Company driven round bend by 30 wrong-number calls a day

MY WORD IS MY BOND... Control Networks owner Paul Howden.
MY WORD IS MY BOND... Control Networks owner Paul Howden.

WORKERS at a South Tyneside firm are being inundated by irate pensioners on the company’s telephone lines seeking financial help.

Control Networks in Mile End Road, South Shields, has been receiving between 20 to 30 calls a day for more than a week from people seeking to buy new high-interest Government bonds.

Ctrl Networks owner director Paul Howden is being inundated with pension bond calls since the scheme launched

Ctrl Networks owner director Paul Howden is being inundated with pension bond calls since the scheme launched

However, there’s one problem – the company, which provides IT support and services – has absolutely nothing to do with the bond scheme.

It’s misfortune is to have a telephone number – 500 5000 – that is almost identical to a telephone hotline number – 0500 500 000 – set up by National Savings & Investments (NS&I), which is issuing the bonds on behalf of the Government.

Anyone calling from Tyne and Wear who does not dial the initial zero on the hotline number automatically goes through to Control Networks.

Despite his phones ringing red-hot from anxious pensioners hoping to make a financial killing, company owner Paul Howden says he and his staff are “remaining patient and polite”.

He said: “We have received a high volume of calls ever since the hotline went live.

“We’re getting as many as 20 to 30 calls a day.

“The problem is that people are spending hours trying to get through to the hotline because it’s so busy, and when they finally get through to us they can get quite irate and stroppy when we explain that it’s the wrong number, and that we have nothing to do with the bond scheme.

“We have been patient and explained that we can’t help them, that we are not the right company, but sometimes people haven’t got the gist.”

Mr Howden has tried to contact NS&I to inform that company of the problem – but has been unable to get through.

He added: “There is not a lot we can do about it. It’s down to the simplicity of our number and just missing out dialling the zero puts people through to us.

“It’s not the first time this has happened.

“We had a similar problem with Gentoo some time ago.”

The new Government bonds have rates which are substantially higher than those available on equivalent bonds from banks and building societies.

Savers must be aged 65 or over to qualify and can invest online at www.nsandi.com/65plus or over the phone by calling 0500 500 000.

Twitter@shieldsgazpaul