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Rage against the machines

This week’s BuzzWord is robocall, and takes a look at those irritating automated phone calls that have become a feature of so many sales, marketing, and now electoral campaigns in recent years. I should warn you, though, I’m about to get on my soapbox; I absolutely hate automated phone calls.

To my mind, there is no more intrusive method of selling – whether it be a product or a philosophy – than to phone someone up, uninvited, and start wittering on. It’s the one time I feel perfectly justified in being rude enough to hang up, since the caller has already been rude enough to force his/her way into my home to try and get me to buy something I’ve never expressed the slightest interest in.  Do they really think I’m going to shell out my hard-earned cash – or indeed my political allegiance – just because some faceless, disembodied voice exhorts me to? I don’t think so.

The only defence against this tide of irritatingness (I know, I’m making up my own words now, but you get my drift) is to sign up to the Telephone Preference Service. UK-based companies (and anyone calling on their behalf) are required to check the TPS lists, and refrain from calling anyone who’s registered. Callers from overseas firms, however, are not thus restricted, and they can still get your number and dial you up with annoying messages about cruises or holiday homes. Being ex-directory helps not a jot, and there’s very little you can do to stop these foreign calls (I know, I’ve tried).

And now – picture me, head in hands, in despair – the method is being used in the political arena too. Don’t think it’s just in the US though – all of the major political parties in the UK have been caught at it in the past few years (take a look here, here and here), though thankfully they seem to have omitted this from their toolbag for the current election campaign.

There is light at the end of the tunnel though. If the very thought of all this has the same effect on you as it does on me, take a look at this clip – it’ll cheer you up no end!

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Sharon Creese

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