The man who did a number on cold-calling phone pests
A man in the UK tired of cold callers to his phone line, set up his own premium rate number. When cold callers phoned him, he made money by keeping them talking.
A man targeted by marketing companies is making money from cold calls with his own higher-rate phone number.
In November 2011 Lee Beaumont paid £10 plus VAT to set up his personal 0871 line – so to call him now costs 10p, from which he receives 7p. So far he has claimed to made around £150 per year.
Mr Beaumont came up with the plan when he grew sick of calls offering to help him reclaim payment protection insurance (PPI), or install solar panels.
Once he had set up the 0871 line, every time a bank, gas or electricity supplier asked him for his details online, he submitted it as his contact number.
He added he was “very honest” and the companies did ask why he had a such a number.
He told the programme he replied: “Because I’m getting annoyed with PPI phone calls when I’m trying to watch Coronation Street so I’d rather make 10p a minute.”
He said almost all of the companies he dealt with were happy to use it and if they refused he asked them to email.
The number of calls received by Mr Beaumont has fallen from between 20 and 30 a month to just 13 last month.
Because he works from home, Mr Beaumont has been able to increase his revenue by keeping cold callers talking – asking for more details about their services.
The premium number regulator Phone Pay Plus says the public should think twice before setting up their own lines.
They say phone line providers must meet consumer protection standards, which include transparency, fairness and complaint handling, which would mean clearly setting out the cost of each call to any organisation that rang.
They told You and Yours: “Premium rate numbers are not designed to be used in this way and we would strongly discourage any listeners from adopting this idea, as they will be liable under our code for any breaches and subsequent fines that result.”
Phone Pay Plus said it strongly discouraged people from adopting the idea.