Don’t Pick up the Phone! The Death of the Landline

I hope you have all enjoyed my posts about Western Australia over the last couple of weeks, but the holiday is now over. Time for a rant. Well, I haven’t had one of those for a while.

Cold calling in Australia

PhoneI’ll get to the telephone in a minute, but let’s start with doorknocking. In the 7 or so years I’ve lived here I’ve still only had precious few people knock on my door to try and sell me something. I still reckon I can count them on the fingers of both hands. Maybe even a hand and a half.

I’ve probably had two or three charities, a couple of solar panel installers and I think Telstra, our national telephone company, have called a couple of times as well.

I put the lack of doorknocking activity down to the fact that a lot of houses in Australia, and certainly where I live, are quite spaced apart and often have very long driveways. So it can actually take quite a long time to get from one doorway to the next.

In the UK, no such problems in the vast majority of streets…

UK Housing (1)

UK Housing (3)The telephone though, now that’s different.

Every time my home phone rings it’s either some stupid idiot pretending to work for Microsoft (yeah, sure) who is going to help me fix my computer. Or somebody asking if I have claimed my solar panel rebate yet?

Or it’s, or it’s, actually, I don’t know who else it might be because these days I NEVER EVER ANSWER MY LANDLINE.


Australian telemarketers

Telemarketing is alive and well and, it seems, an extremely busy activity here in Australia as I’m sure it is wherever you live. Skimming Google I saw it mentioned somewhere that the average Australian receives 8.5 telemarketing calls a week, but that statistic came from back in 2008. It’s probably much worse now.

I don’t get that many, but I do get around three or four a week. I shouldn’t get any at all, because I am on the…

Do Not Call Register

Operated by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) the register is this simple.

Tell them the type of telephone number you wish to register…

Do Not Call RegisterPop in your details…

Do Not Call Register detailsAnd then list your numbers…

Do Not Call Register numbersYou will then simply need to confirm those details are all correct on the next page and then wait for the activation link you’ll received by email. Click on that and it’s all set up.

It is well worth registering your home phone, it will reduce the number of telemarketing calls you get. To register, visit

Some callers are exempt from this though…

  • registered charities
  • educational institutions
  • government bodies
  • registered political parties
  • independent members of parliament
  • political candidates

Heavy fines apply

I knew there were some hefty fines for ignoring the Do Not Call Register, but I wanted to know exactly how much. As I searched for an answer, I came across one of those ‘you couldn’t write it‘ stories.

First though, the answer to my question appears to be that ACMA can impose a maximum fine of $170,000 per day, but if a company is a persistent offender and is then taken to Federal Court, that could go up to $1.7 million per day.


Now for that ‘you couldn’t write it‘ moment.

The second-biggest fine ever issued by ACMA was $110,000 to a company called Service Stream Solutions who provide call centre services to other organisations and agencies.

Guess what else they do?

They operate the Do Not Call Register on behalf of the ACMA.

No, you couldn’t write it. But if you do want to read the full story, you can over at

In our house though, the landline is dead. If we didn’t need it to connect to the Internet, we wouldn’t have it at all. If somebody calls us and they really do have something important to say, they can always leave a message on the answerphone or, if they know us, they can do what everybody else does.

Call us on our mobiles.

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{ 16 comments… add one }
  • Theo October 26, 2017, 12:15 pm |

    True about the landline…
    I was wondering weather there has been any research on whether people are more likely to answer an unknown landline number vs an unknown mobile number in Australia?

    • BobinOz October 26, 2017, 7:09 pm |

      Not that I’m aware of, but I don’t answer unknown numbers whether they are to my landline or my mobile. If the caller is genuine, they can leave a message. They hardly ever do though, which suggests to me that not answering is the right thing to do.

      • Ozimandias October 26, 2017, 10:01 pm |

        I get spoofed caller ID calls on a weekly basis. It all started after a trip to the UK. Firstly, it would be a call obviously from the UK, then it became landlines in Australia and finally int he last few years, local mobiles.

        In all cases the following applies. If not answered, there is no message left. If answered, it either results in an engaged tone or after about half a second, a beep follows, denoting a recording is about to occur, of your voice, without any introduction. A few times, when someone is actually there, it is an east asian or south east asian accent offerering a financial product or stating that I have signed up to a financial product. In all cases so far, there is gabbling in the background, which to me indicates a cublicle far,. When asked for the company name, location and ABN, it is my experience the clearly Asian person states their company os based in the UK.

        This is interesting, as I am not.

        There will come the day that the tables will be turned by an phone IT entrepreneur to force all calls through an app which filters out these asiatic phone spamming scammers, hopefully, reverse charging their company!

        • Ozimandias October 26, 2017, 10:45 pm |

          can I add, if I am in the sin bin or relegated to the naughty corner, as may be the case for noting the clear and consistent ethnicity of the spammers, that I rang them back, validating all rules of thumb. That is, when answered it is always an east asian or south east asian, typically friendly, with evidence of being in a cubicle farm.

          That is if it is answered. For local spoofed mobiles, you ring it back and you get a reforded message that the phone number called is disconnected. If it rings, there is elevator music and a long fruitless wait, a hiding to nothing.

          It is no more racist pointing this clear fact out than it is to note the obvious email scam with Nigerians. It is simply a case of being aware that not all callers are friendly. They can be thieves!

          • BobinOz October 30, 2017, 6:19 pm |

            No sin bin for you, but I will say that in my opinion a good percentage of these calls, when I used to pick up the phone anyway, were from Australians working for charities here. If I’m not mistaken, charities do not need to comply with the ‘do not call’ register so they can phone who they like.

  • Tom Kent August 10, 2015, 2:12 pm |

    I used to work for Service Stream doing Vodafone Directory Service (nb – they do not do that now – they lost that contract). I can verify that Yes, they do the DNCR and that YES, they suck big-time. They are now a much smaller company.

    And I never answer my landline either, just as Bob says.

    • BobinOz August 10, 2015, 10:38 pm |

      There you go, confirmed from the inside. Thanks Tom, Bob

  • Ronny May 13, 2015, 4:03 pm |

    Ooooops…. I just realized you did write a few posts about telephone… all my apologies.

  • Ronny May 13, 2015, 12:58 am |


    I’m not living in Oz (yet) but I had to call from France to an aussie mobile. I was surprised it was (relatively) inexpensive. For 40 minutes talking I had to pay like 8 euros (11.5 AUD). If I had to call with my mobile from France to France (off the flat-rate communications) it would cost 6 euros… So I find calling 15.000 Km away for 33% more I would have to pay for next door, is inexpensive.

    By the way Bob, did you make any post about this ? I mean about phone tariffs and much more interesting about Internet and its speed ?

  • djmcbell May 12, 2015, 8:20 pm |

    I get a fair few cold-callers (or spammers) on my land line (as well as my mobile, and my two business mobiles which have numbers that have never been given to anyone outside the company).

    I do expect calls from various people on my land line and mobile, and it’s a big company so I always answer my business mobiles as you never know who it is (we also work for some government sites so a “private” or “unknown” number is still to be answered).

    It usually goes along the lines of…

    Them – “Hi, I’m ringing about the recent road accident you were involved in within the last three years.”

    (note – I haven’t been involved in a road accident in the last three years)

    Me – “Oh, what happened?”

    Them – “I don’t know, I don’t have the details on file but I do know you’re eligible for compensation.”

    Me – “What’s my name?”

    Them – “I don’t know, I don’t have that on file.”

    Me – “What if I told you I caused the accident?”

    Them – “You’re still able to claim compensation. We just need some bank details from you.”

    Me – “I haven’t been in an accident in the last three years.”

    Them – “Oh, well maybe it was someone else in your household.”

    Me – “Could it have been my son?”

    Them – “Yeah, it does seem to say it was a younger male driving.”

    Me – “My son who is one year old?”

    I can lead them on for a while. I’m still waiting for the Microsoft “we’ve noticed your computer is running slow” one. As an IT person, it should be interesting.

    What is annoying though are the PPI ones. I get in from work and check the land line answer machine to find they leave about 2/3 pre-recorded “customers of Barclays, Natwest and HSBC are eligible for thousands of pounds compensation” daily.

    God help the next cold-caller who physically calls me… I’m feeling suitably evil now.

    • BobinOz May 12, 2015, 8:38 pm |

      A dear friend of mine from back in England used to have great fun with telemarketers trying to sell him double glazing. After they had done their opening spiel about their double glazing they would finally get to the point and say something like “so, have you considered installing double glazing in your place?”

      At this stage my friend would announce a very strong desire to have double glazing installed, explaining just how cold it would get in the winter, how expensive his heating bills were, that the windows did need replacing anyway and then he would even get into sizes and measurements to try and get a rough idea of the cost.

      He could keep them on the phone for 20 minutes or so, maybe more, showing so much enthusiasm that at some point the telemarketer would say “would you like me to send around one of our representatives to organise your double glazing installation for you?”

      At which point he would say “yes, that would be great, but is not actually my place. Let me have a word with the Council to see if they’re prepared to pay for this for me.”

      I don’t know why, but that sort of thing gave him a lot of fun 🙂

      • Save May 15, 2015, 8:15 pm |

        Splendid stuff, my father used to do the exact same thing. I do it myself when I can spare the time but I seem
        to be rung when I’m eating or in the shower etc

  • Snoskred May 12, 2015, 6:09 pm |

    We are about to disconnect our landline, once the NBN is installed, which is apparently the moment our lives will become awesome, or something. 🙂

    The amount of billions being spent on the NBN is nearly 40 billion dollars of taxpayers money, so I fully expect to be able to download things I’ll be taken to court for downloading at enormously fast speeds! What a great idea this was, when it was going to cost 4.7 billion dollars via Kevin07. Or not. 🙂

    • BobinOz May 12, 2015, 8:28 pm |

      I really don’t care if it ends up costing $80 billion, I want one of those NBN things and I want one now!

      Unfortunately, those in charge of burying the cables have no idea whether my suburb even exists yet, let alone have any plans to pop over with their shovels anytime soon.

      Lucky, lucky you 🙂

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