance have you got with smoking in cars.