It was only a matter of time before this happened - another unfortunate collision of technology with the telephone. I got a call at home at about 19:30 from a company on the pretext of asking about satellite dishes. Nothing strange about that, other than the fact that the number called is registered with the Telephone Preference Service (TPS), which is meant to stop unsolicited telemarketing calls. And the voice at the other end was a recording played by a computer. That was more worrying, especially when my silence at its first question (did I receive satellite TV through a dish) was met with a "Hello, hello are you still there?" before the machine cut the call off.
One of the things that puts a limit on how many cold calls you get comes down to the cost of paying people to talk to supposedly potential customers. That has become a major factor as the cost of placing calls has shrunk rapidly. With a computer doing all of the work, suddenly the marginal cost of placing each call plummets, even compared with farming out those jobs to low-wage countries. Letting computers call people without your expressed permission is something that needs to be stopped. In principle, it is already illegal in the UK. But that is not what Data Partnership Solutions of East Sussex believes.