Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Now I know why Zombies eat brains. It's because they don't have any.

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.


Playground Monitor said...

Before we moved 4 years ago we had a dedicated fax line. I'd get a half dozen junk faxes every day. What a pain, not to mention they were using my paper and ink. I even had the number on the Do Not Call registry and still got the junk faxes.

I don't get many zombie calls, maybe because they haven't tracked us to our new phone number yet. Most of my wrong numbers are just that -- the person who hits the wrong key by accident. But Rodale Press is beginning to annoy me.

And don't get me started on people who apparently never learned the meaning of the word "no." I give quite generously to charity but I can't give to them all. When I tell you I can't help out the one-armed wallpaper hanger's retirement fund this year, just say, "Thank you for your time. Have a nice day." and hang the heck up. Don't make me have to hang up on you.

Lynn Raye Harris said...

OMG, that would SO tick me off. Do you have Privacy Director? I was thinking of getting rid of it, but perhaps it's blocking this kind of crap. My phone hardly ever rings.

Between PD and Caller ID, I RARELY take calls I don't want.

I did get a lot of calls for some deadbeat in Hawaii though. That was irritating. Most people were polite and stopped calling, but there were a few who kept it up.

Hey, word verif: frappe Am I destined to go to Starbucks today?

Playground Monitor said...

Lynn's comment about the deadbeat made me remember the strange calls we got one summer when the DH was on TDY and I was with him. We'd get calls in the middle of the night from folks who were definitely a couple french fries shy of a Happy Meal. One day I looked up the name of the person they were calling and started giving callers his new number. Then the police called one day looking for him and I gave them the new number and his address.

A few weeks later we were moving to another TDY location and the night before we left, we heard on the radio that the guy whose name I'd given to the police had been arrested for growing marijuana in his back yard. Boy was I glad I was headed out of town since I'd led the police right to him.

We have Privacy Director too, but I'm still not sure how it works. It will block the doctor's office calling to remind me of an appointment but let Rodale Press through.

Lynn Raye Harris said...

I have no idea how PD works! It always makes my editor go through the menu, and then I have to accept her call. I don't know why. I guess there must be a way to put numbers on a accept or reject list. I've not tried. Hmm, need to look that up...

I do occasionally get calls on my cell phone for the wrong person. And one night, Hubby's phone kept ringing and ringing. The drunk woman thought she was calling her boyfriend/husband who was out with another woman. She left the nastiest message, OMG. It was kind of funny though.

Smarty Pants said...

I am on the do not call list, but of course, if you get suckered into giving money to a charity, they can spread your information like herpes and it doesn't count. I gave some money to one disabled police organization. Next thing I know, I'm getting 5 calls a day, all from the same calling center, but each for different charities. Do not be fooled into thinking you're actually talking to officers who volunteer to do it. Oh no. When I told one of them no, and explained why, he said something rude and hung up. Of course, you can't call them back because the number on their caller ID rings to a number that tells you the voice mail is full and hangs up.

So I paid my donation and included a note that told them they'd ruined it for themselves by sharing my information and now no one was getting my money and to take me off their list and any other list. I haven't gotten a call in a while. Of course it isn't the right season for it. I think they usually hit me in the fall.

Same thing happened to me with my mailing address. I gave money to the WWF and all of a sudden I was getting stickers and requests from Nuns in Tibet and a million other things....

Maven Linda said...

I'm on the national do not call list and we still get calls -- not many, but some. Usually, if I answer at all, and actually get a person (most of them are robo calls, and they disconnect as soon as you answer, but the person making the call still gets paid because they made a call that got answered, and that's all they want) I tell the Real Person to remove my number from their list. I say it firmly. And I hang up.

As for PC's problem, might she suggest to the idiot calling that they check her number in the White Pages and SEE FOR THEMSELVES THAT JOHN DOE doesn't live there? How hard is that? They might even try Googling John Doe.

Problem Child said...

PM -- that's why I had to get rid of my fax number. It was bad enough to get junk faxes, but they'd usually start coming in around midnight.

Lynn-- to my knowledge PD only kicks in when the number is "Unknown" or "Private Caller."

SP-- I've made it a point to never give any money to anyone who calls me. I tell them that too: "I'm sorry, I don't donate by telephone. If your organization would like to send me some literature, I'd be happy to look it over." You just have to be careful, though, because they'll tell you they'll send you all the info *if* you agree to donate now.

Maven Linda -- not long after I moved here, I got a phone call from someone wanting to know if I knew my neighbors a couple of doors down. Said it was an emergency regarding her brother and they'd started getting phone numbers for the houses nearby in the hopes I could take a message over. I, of course, wrote down the name and number and taped it to the neighbor's front door, only to later find out it was one of those ZDCs...

Problem Child said...

Oh, and I HATE those calls that start "Please hold for a representative." Um, no. If you call me, I'm not hanging on the line for you to pick up at your convenience. That might fly if you're the president or someone who's actually *important,* but telemarketing flunkie -- no.

Darling Geek said...

I was very, very tempted to just write out the lyrics, but, in an effort to not spam up my wife's blog, I'll just link to the mp3...

Re: Your Brains, by Jonathan Coulton

Oh, and Privacy Director only blocks numbers that don't have caller ID information, so presumably Rodale Press gets through by actually publishing their caller ID.

We had to turn off our fax line too. We just used a second number on the same line with a distinctive ring pattern. Unfortunately, that meant you couldn't turn the ringer off. We had one too many 2am spam faxes.

Christine said...

We have a person who owes money for a student loan in our lives. She has been in our lives since the day I married my husband. That was 23 years ago. Anyway, her last name is the same, but her first is different. We have moved 5 times, 3 times out of state, and have resolved the matter each time only to start receiving mail in her name, calls regarding her debt in her name and more. I've had our names removed countless times.

Seriously, she doesn't live here.

What is annoying is having to redo it all the time. We actually got mail for her in our new address in AL. Pain in the ....

Phones ringing are my least favorite thing, but with a kid in school, I keep the ringer on. She's broken her hand, had major illnesses and nosebleeds all at school. I think the school nurse has us on speed dial.

Mark said...

You are in a tough situation there. There isn't a lot you can do when businesses harass you on non-sales topics. The laws are written to provide them a lot of latitude in the harassment.

Sadly, we got the number of a John Doe who had/has money troubles and still after 3 years receive calls from collection agencies. Fortunately they are a lot more pleasant than these guys.

Unfortunately even after 3 years the phone book still shows their name with our phone number. The phone company is no help "we get all of our info as a feed from the phone providers" and the provider is no help "we are sending them the corrected info" and here I sit, years later.

Anonymous said...

First, thank you very much for my prize.
Second, good luck with those calls. I made the mistake once of giving a donation to St. Jude's. Big no no. Within 6 months, I had enough mailing labels (that I am still using to this day) from at least 6 charities wanting donations and that was several years ago. I only give money through my work or to Salvation Army kettle. And I get calls from the Heart Assn. wanting me to send letters to my neighbors, no thank you! They don't let up either, lesson learned.

Kathy said...

What I hate is you tell them 'no' and they keep calling back asking the same thing, except they use a different caller. When a resident says 'no', take them off the list!

We keep getting calls telling us, 'This is the last time we are calling about your car warranty.' Oh really, because this is only the 15th time you've called and said the same thing and I never used your company.

I love how they always call during the day for the hubby when, with any amount of brains, they should know he's at work. LOL!

We've been on the no-call list but now all of sudden we're getting lots of calls.

word verif: feckkin ?

#2: deginspl (sounds like something solicitors do.)

Instigator said...

We get calls...unfortunately they're from a partner to a company we actually have an account with. They are not prohibited from calling and offering you a lower interest rate and/or new account... Although there is one thing that works in my favor. They inevitably ask me if my mom is home when I answer. I just tell them no and hang up :-) My mom doesn't happen to live here, thankyouverymuch.

And I have to deal with this at work too since I answer the phones. At home I just ignore anything that doesn't come in with a number I recognize. At work I can't do that. I get really tired of people being pushy and not taking no for an answer!


Angel said...

I seem to have gotten the internet services switched over. We've been meaning to do it for a while, and ended up having to have a tech come out and work on the lines today. It has kept me off the internet all morning, then I spent time getting the emails switched over. Hate all that work.

My least favorite callers? Debt collection agencies. I hate those, so I can sympathize. I've noticed that I've started getting sales calls where the caller ID actually shows a person's name and phone number. That drives me crazy!!! I work from home, so I answer calls that are identified as real people. Now I'm getting these sales calls sneaking in. They must be doing it to get around the Directory thing. Annoying!!!


Playground Monitor said...

I actually had a call last year where the Caller ID read "This is a Scam." Truth in advertising, I guess.

Anonymous said...

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