Knock out ginger

March 04, 2005 ,

AS small boys me and my mates thought it was funny to knock on people’s doors and run away. We called it ‘knock out ginger’.
It wasn’t funny, and these days we’d be threatened with an ASBO and deserve it.

Recently I made a speech to telemarketers at Earl’s Court about my campaign to stop them making silent nuisance calls.

Regular readers of this column will know that silent calls are caused by cavalier use of automatic dialling technology.

I told the conference that they were no better than kids playing ‘knock out ginger’.

Imagine if a door to door salesman knocked at every house in a street, and went in to the first one opened, leaving anyone else who answered wondering who had knocked their door and run away.

That is exactly what these companies do when they generate silent calls.
It is telephonic ‘knock out ginger’.

Not only is it an absolute nuisance to the public, but by each individual company acting in its own self interest to maximise calls made, the industry is destroying itself.

This is an example of what American writer, Garrett Hardin, called the “Tragedy of the Commons”.

If a village has some common land it seems to be in each individual’s interest to graze as many as possible of his animals on it for free.
However if every individual were to act in that way, all that would be left is a muddy patch.

Because the public are so fed up with telephonic ‘knock out ginger’, a staggering 400,000 people a month are registering with the Telephone Preference Service to stop marketing calls on 0845 070 0707.

I told the telemarketers that soon their industry, which employs thousands, will become a muddy patch, unless they stop knocking on people’s doors and running away.