I am not a phone person. I don’t enjoy talking on the phone and avoid tasks that involve it. Even my oldest child used to complain that I never called her when she was away at school. What college kid makes that kind of complaint? I think the reason I dislike phone conversations is that I like to read people when I am speaking with them. If I can see their facial expressions and their body language, I am much more comfortable communicating with them.
Of course, I realize that phones are a necessary part of modern life and a useful way to stay in touch. But lately, I am finding myself annoyed by the number of unsolicited calls I receive on my home phone. With the widespread use of cell phones, many households no longer even have a landline. But for certain reasons, our family still needs one. The problem is that these days we receive very few personal calls on this landline. Instead we get a daily barrage of political calls, sales pitches, and solicitations for charitable donations. Thanks to another technological innovation, Caller ID, I know when not to pick up the phone. Yet the constant ringing of our phone gets so irritating that my husband just unplugs it half the time.
When I heard about the National Do Not Call Registry, I was thrilled. Here was an official way to eliminate the myriad solicitations by phone we had been receiving. We dutifully signed up for the registry, but that act has barely made a dent in the number of unwanted calls we receive. One reason for this is that numerous organizations are exempt from the requirement to honor the Do Not Call list. These include charities, nonprofits, and political entities, which comprise the vast majority of the annoying calls we receive on a daily basis. And even if we do get 20 calls a week from Glamour Services (which is, inexplicably, a window-washing service), I don’t take the time to report the breach to the National Do Not Call Registry’s website. Scammers also love to call and warn us, for instance, that if we do not pay our taxes, the IRS is coming to get us. I’m pretty sure we have no taxable income, though, because we have sent all our money to someone in Nigeria who needs our help.
This brings me to another thing that puzzles me about all these phone solicitations. Does anyone actually respond by buying goods or services over the phone? Do people actually give their credit card information to strangers claiming to be collecting money for some charity? In the old days, when I answered these calls, I would ask the solicitor to send me something in the mail to which I could respond. Very often, they were unable or unwilling to do so. Telemarketing just seems to be a massive waste of time and money to me.
To make matters worse, I have started receiving calls from unknown callers on my cell phone. This appears to be the new frontier in telemarketing. But I have advice for anyone I don’t know who wants to reach me: DO NOT CALL. I won’t pick up. Unless, of course, you’re George Clooney. Be sure to indicate that on your Caller ID.