Kebab shop boss Mohammad Soltan fears his business is being destroyed by a phantom caller blocking his phone.
Hundreds of silent calls a night are preventing customers getting through to order food at the Lane Ends Takeaway in Ashton, Preston.
The calls are constant, one after the other. So most of the time anyone wanting to place an order can’t get through. It’s ruining me.Mr Soltan
“It’s costing me a fortune,” said Mr Soltan. “The calls are constant, one after the other. So most of the time anyone wanting to place an order can’t get through. It’s ruining me.”
The calls started almost two weeks ago and have kept going ever since – but only during opening hours.
“That’s the strange thing,” he said. “The phone is quiet for the rest of the day, but as soon as it reaches opening time at five o’clock they start. And they don’t stop until after we’ve closed at midnight. It’s driving me mad and it’s driving a lot of our customers away.”
Mr Soltan’s first thought was sabotage by a rival. He called in the police, but they suggested the nuisance could simply be a technical problem, possibly caused by an automated call centre system somewhere in the world.
His service provider Axis For Business, based in Hull, suspect a similar fault on a predictive dialler system which automatically calls random numbers. But Mr Soltan is not so sure. “If that was the case then surely the phone would be ringing all day and all night,” he insisted. “But these calls are only during opening hours, as if someone is waiting for the takeaway to open before starting to ring.
“Whatever the reason it is destroying my business. Takings are well down because customers must be giving up trying to get through and going elsewhere.”
David Myers, managing director of Axis, said: “It could be sabotage, although it’s more likely to be a technical issue. We’re sending Mr Soltan a call-blocking device free of charge to see if that will solve the problem.”