Don’t call us…

When the phone rings just as Lena Philipsson is about to start gyrating with her microphone on Allsång på Skansen, it's bound to be someone trying to flog you fetching new underwear. This may be why the country's 'no call register' has doubled in length in the past year. DN reported on Wednesday that 5,000 people are signing up every week, but people not on the register are getting more calls than ever.

“Telesales are on the up, there’s no doubt about it,” said Philip Cohen from the Swedish Call Centre Association. But while most telesales might be no more than mildly irritating, Stockholm Council’s consumer watchdog claims that some companies are using telesales to trick people out of their hard-earned crowns.

Consumer adviser Claes Löfgren told DN that one company is calling up offering people free socks, yet people find out later that they have automatically subscribed to receive further sock deliveries – which they have to pay for. The council’s consumer advice bureau reacted by releasing a press release saying that telesales should be stopped. But the centre-right Moderate Party claimed that this is an unwarranted interference in business, and that the arguments being used are over-simplified.

Salespeople weren’t the only unwelcome callers this week. Phone directory firm Eniro has made some powerful enemies after listing the addresses of people who had asked to remain ex-directory. According to DN, rich businessmen are among those to have found their addresses online. Peter Wallenberg, one of the wealthiest men in Sweden – and who narrowly escaped kidnap by a Russian gang in 1993 – had the address of his Stockholm-area estate listed on the net.

The problem began when Eniro decided to list mobile numbers. People whose home phones were ex-directory did not have their mobile numbers listed either – unless the bill was footed by their company. This has meant that many of Sweden’s social workers and other state employees might also be getting midnight calls from disgruntled citizens.

Another top businessman and Moderate Party cheerleader, Gustaf Douglas, was not listed, but his wife was. Elisabeth Douglas told DN: “This is just the kind of thing you expect in a socialist country. The state, Eniro and Telia are all in it together.”