Helen Martin: Land-line needs disengaged tone

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THE last job before I leave for work in the morning is to unplug the land-line phone. Its shrill ringing immediately sets the dog howling which, at first, we thought was cleverness on his part, alerting us to the call.

Then it dawned on us that perhaps he just hated the noise. Still, as most people would sensibly call when they knew we’d be home from work, we figured he was probably all right during the day.

But then the number of repeated, automated, nuisance calls urging us to take up an insulation offer, take action on payment protection insurance or enter a “competition” for a new kitchen, increased to alarming levels and I realised the dog would be pestered out of his wits with no-one to answer the phone before the message system intervened and put him out of his misery.

I was right. Now I come home, plug the phone back in, and there are between three and five messages every single day, all unwanted.

We are signed up with the telephone preference service which is supposed to stop cold calls. It doesn’t. Not only have they continued unabated, but so too have the scam calls.

The caller asks for me by name. I can just make it out over the hound of the Baskervilles racket in the hall. “Yes, this is she, but we don’t accept cold calls . . .”

Before I can go any further the very persistent lady from the sub-continent says: “This is not a cold call. We are a utility supplier. I am calling from Microsoft because your pc is showing up as having been infected with many viruses . . .”

I put the phone down because it is a scam, a very old one.

Once we saw the funny side. We used to ask rogue callers if they had an appointment, tell them they couldn’t speak to my husband because he was “currently in a meeting with the archbishop” or “on a fraud squad stake out”. Blowing a whistle down the line was quite effective – but still they persisted with their invasion of our home, privacy and leisure time.

Also on the increase are the calls from charity fundraisers – many of whom are actually pushy sub-contracted call centres. Children’s charities, animal charities, overseas aid and crisis charities, specific disease charities, research charities . . . all intent on making me feel callous for not ­supporting their particular cause no matter how many I have already signed up to and for how much.

Everyone in the family has a mobile phone so I have now realised that we are paying our land-line telephone bill simply to be bombarded by these calls from people we don’t know, don’t want to speak to, who are trying to, one way or another, get money and to boot, who irritate our dog.

I’ll have to check the terms of the contract. I’ll have to inform my dear old auntie and other friends and family that they will have to pay more for ringing me on my mobile in future. But the land-line has to go. I may ceremonially destroy the phone itself – on a funeral pyre made out of junk mail. But that’s another story. . .

Firm clearly far off mark

FAMILIES in Edinburgh are stuck living in “flats” because they can’t afford to “trade up to a terrace or semi” said a survey by a property search engine. Tenement tradition, size and values clearly elude the firm which is based in

. . . Middlesex.

Technology has terrible toll for children’s sight

OPTICIANS are reporting a massive increase in non-inherited childhood short-sightedness and say the speed of deterioration can only be explained by the use of PCs, tablets, laptops and smart phones, so much so the condition is now being dubbed “screen-sightedness”

Not that we’ll do anything about it, being so locked in to technology. As the saying goes, there are none so blind as those who will not see.

Cancers can only ever be survived

IF there is one thing that really irritates those who have, or have had, breast cancer or I suppose, any other type of cancer, it is the inappropriate use by newspapers (including this one occasionally) of the words “battle” and “beat”

Pharmaceutical companies, scientists, charities and surgeons, might “battle” or “beat” in a professional way with research, the money to fund it and great expertise. But other than doing what they’re told and taking the medicine, the patient can do neither – that’s precisely what’s so scary about it. It is also offensive to those who have lost someone to the disease, suggesting they somehow didn’t put up enough of a fight.

We “came through” or “survived” breast cancer. We didn’t “battle” or “beat” it.

Stop West End road meddling

AS a result of the trams, pedestrianisation attempts and the mess that’s been made of the city centre traffic flow, the West End and its once popular shops and restaurants have been cut off to confused motorists who, after so many changes, no longer know how to traverse their own city.

Hopes are pinned on the council putting that right with re-routing – again – this week. We can only cross our fingers that maybe, this time, they’ll get it right and stop meddling with it.