Now, I make a habit of not responding to numbers I don’t recognise on my personal mobile so no harm was done, but these calls have become increasingly persistent. I googled the number out of curiosity and discovered what I had already suspected. An automated dialler originating in Czechoslovakia. If the user calls back, it’s a premium rate international call.
So yesterday, out of a sense of good citizenship I called Orange, to tell them about the scam and ask them to block the number. A service that they advertise on their web site. The first operator told me there was no such service and that it was impossible to block calls. I told them it was on their web site, they put the phone down.
I called back and got a different person. This operator said that it is possible, but only from the phone. They helpfully confirmed that it would not be possible from my phone. I told them that they should make a note of the number and perhaps investigate it – after all, somebody is targeting the Orange network and they have a responsibility to protect their customers. Don’t they?
The operator sounded exasperated and repeated the advice that my handset would not be able to block the calls. I told him I understood this and asked him why Orange appeared to be so disinterested in protecting their customers. He put me on hold and conferred with his supervisor. After several minutes he came back and said that they would make a note of the complaint and pass it up to management, following with the line “Is there anything else I can do for you today?”
Resisting the temptation to point out that they had actually done nothing so far to help me today, I asked him why he had omitted to take down the number if he was going to pass the complaint to management. I suggested that I might not look so favourably on Orange as a provider even though I’ve been a customer for over ten years, if nothing was done about this problem.
Reluctantly, he took down the number and promised somebody would call me back. They didn’t.
So there is a computer, somewhere in the Czech republic furiously dialling numbers on the Orange network, basically stealing money from the unwary. Orange quite clearly couldn’t care less. And then the penny dropped. How stupid of me – it’s the Big Society. If I want something done about this I’ll have to do it myself. Well the first thing I’m going to do is to add the numbers to my address book and set it to direct all calls straight to the answering machine. Now why couldn’t Orange have suggested that?