Monday, April 14, 2008

Autopage MD calls

Stephen Blewett, the MD of Autopage called me this morning to apologise about the Look4Me, Look4Help issues. He told me that Autopage does not give out its customer information to anyone, and that if he catches any Autopage employee doing so he will fire them personally.
He explained to me that the call centres guess the number ranges of his and other companies, and then make calls without their knowledge. The first time they hear of the billing is when it comes from the network provider (i.e. Vodacom) as a WASP billing record. This system is full of problems, and can be abused by the WASPs. As an example of call centres guessing cell phone numbers, he told me of his wife being called to be offered a "better deal" on her phone.
Stephen also personally apologised on the HelloPeter web site.

I guess the question is why Cellfind claims to have obtained my number from Autopage and why they say they have contacted Autopage to ensure I am on their DNC list. Is it more ducking and diving? Eugenie from Autopage was also extremely doubtful that Autopage had supplied my number to Cellfind. Yet both Carla Legatt and Neil Barnard from Cellfind say it was so. Perhaps they are getting confused with who they sent the billing info to.

Update 11:30am: Andre Geboers from Digicall phoned to accept responsibility for his call centre's part in the process. They didn't check the numbers against the DMA list at the time of making the call, because they received their first list from the DMA on 1st December. They are doing checks against the DMA's list now. Because he was willing to accept personal responsibility for the call, I have dropped my demand for an advert in the Sunday Times.


Allan said...

What a load of absolute nonsense! There is no way people who work in the call centres sit around whole day making up random cell phone numbers until they get one right. Our cellular service providers obviously sell our numbers to companies that are willing to pay.

Donn Edwards said...

Actually it isn't too difficult to guess the last 4 digits of a cell phone number. You can set an autodialler to do it, and then only transfer the call to a call centre agent when the number starts ringing. The cell phone networks conveniently tell you if a number doesn't work.

So you can buy a list of numbers from a database company, and then "fill in the blanks" between the numbers given. Of course it isn't particularly ethical, but that never stopped marketers before.