Recipients of wrong number calls required to play along

now a legal requirement to wind them up

In an effort to reduce levels of frustration in society, the think-tank Reform has proposed that people receiving misdialled calls should no longer be able to say, ‘Sorry, wrong number,’ and put the phone down, but will be required to act out the part of the person the caller had meant to ring.

Andrew Haldenby, Reform’s director, said not only would millions of wasted hours be avoided, but the NHS drugs bill for treating the effects of frustration could be reduced by billions. He said, ‘It is just not fair, when someone rings up to say they need a taxi from the war memorial, to tell them it’s three in the morning and you’re trying to get some sleep.

‘By the time you’ve argued with the caller trying to convince them that you’re not Dave’s Taxis, and they’ve rung you back several times because that’s the number they stored in their mobile, wouldn’t it be simpler and more productive for all concerned to just get the car out, give the person a lift, take £50 for it and clean the puke off the seat in the morning?’

Reform’s website cites a trial in which a wrong number call centre with 1,000 almost-right numbers was set up by members to demonstrate the viability of the initiative. Calls taken for late night pizzas and kebabs were accommodated profitably by microwaving and delivering any old rubbish from the freezer, while the sanity of Doris Bates, 87, was saved when a member had a nice chat as Amy from the club, instead of calling her a fumble-fingered old bat.

‘Of course, there have been a few teething troubles, for which we apologise,’ said Mr Haldenby. ‘We never thought that our Janice would agree to put out a statement on behalf of Visa saying they were a bunch of incompetent tossers, and waive the entire cost of a caller’s Olympic opening ceremony tickets. It was an honest mistake; she had only just finished a wrong number from a punter looking for Inexhaustible Edna.’

21st March 2010

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