Belfast Telegraph

Why it might just be time to hang up for good on my neglected landline

By Claire Harrison

I have no idea when I last answered my landline at home and found a sensible, or welcome, caller at the other end. With the rapid advance of communications technology and social media has come the death of the old-fashioned home telephone.

In our house, you never hear the voice of a friend, or relative, ringing for a bit of a chat. It is now the sole preserve of aggressive charity fundraisers, someone wanting to reclaim my long-lost PPI payments or, our favourite, the Windows scammers

Sometimes I don't answer (if it involves sprinting down the stairs), sometimes I answer to tell them where to go and sometimes I answer if I am bored and feel like having some fun.

My husband loves to deal with the "Microsoft Windows" scammers, who claim they are ringing because our computer is infected and must be fixed immediately. He can keep them on there for hours.

"Which of my 10 computers is it?" he likes to ask. "All 10! Well, thank goodness you called. Let's get started ... "

He pretends to follow their instructions, taking his time until the crucial moment arrives when he has to read out his bank details, for fixing 10 devices doesn't come cheap.

He starts with the card's long number which turns out to be a really, really long number that goes on randomly and seemingly infinitely until the fake Windows man finally puts the phone down.

I like to have my fun, too, when time allows, no less when a survey company recently called wanting to profile my household.

So I spent the next 10 minutes making up the persona of a woman called Karen who is much younger than me, earns a magnificent salary and has no children and oodles of disposable income. Afterwards, I forgot all about the lucky, loaded Karen – until the number of cold calls we were getting ramped up from lots to incessant. And, most interestingly, all of them were looking for Karen.

"There's no one here of that name," I said, truthfully, umpteen times one day. It was finally a poor woman representing a charity who got me when it proved too much.

"I don't know who this woman is! Can you please stop calling this number. How many times can one person be expected to answer the phone for someone who doesn't even exist? Remove this number from your database and make sure no-one from whoever it is you represent rings it again. I don't need to make a bloody PPI claim and I don't have a broken computer and I haven't been injured in an accident that was someone else's fault," I ranted.

"Well, actually I'm ringing from a charity," she said, giving me its name. "But I do apologise and I promise we'll remove your number, you won't hear from us again."

I felt guilty for being so short with a volunteer, but I also did wonder how this well-known national charity had come across Karen's information. I haven't heard from them since, but I'm still getting tortured by others.

Which then begs the question – why do we need a landline if no one of worth ever rings it? I think I'm just old-fashioned in feeling we should have one, but I'm now thoroughly fed up.

Ofcom has some great advice on its website on how to cut down on nuisance calls which I'm pursuing. If that doesn't work, I've decided I'll be pulling the plug because, in reality, the good old home phone isn't under threat from advancing technology – it's the telemarketers and scammers that will be the real death of it.

Now Neil’s in fix over his Bob job

Bob The Builder is getting on a bit after 16 years of singing about house renovations. So TV bosses have decided to give him a makeover, ditching Neil Morrissey as his distinctive voice and making Bob look like a significantly younger model.

Morrissey — who's been Bob since they topped the charts in the late-Nineties — hasn't said what he thinks of getting pushed off the job early. But he's been retweeting criticism, hinting that he's not too impressed.

The main question for Bob's legion of young fans is: can the new guy fix it? Even if it wasn't broken in the first place?

A big thumbs-up for Facebook boss

It's easy to be cynical about multi-millionaire celebs taking time out of their pampered lifestyles to help the unfortunate while a photographer is on hand.

(UN Ambassador Posh Spice springs to mind after releasing pics of her cuddling a baby in Soweto, a baby that could be fed for a year for the price of one of VB's frocks).

But I'm going to put my cynicism to one side for Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, who has donated $25m (£15.7m) to a charity fighting the spread of Ebola. Yes, $25m.

Now where's the ‘like’ button for that?

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