Friday, 10 January 2020 17:19

COLUMN: Ranting on robocalls

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If I have already done a column on this particular topic, please forgive me. I try my best not to repeat anything, but it's inevitable that I repeat a phrase, a sentence, or possibly a whole topic. I used to be able to access the previous columns where I stored them on the laptop, but my trusty old laptop bit the dust and I cannot access my archives. That said, I ask your forgiveness if I have broached this subject before. 

I am one of many who have fallen victim to the incessant robocalls, nonsense calls, sales calls and scam calls. It has reached a point where I have screened each and every call coming into my home phone and have blocked every call on my cellphone from everyone except my contacts. Today alone, I counted about 20 attempts to reach me. One number tried five times in the space of two minutes. Normally, I don't miss any calls that are actually for me, but I missed two the other night that were quite important. I emailed the guy and got his number and called him. It was bad enough on my home phone, but now it's my cellphone and everywhere I go. 

I'm not the only one suffering, I have discovered. A friend of mine had gotten a new cellphone number and the first person to call that number was some sort of scam. The phone was in his possession for about 20 minutes before someone called it. He thought it might have been the cellphone people for some reason and he answered the call only to hear someone tell him he could reduce his credit card balance in a few easy steps. He explained to them he had no credit cards and hung up. He didn't actually hang up, because you can't actually hang up a cell phone, but I am sure he pressed that big red button on his screen with authority.

I have gotten calls at pretty much every hour of the day. My phone is never turned off. I have two grown daughters and they know they can call me most any time of the day or night without hesitation. One evening as I was going to bed, my phone rang and I answered it sleepily only to be asked for a donation to some organization that had an official sounding name. I told them to call me back in the morning after I consulted the Nigerian prince that had emailed me the day before about the unclaimed million dollars that was waiting for me. Once I collected that, I was certain to have a few dollars to spare. 

My favorite is the call about the extended warranty on my car. I am all for protection, but my car is nearly 17 years old and has about 300,000 miles on the odometer. I'm pretty sure my extended warranty ran out sometime in the mid-2000s. I got a call one day about the interest rate on my 2003 Hyundai. I certainly did not have an outstanding loan on my car. I paid for it in full five years ago and it absolutely did not require financing of any sort. If someone does have a loan out on my car, it's news to me. If they get my car repossessed, that's not necessarily a bad thing. I get complaints from people that when I park in front of their homes or businesses, their property value goes down. 

My wife doesn't seem to get as many of these calls as I do. I can't tell you why that is. She gets summoned for jury duty and I do not. Maybe it's my way of being penalized for never getting called for jury duty. I'm beginning to wonder if it's a good trade. Jury duty usually only lasts a day. 

I don't want to change my number. I like my phone number and I have had it for a while. I don't want to go through the rigmarole of changing my number and then letting everyone know I have a new number and all that. I would just like to be left alone for a while without my phone ringing or buzzing or whatever. 

I kinda miss the days of my calls just being my daughters asking for money. I still don't have a lot of money to dole out to the girls, but I'd rather give it to them than extend the nonexistent warranty on my car. I've started giving a callback number. I gave the car warranty people the phone number for the interest rate reduction people and vice versa. Let them sort it out amongst themselves. 

Joe Weaver, a native of Baltimore, is a husband, father, pawnbroker and gun collector. From his home in New Bern, he writes on the lighter side of family life.