Big brands aren’t immune from nuisance calling

It’s not only small telesales firms and window salesmen getting caught up in nuisance calls, as my own experience with Vodafone last week made clear.

Michael Barnett

I suppose it had to happen sooner or later as poetic justice for banging on about nuisance calls so much, but my guard dropped momentarily. Foolishly, I was drawn in by an online ‘survey’ that I wrongly thought was from Tesco, as it offered shopping vouchers as an incentive. I quickly realised from the questions that it was merely a means of harvesting data – not quickly enough, however, to avoid submitting my contact details.

Sure enough, a few days later I found myself bombarded with various spammy emails and being called twice a day by an unrecognised number – 0808 099 6746, in case you’re interested. Being registered on the Telephone Preference Service (TPS), I was surprised to be getting the calls, but not half as surprised as when a little internet research suggested this number belonged to Vodafone. Incidentally, my mobile phone contract is with Orange.

An online chat with a Vodafone service operative and an enquiry to its Twitter team later, and it was confirmed that the number is indeed operated as a sales line on behalf of Vodafone, most likely by a third-party sales house. I would have asked them to confirm that on the phone, except the only call I managed to answer was a silent one, with no-one on the other end.

To be fair to Vodafone, after I complained (and reported the number to Ofcom) the calls stopped pretty sharpish – presumably because the company had me removed from whatever database I’d appeared on, as I requested.

But here’s what’s troubling: the call centre had failed to screen my number against the TPS, as required by law, and had silent-called me, against Ofcom’s guidelines. I would add that the survey from which I believe my details were acquired lacked a facility to opt out of third party marketing, though I can’t prove this is how my number arrived on the database.

We can only hope the call centre was having a bad day, and that this instance is an aberration. Even if it is, though, there’s a wider point here about how careful brands must be about buying sales leads.

Lead generation is a multi-layered industry, which means as a customer you need to be aware not only of your supplier’s practices, but also those of your supplier’s supplier. If there’s to be any hope of stamping out nuisance calls, brands at the end of the supply chain need to be certain of what’s happening at every other link.

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