Saturday, 27 October 2012

"Victory over cold callers"

It’s been a long hard week and I’m freezing cold. The heating is on, the door is bolted shut, I’m wearing a jumper and it’s still freezing cold! There’s some kind of crazy gale going on still outside, and still the autumn leaves are flying past the window, lit up like golden tickets by one of the street lamps on Archway Road.

I went into Soho this morning, essentially for a change of scenery and to sit in the Costa Coffee on Old Compton Street writing music.

I chatted for some time to a charming lady from Calgary in Canada; a very well-seasoned traveller who’d been to almost every place in the UK that I suggested she visit whilst here. She was off to see Jersey Boys, but thrilled and surprised me when she announced that her favourite film was Guy Ritchie’s Snatch. I immediately pointed at a poster for Taboo and said, “if you’re unshockable, you might like that...”

On the way back to Highgate, before going for a jog in air which felt like it was freezing around me, I read The Daily Mail. It was a deeply painful experience. The further inside you delve, the more the tawdry rag shows its true fascist colours; campaigns against porn on the internet, curiously biased journalism from Bel Mooney. The one story which did jump out, however, was that of a man who managed to take a cold calling company to court for wasting his time! “Victory over cold callers,” read the headline, and it was about the only thing I cheered in the newspaper. Apparently this chap had recorded the long conversations he’d had with a company offering PPI compensation and then sent them an invoice for £195 for 19 minutes of his wasted time, plus electricity. When they refused to pay, he took them to a small claims court... and won.

Now what’s important to say about this case is that a small claims court cannot set a legal precedent, and also, that the judges at small claims courts often have a very peculiar agenda, as I discovered to my great cost last year... But the news can only be good. If these companies, who annoy the living daylights out of us all, are forced to close, then the world, in my view, will be a much nicer place.

Mind you, having, for two weeks, once worked as a cold caller, I can tell you it’s not a very nice job. I was given the task of asking a questionnaire on behalf of the Department for Work and Pensions. It was, in my view, a huge waste of government money because the questions we asked all yielded deeply predictable answers. I was forced to ask things like, “how important is presentation within your work force?” Like someone was going to say, “not at all important”, and if they did, what would this tell the government? That anyone who walks into a job centre looking minging should be sent to see if they can find a job at that very specific (and anonymous) company? There was no place to write any of the genuinely interesting things that people said to me on the phone. There were about 200 questions. We were asked to specifically contact businesses and it took the poor buggers an hour to answer everything. You could hear people the other end of the line dying a little inside, every time I opened my mouth to ask something else. Nothing compared to what I was going through, however, it was  a profoundly soul destroying experience.

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