Personally, and this is totally my own honest opinion, I cannot see how the original call (here) was not in fact from them - I see no motivation for someone to impersonate them. The call seemed to be trying to use "tricks" to be a survey rather than even a lead generation call and even had the caller stating he would give my details to other companies. None of that shit works (well it does not really work anyway) if you are not actually calling from the company you say you are in the first place. However, in the interests of fairness, and understanding how things like this can be frustrating for those impacted, I have to re-iterate that the call was apparently not in fact from Verso Group (UK) Ltd, according to the man calling and claiming to be from Verso Group (UK) Ltd. I may yet get the call traced though if this goes any further. I hope this post is the end of it.
Now this is where the fun starts.
My employer started getting hassled (no other word for it) with a couple of emails and several calls, all claiming to be from Verso Group (UK) Ltd, and one particular director (that I won't name here today). They start (in email) asserting the call recording must be removed as it is confidential. Then (in calls) they insist it was not them calling. We try to call back several times and are told this gentleman* is in meetings or on a call. I tied up quite a lot of our company solicitor's time on this as legal threats were made against my employer in emails and calls, and even a "threat" to come to the office, which we welcomed and waited all day for.
To be clear, my employer are not involved. They do not host my blog and I do not post here or on social media in an official capacity. The call was to my home number. Oddly, to my wife's number (more on that later).
I have posted links to these blog posts on twitter automatically, and even a comment that we tried to call back mentioning the person that called the office. Several others have commented on twitter too.
Then, on the 10th, I get a call from Bedfordshire Police Crime Bureau advising that this person, who is a director of Verso Group (UK) Ltd (as I understand it), has called them alleging that I am harassing him on twitter!
Note this call was also to my wife's number, one I never publish as associated with me, so where did the police get it? I am asking them. The same number as the junk call definitely not made from Verso Group (UK) Ltd.
First off - no actual official complaint has been made to the police (phew!) - we are a week later and the police have confirmed that. They also confirmed the call I got was genuine, and I am working on getting permission to publish the recording...
But it got me thinking - I have not looked at the Protection from Harassment Act 1997 in any details before. Could I have been harassing someone without realising it?
For a start I am not 100% sure what "harassment" means. I may post on twitter to make a point, or further a discussion. I have no intention to "harass" anyone. The definition in the Act does include causing "alarm" and "distress". The problem is that I am reading this legislation like an engineer and not a lawyer. We do not always come to the same conclusions :-)
I cannot find a requirement for "intent" in there, which is a shame, just that I should know it ought to be harassment of another, and the test is that a reasonable person would know that if they knew all the facts. Given the level of religion and mental ill health in society, finding a "reasonable" person may be hard. But oddly, "intent" is not in there. So I could be harassing someone unintentionally.
However, there is some light at the end of this, my "conduct" would also have to be "unreasonable". Naturally I don't think I am ever unreasonable. There is also allowance for preventing or detecting crime. The junk calls, are they a crime? Certainly unlawful, so maybe.
It is also good that you can only harass an individual, and not a company. The Act makes that clear. All posts about Verso Group (UK) Ltd, even if they are harassment, would be of a company and not an individual.
The other caveat is that one has to do it twice. To make it an offence you need a "course of conduct" which, for one person, is twice at least.
This raises some interesting points for social media, like twitter or even my blog. I state on my blog, and expect in other social media, that if I do harass or otherwise offend people, I expect them to "block me". Social media allows that. So if I "upset" you once, you block me, so the second time cannot be upsetting you. Would a "reasonable person" think the same? That would make all but the most convoluted social media "harassment" non existent, surely? I can see some blocking on twitter for this particular gentleman*.
Anyway, someone has not had the nerve to follow through and actually make an official report against me. I almost want him to - as that would be wasting police time, and would also give me a good excuse to get the original call traced.
Even so, is this really the way a reputable company handles complaints? Accuse people of harassment and report them to the police. I think not.
The offer is open for a meeting at our offices resolve this - that makes this blog post more than "reasonable" and not harassment.
What I do take from this is that one cannot harass a company!
* I say gentleman but he is listed as "Ms" not "Mr" on some company check sites, as several people have pointed out on twitter.