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Every Friday, I post a small insight into running Curio City and/or Blue Hills Editorial Services. My most recent posts are directly below. You can also start with the first post, or use the subject labels to the right to home in on particular topics. Feel free to comment on anything that interests you.
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Friday, April 17, 2015

Telephone Spam

I've never been a telephone yakker. The family telephone was a business tool for my salesman father, and off limits to children. Calls were kept short and direct when I had to make them at all; calling people "just to talk" (as if I would ever want to do that) was forbidden outright. I've always hated the intrusive and obnoxious nature of telephone intruders so I was happy when the eventual invention of answering machines meant that I never had to answer the telephone again. If it's important, leave a message; if it's not, just go away. (Hint: It's almost never important.)

Fifty years later, my telephone is still primarily a business tool. I didn't mind sharing my business number with my personal phone when I had an old flip cell phone because I never make or answer personal phone calls, and the phone always stayed tethered to my desk as if it were a landline. That changed when I got my first smartphone last spring. The allure of having the internet and my music collection in my pocket (and my wife's expectation of prompt replies to her text messages) has gradually led me to start carrying my phone around with me, making the spammers and scammers harder to ignore. 

Telemarketers send the noise-to-signal ratio so high that at least 75% of incoming calls are garbage. Like everyone else, I ignore calls from 800 and 888 exchanges and "restricted" numbers, so most salespeople are savvy enough to hide behind innocent-looking phone numbers. When I see an unfamiliar one, I google it to see if it's been reported for abuse. If it has been, I add the number to either my Scammer or Dickhead contact, depending on whether the abuser looks more like a crook or a telemarketer. If the number doesn't have any registered complaints and the caller tries a second time, I have to answer it; maybe half of these calls turn out to be customers. Real customers usually leave a voicemail message, and I return those promptly and politely.

Do I have a point? Actually, no: I've probably written about this before. I just wanted to blow off some steam about telephone spam overwhelming legitimate business. At least email spam is easy to filter and ignore.


Bird Kite Lady finally disappeared entirely with her phantom $1,000. This week I struck up a new dance with a Golf Ball Lady who asked about ordering eight dozen loose balls. I invited her to call me.    

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