Brits are a Nation of Eavesdroppers

  • Over 80 per cent of Brits admit to eavesdropping on other people’s phone conversations while on a train or platform
  • Nearly 9 in 10 think that people have no reservations while talking on the phone in public
  • 60 per cent of Brits think people would benefit from some kind of etiquette guide when it comes to talking on the phone whilst using public transport
  • O2, whose TU Go app allows people to make calls and send texts over Wi-Fi, has produced the very first public transport mobile phone etiquette guide to help Brits use their phone considerately

New research released today by O2 reveals we are a nation of eavesdroppers, with 84 per cent of people admitting to listening in on their fellow commuters’ phone conversations while on a train or platform.

The discussions taking place can be so intriguing that six out of ten (59 per cent) Brits would rather eavesdrop than listen to music or read. Furthermore, 10 per cent of respondents have actually missed their stop because they were so engrossed in what they were overhearing.

Download TU Go for free at o2.co.uk/apps/tu-go
Available for O2 Pay Monthly and Business customers

O2 commissioned the survey to help the UK use apps such as TU Go, which enables O2 customers to text, call and check your voicemail over Wi-Fi without the need for phone signal, in a considerate and responsible manner. The survey revealed that callers often unwittingly reveal some of the most intimate details of their lives to perfect strangers around them – everything from the details of their salary through to their personal lives.

Top 5 phone conversations most likely to be overheard

  1. Discussing work gossip or salary (48 per cent)
  2. Closing an important business deal (35 per cent)
  3. Talking about hospital or doctor results (23 per cent)
  4. Relationship breakups (17 per cent)
  5. Intimate details of their personal life (13 per cent)

As a result of overhearing something they shouldn’t have, almost three quarters (74 per cent) of people admitted to sharing the conversation with their friends, with 40 per cent going as far as publishing a social media post revealing the details.

Despite this, a small but significant attention-seeking 6 per cent of people actually like the idea that other people can overhear their conversations. Only 14 per cent decide to ask their caller to call them back to avoid having to talk loudly on the train, while three quarters (75 per cent) decide to take the call regardless.

Consequently, 88 per cent of the British public believe that people have no shame while talking on the phone, and 3 out of 5 Brits (60 per cent) believe we would benefit from some form of etiquette being put in place regarding phone use on public transport.

“Thanks to the latest technology we’re now able to make use of our phone in more places than ever before, including on the underground,” said Nina Bibby, O2’s Marketing and Consumer Director. “This often means that people are having both personal and professional conversations within earshot of lots of other people, so we thought we’d offer them a helping hand by suggesting some simple and easy tips for when on the phone in public.”

As a result of the findings, O2 has worked with Etiquette Consultant, William Hanson, to offer ten helpful tips on how to use your phone considerately when on public transport:

  1. Consider Your Ringtone
    Think about what your ringtone says about you. ‘Let it Go’ going off every two minutes is going to grate very quickly
  2. Remember Everyone Can Hear You
    No one wants to hear the intricate details of your love life
  3. Volume is Key
    The Dom Joly character should remain confined to the show’s DVDs and not appear in real life
  4. Use Hands-Free At Your Peril
    Brace yourself for other passengers to think you are talking to them
  5. One Thing At A Time
    Avoid carrying luggage whilst using your phone – you’ll get in everyone’s way!
  6. Consider Other Calls
    Avoid being in close proximity to others making calls. Move away to avoid confusing conversations
  7. Steer Clear of Announcers
    Unless your caller wants a service update, move away from speakers
  8. Mind The Doors
    Keep aware of your surroundings, it is dangerous when people stand obliviously in front of the doors
  9. Store It Safely
    Once you have finished your call, ensure your technology is stored safely
  10. Focus!
    As important as your conversation is, your safety trumps it

According to half (50 per cent) of Brits, teenagers have the worst reputation for talking loudly on their phone whilst on a train or platform, followed by business men (34 per cent) and drunk people (33 per cent). However, most people (56 per cent) have never asked a fellow commuter to keep the noise down while on the phone.

Tu Go enables O2 customers to use Wi-Fi to call, text and check voicemail when they don’t have signal. The app is available to download for free now for Pay Monthly and Business customers from http://www.o2.co.uk/apps/tu-go.