Nuisance phone calls, ways to stop them

Evenings are the working person’s quality time. You’ve had a hard day at your job, and you’re just about to tuck into your meal and enjoy Eastenders or the Big Match.

The phone rings… and if it were friends or family, you’d ask them to call back… but when you answer the call, the phone goes dead. “Hello? HELLO!??!?!?”. Nothing. And you sit back down to your meal feeling slightly less relaxed.

The nuisance call No.1 of 2005 must be the ‘International’ calls (if you’re lucky enough to sport Caller ID on your telephone). It’s a horrible pre-recorded message along the lines of “Hi! You’ve won a luxury widget for four in the beautiful moonlit islands of Pago-Pago… etc.”. I’ve nothing against our Friends Across The Ocean, but even Uncle Sam would be horrified if he realised how much misery these calls are causing.

Your telephone has become a marketing tool, intent on home invasion. But it doesn’t stop there. I am sitting in our pastoral office surroundings and this week alone to our work number… (it’s only Tuesday lunchtime)

  • 3 calls from International numbers, competitions
  • Numerous calls from companies wishing to speak to the MD about our company mobiles
  • A couple of calls regarding our phone system
  • A call regarding debt collection

Annoying phone calls… the tip of the iceberg
The law against these unsolicited is sketchy, but unethical tele-marketing campaigners faces fines of up to ¨£5000. The Direct Marketing Associated is employed by Ofcom to operate opt-out services for email, mail, phone and fax, but it is seemingly growing beyond control.

Included on the unsolicited lists are emails, postal mail and faxes tooǃÓalthough the unsolicited telephone calls are by far the most annoying.

So how to get rid of them?
Luckily, help is at hand, although it’s not 100% guaranteed, but it IS free.

The Telephone Preference Service is a very simple to use ‘take me off the list’ registry. Also see the website for links to the Fax Preference Service and the Mail and Email preference services.

OptOutUK is another service offering a slightly different approach.

As an unbiased individual opinion, I will let you make your own mind up about them, but I will suggest that you at least give one of them a go if you are pestered with unsolicited calls.

Please feel free to add your comments on this subject below. I will also be periodically adding a ‘rogues gallery’ of telephone numbers which call during the day and leave no message.

Things perhaps you didn’t know about Shropshire

  • Rednal Go-Karting… a superb event-based go karting track built on Rednal Airfield. I visited there recently for my nephew’s 18th birthday, and had a fabulous time. Brilliant track, excellent karts and a great service. Computer timing and more! A real must-do for anyone in the area. More fun with more people!
    Rednal Ind Est West Felton Oswestry Shropshire SY11 4HS
    07989 471307
  • The Golden Cross… the oldest hotel in Shrewsbury! I was lucky enough to have a fantastic meal here recently. A superb menu for lunch or dinner, and an absolutely fabulous setting. If you are into dining out, this is an absolute must.
  • Check back here periodically for more mini-reviews.
    Chris Jones

When electricity fails…

Having lived in Shropshire all my life, I’ve made many observational descriptions for family and friends outside the area which are rooted in happiness… the tranquility, the fantastic views, the quaint towns and villages. Living in remote areas is bliss, I say.

Because of our modern lifestyle, we rely far too much upon electricity. And with a huge proportion of business now conducted over the internet from homes using computers, us ‘rural folk’ soon realise that there is nothing more frustrating or potentially damning than a power failure.

Yes… power failures are one of the uglier sides of rural living in Shropshire. Electricity can be off for 2 minutes, 2 hours or even days in remote locations. And if you’re running computer equipment this means lost work, downtime and general misery.

But there’s a solution which is cheap, efficient and has saved me from frustration many times. Uninterruptible Power Supplies, or UPS for short.

UPS systems can come in many shapes, sizes and ratings. Mine is literally the size of a shoebox, and sits neatly beside my Apple Mac, totally unobtrusive. So, how do they work?

Simple! The UPS is basically a backup battery which runs at mains voltage (240v). My own UPS is powerful enough to keep my computer, 2 monitors, backup hard drive and table lamp running should the power go out. The UPS recognises that the mains has failed, and continues to supply power. Mine lasts for about 5 minutes, ample time enough to save all my work and shut down the computer safely.

Most consumer UPS units work like a glorified extension socket: one plug goes from the UPS to the wall socket, and the UPS unit (in my instance) has four sockets in it, 3 protected and one ‘straight through’. When mains power exists, the unit charges up the internal battery, ready for the day of power failure.

It’s all very simple really. But very critical in the way I work. These consumer units can power anything within reason, so long as you don’t exceed the rated output of the UPS.

So… the five minutes are up, and there’s still no power. I’ve shut down safely and saved my work, but now what?

From experience, the power can be off from anywhere between 1 minute and a day. So, having a small portable backup generator really is essential.

Costing around ¨£100, my generator runs off an unleaded/2-stroke oil mixture, and a single tankful can give about 4 or 5 hours of operation. It’s relatively quiet, comes on castors, and is about the size of two stacked washing up bowls.

Again, the generator is more than adequate for my computer, monitors and backup drive. Plus a table lamp, should the darkness come!

So, you see, there is nothing which should stand in your way when the power goes down. For the cost of a trip to the theatre, you’re covered.

Useful contacts for information and supplies in the Shropshire area are abundant. UPS systems and generators can be found at Staples, DIY stores or even Argos.