July 16, 2018

That Really Bunches My Panties…by Brendon Marks

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It won’t be long before a real human speaking on a telephone will be outlawed. If you want to call your mother, you will push a few buttons on your phone, press the ‘send’ button, lay your phone on the table, and go take a shower. The phone will do everything. Of course, you have to remember, your phone will be talking to your mother’s voice mail, so they’ll get along just fine.

Lately, I’ve been getting the usual number of telemarketing calls, but they’ve been different. They’re not human beings anymore; they’re recordings or “robocalls”. One report I read said that 30 billion robocalls were generated in 2017 and most were illegal. Sometimes, they start ‘talking’ as soon as I pick up the phone, but usually there’s a short pause after I say, “Hello” before they launch into the spiel. At first, I would say “Hello” a second time just as it would start. Now when I hear that pause I just hang up. Who said you can’t teach an old dog new tricks? The bad part about this is that I get no real sense of satisfaction from hanging up on a machine.

Sometimes these recordings were good enough so that I didn’t immediately realize that it was a recording, and since my mama taught me not to interrupt, I would sit and listen until it reached the part where “if you are interested, call 1 800 NEW JUNK.” Then I would hang up.

I also tried some other tactics. The first was just laying the phone down on the table and going about my business, thinking that if they had to pay for a half-hour phone call for nothing; they might change the method of doing business. That didn’t work.

Waiting until the end of the spiel to see if there would be an opportunity for me to leave a message was also futile. I should have known they wouldn’t be that dumb.

The latest method I have tried might be doing some good, because ‘Kevin’ hasn’t called in a while. I very carefully wrote down the 800 number he gave me, programmed it into my fax machine, and then every ten minutes I hit redial. Let their person talk to my machine, and see how they like it.

According to another report the FTC and congress are attempting to do something about all these robocalls, but I don’t hold out too much hope since politicians made themselves exempt from the Do Not Call registry restriction.
We also have to deal with machines when we make calls.

I called AT & T the other day because I wanted to change my billing address. The first recording instructed me to enter my eleven-digit account number. After that I progressed through at least six menus, never once being given the option of speaking to a human being. Finally, I had the option of verifying my billing address. I chose that option, and an obviously computer-generated voice ‘read’ my current billing address.

Can you imagine how it pronounced ‘Phoenix?’ After reading my address, the ‘voice’ instructed me to press ‘1’ to accept and ‘2’ to change. I pressed ‘2’, and got another menu requesting I choose the office where my account is serviced. I did so, and got another recording that told me the office was closed, to leave a message, and someone would return my call the next day. I left a message. Each time I was tempted to use one of the words from my list of potentially hazardous, I would press the ‘pound’ key on my phone instead.

Press the ‘star’ key to repeat these instructions.

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