Sick of telemarketers, British man registers home line as premium-rate number

A 25-year old British man who became sick of telemarketers calling him at home and trying to sell insurance and other unwanted products has found a unique way to make them pay for their disturbing his peace.

In 2011, for a one-off fee of just £10, Lee Beaumont registered his home line as a premium-rate number, for which he receives income of 7p per minute that anyone calls it. He’s kept his old phone number – which he uses to call friends and family – but the new premium number has been picked up by telemarketing databases.

The net result is that since setting up the new line, Beaumont has earned a total of £300 from receiving telemarketing calls – not a princely sum, but a tidy profit on his investment, and a creative way of taking revenge on the marketers that disturb his TV-viewing time in the evening.

Speaking to his local newspaper, Beaumont explained that he was inspired to take action after the amount of telemarketing calls he was receiving kept rising. “I was getting peed off with getting [telemarketing] calls when I was trying to watch TV,” Beaumont said. “Originally I got the 08 number to get them to stop. But when I started making money I thought ‘this is better’.”

Now, whenever a telemarketer calls him, it costs them 10p a minute – and Beaumont keeps 70% of that. The move did reduce the amount of telemarketing calls he received, but he mentioned that in an average month he still earns about £7. With the line only having cost him £10 to set up, it quickly became a profitable as well as satisfying venture.

One unexpected outcome of installing the line was that the story generated a lot of publicity – and that then saw an increase in the number of calls Beaumont was receiving. Because the journalists were all calling his premium line, Beaumont started to make money from those calls, as well. “Over the last three days I’ve had literally hundreds [of calls].” Beaumont said.

To encourage more telemarketers to call the premium line, Beaumont explained how he updated all his electricity and gas account details with the new number. Many telemarketers purchase customer details from these companies, and as a result they automatically updated their databases with the new premium number.

While the majority of telemarketers don’t pay any attention to the fact that Beaumont has a premium line, some have asked him about it. “I am honest and say it’s so I make 10p per minute when companies call me.”

However, a British phone regulator has cautioned others from following in Beaumont’s footsteps. “Premium rate numbers are not designed to be used in this way and we would strongly discourage any readers from adopting this idea, as they will be liable under our code for any breaches and subsequent fines that result,” a spokesman said.

Despite the warning, Beaumont has no planes to decommission his premium number, and is certainly enjoying a financial benefit from his arrangement. “Time is money, as they say,” he said. “If they want to call me up at home and waste my time, then it’s only fair they pay to do that.”