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OPINION

Guess who's calling!

By Ed Rood

My phone ringing was the last thing I wanted to hear at that particular moment ... even though I was expecting a call.

There I was, under my car, busily making an intricate adjustment to the baling wire holding the tailpipe to the frame. Not exactly brain surgery, but close enough for me.

I managed to squirm out from under the thing without knocking it off the jack, slowly got to my feet and dashed into the house. I picked up the phone just before it went to voicemail.

“Hello?” I shouted fearing the caller had hung up. Total silence, at least for a few seconds, then: “Is Ewin Rudd available?” a mysterious voice inquired.

Ed Rood

That’s all I needed. I nearly broke my neck getting to the phone and it’s a telemarketer.

Before I could say another word the caller started her spiel: “Mista Rudd, would you like to take part in our voters’ survey …” I slammed the phone down and slowly made my way back to my automobile.

A string of expletives raced through my mind as I crawled back under the car.

Well, that’s life here in central Iowa, especially now, thanks to the upcoming elections. We may have the right to privacy, but no one has informed the telemarketers.

Naturally, this bothers an old fuddy duddy like me. I can remember a time when the only people calling me were people who actually knew me. They might have been trying to sell me a bill of goods, but at least I knew who they were.

Today, one picks up a phone at his or her own peril. It might be someone trying to sell you aluminum siding or a thief seeing if you are at home so he can steal the siding off your house.

What makes it really bad is most of the telemarketers don’t even go to the work of dialing your number. Heck no, they put it (and all your neighbors’) in a computer and then it does the dialing for them (probably a hundred at a time).

But that’s not the worse part. They might have found out all about you from someone you’ve been crazy enough to do business with at some time in your life. Those wonderful people have turned around and sold your name and telephone number to another company who happens to make a living selling telephone numbers to telemarketers (along with numerous other companies.) You have now become part of what they refer to as a database.

That’s right. You’ve made the big list and it was so easy you didn’t even try.

Say you bought an expensive woodworking tool. You filled out a questionnaire on why you bought it. You sent it in — complete with your name and address. The next thing you know, you’re getting phone calls and junk mail trying to sell you a subscription to a woodworking magazine. You get catalogues in the mail specializing in woodworking tools. You even get calls from credit card companies.

Coincidence?

Not hardly!

Your name and phone number have now become public knowledge. Is there a way to keep your phone from ringing every ten minutes?

There’s all sorts of devices designed to keep telemarketers away. Trouble is, most of them really don’t work. As for the “no call list”, it’s totally worthless.

What’s even more enterprising is the fact that most of the companies selling and leasing the worthless devices to keep telemarketers away are the same people who have telemarketers on their staff.

I guess they figure if they can’t get you one way, they’re going to get you another.

Ed Rood is the former publisher of the Tri-County Times.