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Issue:- 09/1710 September 2009


NUISANCE calls and unsolicited sales messages continue to create a great deal of anxiety among Britain’s elderly population, with a significant proportion of 60+ year olds receiving as many as 240 unwanted calls every month. Yet despite regulation of the telemarketing market since 1999, the number of nuisance and ‘silent’ calls made to UK households remains at a staggering 3 billion each year.

Of greatest concern to consumers has been the marked increase in the volume of so-called ‘silent’ calls – when the phone rings in the early hours of the morning or late at night and you pick up the receiver to hear nothing but silence. Understandably most people fear the worst, especially those who live alone and the elderly.  In fact the problem is so bad that over 17 million people in the UK have registered their telephone numbers with the Call Prevention Registry and Telephone Preference Service. And in 2008 the number of complaints made each month to the phone watchdog, Ofcom, almost tripled.

In the vast majority of cases silent and nuisance calls are not made by pranksters or potential burglars eyeing up your home. They are predominantly made by telemarketing organisations in call centres throughout the UK and overseas, some of whom use automated calling systems that can dial more telephone numbers than their available staff can deal with. And that’s when you get silent calls.  But that doesn’t stop the feelings of anxiety and dread experienced by the majority of people who receive these calls.  "Our customers describe feeling ‘on edge’ each time the phone rings or ‘intimidated’ by the increasingly aggressive sales tactics used by some callers before registering their telephone numbers with us. Many more people believe that their homes are being primed for burglary which causes a significant degree of fear and anxiety, particularly among the elderly and those living alone, whilst 7 out of 10 people believe they have been victim of a phone scam.”  says Paul MacKenzie-Cummins of the Call Prevention Registry, the UK’s leading independent anti-nuisance calls service provider.

In 2008 Ofcom fined Barclaycard £50,000 (the maximum possible) for breaching telemarketing rules. During a 7 month investigation the phone regulator found Barclaycard guilty of making an excessively high volume of silent calls with consumers having no way of knowing who had called them. However, Ofcom’s action against Barclaycard represented little more than a token gesture in the fight against nuisance calls.

The phone watchdog has been widely criticised in recent years over its relaxed stance on the issue of unwanted telemarketing calls made to UK consumers. As has it’s support for the Telephone Preference Service (TPS) – an organisation operated by the Direct Marketing Association – which sells its data to the very telemarketing companies guilty of making these unacceptably high levels of nuisance calls.  Indeed, the average customer who has registered their details with TPS will only see a drop of 54% in nuisance calls over the course of a year, compared to the 95% fall in calls received by those who are registered with the Call Prevention Registry.

Even if people know there is nothing to fear, the fact remains that nuisance and silent calls are annoying, irritating and inconvenient at best. They can also be illegal, especially if your telephone number has been registered with CPR or TPS.

“There are a number of practical steps that phone owners can take to put a stop to all nuisance calls. The first thing to do is to keep calm and resist the temptation to give the caller a piece of your mind - they will love to hear they have rattled you. And make sure you don’t give permission to your insurance company or any other organisation you have financial dealings with to pass on your details to any third party organisation – most of them will distribute your details to a number of other companies they have links with.  f you are still receiving a lot of nuisance and telemarketing calls and don’t want to involve the Police, you should consider registering with the Call Prevention Registry (CPR). CPR is an organisation that keeps a list of people who do not wish to receive any telemarketing calls and has the highest success rate in blocking nuisance calls than any other service provider and is the only organisation that can block unwanted calls from sales companies in the UK and overseas.” says MacKenzie-Cummins. 

Family fun at Transport through the Ages

TRANSPORT enthusiasts are invited to step back in time to view a stunning array of vehicles and vessels.  Around 20,000 people are expected to flock to ‘Transport through the Ages’, which takes place at Birkenhead Park on Saturday 19 and Sunday 20 September.

Some of the main attractions on Sunday at this free event will be 7 vintage full sized ‘Showmen’s’ traction engines and a 1908 Stanley Steam driven car, a vintage Victorian steam driven ‘Galloper’ fairground ride and the accompanying vintage fair attractions.  There will also be around 120 vintage and classic cars, commercial vehicles, motor cycles and pedal cycles at the event – which is organized by the Lions International led by Birkenhead Lions, and the Wirral Transport Museum. The attractions are on offer on both days guaranteeing ‘Transport through the Ages’ will be a fun family day out.

Brass Band, Jazz Bands, Reggae Bands , Choirs, street entertainers, trade and charity stalls, exhibition stands, log pulling displays by ‘Shire Horses’ and many other attractions complete the event.

Ken Fretwell the Organizer said:- “This event promises to be even better than last year and offers families of all ages a fantastic day out, not only for transport enthusiasts but for music enthusiasts as well. We really hope people will come along and soak up the atmosphere at this free event. "

The event is being supported by Wirral Borough Council, Merseytravel , Merseyrail and many other local businesses.

Merseytravel, will provide a free bus service from Liverpool to Birkenhead on Sunday 20 September only starting from Exchange Street East at and at 15 minute intervals thereafter until 3..30pm. There will also be a regular vintage tram service / bus service from Woodside Ferry terminal via the Wirral Transport Museum, in Taylor Street, to Birkenhead Park. Merseytravel have produced a souvenir timetable for all buses running to the event from Liverpool and Birkenhead.

Guides and Brownies make a splash!

Cllr Dowd (seated centre), Chair of Merseytravel, joins the Girl Guides mid-river.

CHAIR of Merseytravel, Councillor Mark Dowd, joined more than 60 rainbows, brownies and guides who were renewing their Girl Guide vows in the middle of the Mersey.

The young girls, from the Wheatland District Guides in Wirral, renewed their vows on board the Mersey Ferry on Sunday as part of their “Make a Splash” task.  The task was one of the requirements for a one off guide badge in honour of the 100th year of the Girl Guides Association.

Tawny Owl Domini Webb said:- “The event on the Mersey Ferries involved every member of our organisation, ranging from Rainbows, Brownies, Girl Guides and group leaders making a renewal of the declaration they made when they joined the movement.  Over the next 12 months we’ll be holding and staging a number of events to celebrate this special centenary year.”

Councillor Mark Dowd met the girls during their trip. He said:- “It’s great that the Girl Guides Association is still going strong after 100 years. All the guides and brownies taking part in the renewal of their vows are a credit to the organisation and to the community.”

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