How many times have you hung up the phone on a telemarketer, pollster or other unwanted cold-caller interrupting your dinner and thought, “I wish I could charge them for annoying me and wasting my time”?
Lee Beaumont of Leeds, England, did more than just think. He’s doing it.
As reported Wednesday by BBC Radio 4’s show, “You and Yours”, in November 2011, Beaumont paid the 10 pounds ($15.50) plus tax it took to change his ordinary land line to a 0871 line — similar to what U.S. consumers will be more familiar with, a 900 number.
Now, it costs 10 pence (15 cents) a minute to call him, and he receives 70 percent of the proceeds. Since setting up the 0871 number, whenever a company has asked him for his information online, that’s the contact number he has entered. His earnings so far: Just over 300 pounds — more than $465.
He told the radio hosts that he’s totally honest and up-front when businesses and callers ask why his home phone has a premium-rate number: He was tired of getting an excessive number of calls from a few specifically British varieties of telemarketer. And for friends and family, he has a different line.
According to the BBC, the British regulator for premium numbers “strongly discouraged people from adopting the idea” and following in Beaumont’s footsteps due to regulations that could lead to those consumers getting fined.
(Interestingly, the 0871 phone number isn’t the only fiscally unusual move Beaumont has made — or even the wildest. On one of his blogs, How I Live My Life, he details how he’s cutting back on his expenses by, among other things, living without a working boiler or gas in his home — for a year.)
Sadly, in this country, it’s apparently more complex and costly to get a personal phone number that pays you. Between the federal regulations and the price tag charged by the phone companies (way more than $15) … well, unless you’re launching your 900 number as a real business venture, it’s probably not worth it.
But that doesn’t mean we can’t dream. And applaud.