Oh, those annoying and frequent telemarketing calls
We all get them. Most of us hate them. They disrupt our day, cause frustration and sometimes even result in fraud or identity theft. I’m talking about the dreaded junk calls, Robo calls, telemarketing calls or whatever moniker fits. OK, charities might get a pass. But I get up to five junk calls per day. From someone telling me I was selected for free airfare to an exotic island (but fail to tell me the catch is, I’m required to stay in one of their selected hotels at triple the cost) to low cost life insurance programs, ensuring my family has one less thing to worry about when I go to that great telemarketing-free place in the sky (which must be heaven if a phone never rings). I also get the bogus IRS calls occasionally, telling me I owe them money, asking for my credit card. If I owed them that much money, what makes them think my credit card would be good? I’ve received calls promising to relieve me of my timesharing burdens, even though I haven’t owned timesharing for ten years. That begs the question, how often do these companies purge their call lists?
Despite placing my number on the no-call list years ago, the calls continue at a frantic pace, proving that the no-call list is about as effective as a yield sign in Los Angeles traffic at rush hour.
I am now reluctant to answer my home phone at all and on the rare occasions when I do, hang up whenever there is not an immediate response to my hello. A delayed response and faint background voices are classic signs of a boiler room operation. And how about that sweet grandmotherly voice who calls, acting like she is your long-lost Meme, suggesting you are harder to get a hold of than her elusive grandson? Sorry Granny, click! Don’t like to be rude and I can understand that some folks do this for a living, but if I didn’t ask you to call me, that’s the risk you take.
Respect for privacy is a thing of the past. What gives anyone the right to disrupt my day, take me away from important work or potentially cause an injury if I rush to answer my phone for a junk call? Do they really expect someone who may be awaiting an important call, to run up a flight of stairs, nearly trip over an ottoman or pet while diving to answer the phone, to be pleasant once they discover it’s a telemarketer who is not selling anything but just want you to take a “survey?” Sorry, you are still trying to sell me something, it’s just a deceiving way of doing it.
There were several amusing telemarketing call “cures” published in a recent periodical on how to handle these pesky annoyances. Among them were: 1. Hand the phone to a two-year old, if available, to see how long the caller stays on the line; 2. Put the phone on the floor in front of your dog; 3. Pretend not to speak their language and respond accordingly. Ideally, perhaps makeup your own personal language, like Latka Gravis of Taxi fame. Anyone know Pig Latin?
The cruelest of these callers are those trying to scam the elderly or less fortunate, promising a big payday or better way of life if they only provide a charge card number. This typically leads to identity theft, causing tremendous pain to the victim and an uncertain financial future. Many of these callers represent technological experts who spend countless hours designing ways to scam the unknowing, with the ability to fool caller ID or make the number appear familiar to the victim. If only they would put that wizardry to something good, this world would be a much better place.
Despite their persistent and disruptive nature, telemarketing calls will continue, with little legal recourse. But in the meantime, we certainly have the option of just not answering, or using voicemail.
Wait, is that my phone I hear ringing again?
Don Canney is a longtime Nashua resident and occasional columnist for The Telegraph.