One thing I've noticed since I started working from home is that my phone rings all day long. These people very rarely leave messages, so I had no idea how often my phone was ringing when I wasn't here.
I have Caller ID, and I don't answer unless I recognize the number. (Which, as we all know, is how I missed my Call from my editor..sigh). Recently, I started seeing a number appear repeatedly on the Caller ID, but they never left a message. Out of curiosity, I Googled the number and found that it belongs to a debt collection agency – one with a whole lot of complaints about them.
Debt collectors have a job to do – I do understand that – but this company seems to be one of those companies that collect “Zombie Debt” – debt that has long been dropped from your credit report or that was cleared under bankruptcy proceedings. The company buys up the rights to those old debts for pennies on the dollar then sets out to harass people into repaying the money.
Now, I'm not going to get into the argument about people paying their debts, etc, etc. What's important here is that I know I don't have any outstanding debts. My credit report is clean, thankyouverymuch. But I'm tired of hearing the phone ring, the answering machine picking up, and then a dial tone all day long. It really breaks my concentration. It was time to put a stop to this. I figured once they knew they had the wrong number, it would be over.
I was wrong. Very wrong. The conversation went something like this:
Zombie Debt Collector: “May I speak to John Doe”
Problem Child: “You have the wrong number.” (I've never even heard of John Doe.)
ZDC: “Are you sure.”
PC: “Very.” (Unless there's someone living in my house I'm unaware of...)
ZDC: “Well, he gave us this number as a contact number.”
PC: “I can't help you. Sorry.”
ZDC: “Can you give him a message?”
PC: “No, because I don't know who he is.”
ZDC: “Well, who is this?”
PC: (Starting to lose patience.) “The person who actually owns this number.”
ZDC: “It's very important we speak to him about a private legal matter.”
PC: “There's no one here by that name. I don't know anyone by that name. I can't help you. Please stop calling here.”
ZDC: “Tell John to call ...”
PC: “I can't give a message to a person I don't know. Please don't call here again. Good bye.”
Although I was irritated, I tried to remain polite. But as the ZDC kept talking I finally just hung up the phone. It was over, so I went back to the WIP.
They called three more times. I finally blocked the number.
But it didn't end there. I started getting calls from another number, but this time they left messages. Now, my answering machine very clearly says, “You've reached PC, DG, and AC. Please leave a message.” (Notice how it does not mention the name John Doe.)
The messages start like this: “This message is for John Doe. By continuing to listen to this message you acknowledge you are John Doe.”
Excuse me? By pressing PLAY on my answering machine, I'm agreeing I'm someone I'm not? How exactly does *that* work? It's the equivalent to the Spam in my inbox saying “By receiving this message, you acknowledge you are in need of penis enlargement supplies.”
Sigh. I know there's a form someplace online I can probably file a complaint against this company, but from the huge amount of complaints I've found, that would be a total waste of time. So, I've taken to turning off the ringer in my office. Anyone I really want to talk to has my cell phone number anyway.
(But then so do the people who want to sell me a warranty policy for a car I don't own and the people who want to lower my credit card rates. Don't get me started on what I'd like to do to companies who call me with a recorded message...)
DG often talks about the Zombie Apocalypse. I'm thinking it's here. Where can I buy a flamethrower?
Go ahead. Vent. Share your annoying phone solicitor call stories...
P.S. Playground Monitor realized she didn't pick a winner from her January 21st blog and will rectify that right now. Robertsonreads is the winner. Please email Playground Monitor with your name and mailing address and she'll get your prize to you.