LANDLINES AND ROBO-CALLERS
I still have a landline. It is an outdated Trimline phone with a touchtone keypad. It has an annoying metallic ring that jolts me out of whatever I am doing at the moment. But I almost never answer this phone, unless I am expecting a specific call. It is a waste of time and effort, since 99% of the time there will be a recorded or digital voice there, trying to sell me something, get a donation, take a survey, connect me with an agent, or it is an outright scam.
It would appear that the purpose of the landline—especially one with a number still listed in the phonebook—is to answer robo-calls. Many of them start with a pleasant recorded voice asking, “Is ___ there?” They do not even wait for the tone from the answering machine to start talking.
The answering machine is connected to a portable extension phone beside my bed. I have the phone set to ring twice before the machine answers, saying, “Please leave a message.” If it is important, and the caller leaves a number, at least this way, I can replay the message and write down the number. (This is not as efficient as the “missed call” with caller ID on my cell phone, but is useful once in a while.)
Why do I hang onto my landline? Like the two other people I know who have kept theirs–despite AT&T’s repeated offers to replace them with “better” digital phones—I know that the landline is (usually) still connected if there is a power outage and I can’t charge my cell phone. I can also stay on “hold” without using up my minutes and the battery on the cell phone.
We “old folks” pay too much for this basic lifeline, considering the kind of abuse it gets from robo-callers who never add our names to the Do Not Call list, despite their promises. But we still think it is worth it to be able to call out in an emergency.
As for the robo-callers, in some cases, it may be the only kind of work that a disabled person can do. A pleasant voice and some practice with switching from one recorded message to another when you say, “No,” and they don’t have to actually talk themselves hoarse before you finally hang up on them. The surveyor or pollster may be an actual person entering data into a computer program. Or it may be done automatically when you push a number or say yes or no.
Few people would stay with the job of cold-calling people who don’t want to talk to them, without the technology that allows them to always sound pleasant and polite. It is something they can do to make a little money. After being treated rudely and hung-up on enough times, most robo-callers will quit.
If you get a live person soliciting for something you don’t care about—and you have the time and inclination—you can have a little fun. You can lie to him or her until they get suspicious. Or as a friend of mine used to do, pretend to believe you are talking to an old family acquaintance, and say, “Ohhhh, is that you, Charlie? I haven’t heard from you in such a long time! How’s your Mama?” (Caller tries to identify himself, but you go on.) “Do you remember the time when we…?” Eventually the caller will hang up in frustration…and hopefully run a line through your name on his list!
Love, Sis G ❤