My Google Nexus 4 has been playing up lately: taking ages to connect to WiFi and burning up battery extra quickly. Time for another factory reset, I thought, so plugged it into my PC to backup my ebooks, music files and photographs only to discover that it no longer showed up in Windows Explorer.
It turns out that a recent Windows 8.1 update has prevented many Android users from connecting their devices.
A few years ago, around about the end of May 2006, I signed up for the Telephone Preference Service (TPS). I know that because I have a letter from them confirming that I had signed up for it.
The TPS is
“the official central opt out register on which you can record your preference not to receive unsolicited sales or marketing calls. It is a legal requirement that all organisations (including charities, voluntary organisations and political parties) do not make such calls to numbers registered on the TPS unless they have your consent to do so.”
Despite that we still get unsolicited sales calls from time to time, wrapped up in a cunning disguise to make them look like we’ve won a competition or money-off voucher for a new kitchen, bathroom or bedroom.
I got another one of those calls this evening, and I have to confess to have … well, see for yourself.
As professional sales calls go this one didn’t get off to a terribly good start. When I picked up the phone the caller was in the middle of a chat with a colleague. They were laughing about something.
I said hello.
“Oh! Sorry,” she replied, “Hello!”
I’d clearly taken her by surprise. But ever the professional she started to read from her script.
“Congratulations! You’ve been selected in a … blah blah blah … to receive an £850 voucher towards the cost of a new kitchen or bedroom.”
“Sorry, I’m not interested,” I said.
She ignored me and pressed on with her script.
“Can I ask you how old is your kitchen?”
“My what?” I asked.
“Your kitchen,” she said.
“Kitchen?! What’s a kitchen?”
“You know,” she said, a little taken aback, “a kitchen.”
“I have no idea what that is. I don’t think we’ve got a … what did you call it?”
“Yeah, I don’t think we’ve got a kitchen.”
“A kitchen,” she said, her voice getting more animated now. “Surely you know what a kitchen is…”
And then she went to the trouble of trying to describe it for me.
“… A kitchen: a room with a sink and cupboards in it.”
“Hmm … no, sorry. I have no idea what you’re talking about.”
“Come on!” she said, “stop taking the mickey, everyone knows what a kitchen is.”
“I have … no … idea,” I said, sounding genuinely confused.
“Okay,” she continued, “then can you tell me how old your bedroom is?”
“Well!” I exclaimed, “that’s a very personal question!”
“No it’s not!” she said, quite forcefully.
I’m pretty certain that bit wasn’t on her call centre script.
“It is to me.”
“How can it be a personal question?” she challenged me.
“Well, I don’t phone up complete strangers and ask them how old their bedroom is! How rude!”
“But it’s for a voucher,” she said.
“Ahhh!” I said, sounding quite enlightened. “A VOUCHER!”
“Yes,” she said, almost audibly sighing with relief.
“Yeah, I’m not interested.”
“What?!” she exploded. “I can’t believe that you’re turning down the opportunity for an £850 voucher for a new kitchen or bedroom.”
“I … I …,” I wasn’t quite sure what to say. But that was okay because I didn’t have to. She was back to her script.
“Can you tell me how old the furniture in your bedroom is?”
“Well, can you tell me how old your kitchen is?”
I think she was trying to catch me out. But how could she, had she forgotten, I don’t know what a kitchen is.
She then called for her manager, and I could hear her talking to him. “This guy says that he doesn’t know what a kitchen is,” she said to him.
There was a pause while she handed me over to her manager, Dan.
“Hello sir,” he said, quite politely.
“Hello,” I replied, as is the custom.
“Are you having a good evening?” he asked.
“Erm, yes. I was just trying to explain to your colleague,” I ventured, “that I wasn’t interested in your offer just now because we already have twins and have another baby on the way so we’re really not planning to upgrade our kitchen or bedrooms in the near future.”
“That’s fine,” he said. “I’m sorry about that, she must have been a bit slow to understand what you were saying.”
“That’s ok, I understand. Thank you. Good night.”
I hung up.
We seem to get these calls every couple of weeks. The next time it happens I really need to take the company’s name so that I can contact the Telephone Preference Service and ask them to follow up the call to ascertain why we were being contacted.
In the meantime I’ll just continue to have fun. The last time I got a call like this I just told them that we hadn’t had a kitchen since the explosion and that the insurance company was dealing with it. The next time … any suggestions? Leave them in the comments, if you like.
p.s. I do know what a kitchen is. We’ve got loads of them!
This month my 18-month phone contract with O2 came to an end, so deciding to keep my existing handset (the O2 Xda Orbit) I chose a cheaper tariff, enabling me to save a massive £15.00 per month.
But I still get more text messages and phone call minutes bundled with my tariff (Online simplicity 25 with Unlimited Web Bolt On) than I know what to do with.
Let’s start with text messages. I get 1,000 per month.
Ten times ten times ten.
Or if you’re Roman: M.
When do I have the time to send 1,000 text messages every month?!
Let’s say there’s an average of 30 days per month, and I’m awake for 16 hours per day. That means that I need to send around 33 texts per day, at just over 2 per hour every hour to take best advantage of that offer.
And that’s not even taking into account the 620 minutes that I need to use making telephone calls.
Six-hundred and twenty minutes of voice calls I get bundled in with my calling package.
That’s over 10 hours!
When am I going to have the time to speak to folks on the phone for over ten hours a month, don’t they know I’m spending most of that time composing texts?!
Presumably the British mobile phone network O2 chose that name because it’s the chemical symbol for oxygen which is absolutely essential for life on this planet.
It’s just as well my mobile phone isn’t similarly essential because I’ve had pretty much no mobile signal all day. Jane is the same.
When I couldn’t find anything on the O2 website about I gave their customer support a call and got through to a nice Scottish guy called Mark who confirmed that there had been a network outage east of Edinburgh.
A few minutes ago I spotted this story on the Scotsman website:
Mobile phone network down in Lothians
MOBILE phone users in parts of the Lothians have been left without a signal after a fault on the O2 network.
The company said a power cut earlier this afternoon had caused the network to close down in parts of Fife and areas to the east of Edinburgh.
The Capital itself has not been affected.
A spokeswoman for O2 said engineers are attempting to fix the fault but could not confirm when the network would be back up and running.