A savvy consumer annoyed at being cold called has turned the table on the firms ringing him by charging THEM every time they call.
Fed-up Lee Beaumont, 25, found himself inundated with PPI firms and other cold callers ringing him on his landline.
So he decided to fight back against the irritating situation by making them pay to speak to him.
The entrepreneurial young man looked into swapping his regional dialing code for an 0871 number and now cashes in every time he is cold called.
He said: “I was getting annoyed at the PPI calls I was constantly getting so I thought there must be a way to make money out of them.
“I decided I would get an ‘08’ number and realised if I had an ‘0871’ number they would be charged 10p a minute.
“Out of this I get to keep 9p for every minute so I phoned up all of my service providers and told them I would be changing my number.
“This was in 2011 and I’ve made £300 from it.”
Lee, from Leeds, runs his own e-commerce business ‘TOFS Web Hosting’, and paid #10 +VAT for the 0871 number, only sharing his regional landline with two people.
He says the PPI calls have now dried up but he continues to make a few quid each month from utilities firms ringing up to sell their products.
Lee added: “Companies ring me up and the first thing they ask is ‘why do you have an 0871 number?’
“I tell them it is so I can make money out of them. NPower were particularly annoyed and wouldn’t call me. They’d keep emailing me but I’d tell them to call me.
“Eventually they gave in but I have left them now and they regularly call me asking them to rejoin.
“I actually want to be cold called now. I’d definitely recommend everyone to do it, it definitely stops the PPI calls.”
His decision to have an 0871 number to fend off PPI callers was first revealed on the forums of the consumer website which.co.uk.
But premium number regulator Phone Pay Plus warned against other members of the public doing the same thing.
They told BBC Radio 4: “Premium-rate numbers are not designed to be used in this way and we would strongly discourage any listeners from adopting this idea, as they will be liable under our code for any breaches and subsequent fines that result.”
Lee’s ingenious plan to make money from cold callers was described as “brilliant” by the UK’s entrepreneur of the year.
Colin Stevens, who founded Better Bathrooms by selling taps at his mum’s house, praised Lee for his innovative idea.
He said: “His idea is brilliant, I think he could actually change the whole industry. It’s a good idea and a bad idea.
“On one hand it’s great for people but it might be bad for the cold calling companies whose charges will go up.”
Mr Stevens, 33, started Better Bathrooms in Wigan as a 21-year-old and was awarded the National Business Awards’ Entrepreneur of the Year award in 2012
He added: “Lee has seen an opportunity and taken it, I think it is brilliant.
“Lee thought about the idea, invested the money to start it, had a go and has pulled it off with a great margin.
“There is bit of genius in the idea and that is what being an entrepreneur is all about.”