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16 April 2006

Honest businesses and dodgy numbers

For some time now, I've had anonymous call rejection (ACR). This is a subscription service that automatically bars calls from people who intentionally withhold their telephone number or CLI (Caller Line ID). I wouldn't answer the door to someone who hides their face, why should I do the same on the phone with someone who wants to hide something?

This service has worked wonders, where the Telephone Preference Service was less than 100% successful, in stopping unsolicited and unwanted sales calls and means that in nearly all cases I have the person's number and can return the call, even if they don't leave a message on the answering machine.

It also pretty much puts a stop to hoax calls, malicicious calls, potential burglars seeing if your house is empty, and so on.

Great. The only down side is somewhat clueless businesses, banks and NHS 24 who for some unknown reason intentionally withhold their number as well. Since this means from my phone's point of view I can't tell the difference between NHS 24 and a dodgy double glazing salesman or a burglar seeing if my house is empty, I cannot understand why any reputable business would want to carry on in the same way as those nefarious characters. Indeed when my bank called recently for a security check, they withheld their number too. If they do this, how can I tell it's the bank calling and not an identity theft merchant?

I'm not suggesting that doctors on call on NHS24 have to give me their mobile number but how can any legitimate business justify hiding their number? The reasons for this are hard for most reasonable people to understand.

It's £60 to set up and a derisory £7.70 a quarter for a legitimate business to present an alternative number of their chosing.

Thus any doctor on call on NHS24 could elect to present the NHS24 number rather than their mobile.

Why do legitimate businesses, rather than pay less than 9p a day, still withhold their number and make themselves look like criminals, and junk callers and deny the public a chance to be confident in the knowledge that they are talking to who they think they are rather than a hoaxer?

Roll on ACR for mobiles. That'll put an end to those endless "free upgrade" calls.

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