Friday, August 27, 2010

Hung Up

I haven't determined whom I'm voting for in November, but I'm just about ready to institute this rule: if you phone my home with one of those "robo-calls," you're disqualified.

Automated pitches during the primary spammed up my answering machine by day and interrupted many a quiet morning time of prayer and Bible study -- or sleep. I fear they will only get worse as we move into the home stretch, with Democrats fighting to hang on to seats and Republicans licking their chops. Every vote is going to count more than ever, which means you and I are targets for a barrage of campaign calls.

This is on top of the other spam calls I deal with every day: from banks (wondering if I want to take another credit card), from finance companies (relentlessly looking for another person who owes them money, when said person hasn't been at my phone number or address for at least 6 years), from the local fishwrap (who either wants me back as a subscriber or inexplicably wants to know if my paper has arrived), and from the occasional insurance agent doing cold calls.

The "Do Not Call" list is ineffective against these annoyances. It does not apply to debt collectors, even errant ones, nor will it stop political phone banks. Campaign reform does not extend to your Trimline, and a batch of automated calls cost less than a 30-second TV spot during the news. Caller ID is worthless against them because they come in labeled as a disembodied city name. I have fallen back to the ancient-but-reliable technique of screening calls through the answering machine. If you're a real person -- not a computer or misdirected skip tracer -- I'll gladly pick up, and I apologize in advance for making you wait. Otherwise, talk to the chip. Many of these phantom callers won't even identify themselves after the beep.

This is not a free-speech issue. I wholeheartedly support your right to campaign and work up support. Plant as many signs, buy as many ads, mail as many leaflets as you want, but please leave my phone out of it.

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