'Do Not Call' lists are a farce

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Column by Jim Clark

Years ago, the federal and state governments established what is commonly called “Do Not Call” lists. You can add your phone number to a list, and telemarketers, etc., are not supposed to call you.
Like so many other government programs, these are a complete joke.
I get so many calls on both my home phone and our office newsroom phone, both of which have been on the list for quite some time.
The phone rings and it’s some person who wants to service your air conditioning system, or someone who wants to pressure clean your driveway, or someone who wants to refinance your home, etc., etc., etc.
When you ask them when they have done business with you in the past (a “do not call” exemption), and they say never, then they are told they are violating state and federal law. “Oh, no we’re not,” a couple of them will say. I tell them yes they are and generally hang up after threatening to report them.
What’s even worse is that there are exemptions. For politicians, they made sure they could still call us without penalty with their annoying robo-calls. I had one the other day, I answered and a recording, which started before I answered, was saying something about being paid for by the Carson campaign. Since I consider myself smart enough to make up my mind about voting for someone without listening to a recording, I hung up.
Another exemption involves bill collectors. I am constantly getting calls on our newsroom phone asking for one certain individual. The caller usually has a heavy accent.
If I tell him nicely that there’s no one by that name here, some of them say “Are you sure?” Of course, I’m sure. I know my name and I’m the only one answering that number, so yes, I’m sure.
Some of them say they’ll remove my number, but then the same guy calls back two hours later asking for the same individual. If I get angry, he cusses me out, at least I think he does, since I can barely understand him.
I’m tempted to ask, without saying my name, what company says I owe them money, and then I’ll handle it locally by going to that company. It won’t be pretty.
I’ve been tempted to set a policy of not answering a number I don’t recognize. However, on our office phone, that doesn’t always work. Just the other day I had a phone call from a number in Washington state. I ignored it, but then it rang again a minute later, so I answered it. Turns out it was someone who wanted to talk about delivery of the paper (which I don’t handle), but they were calling on their cell phone which is registered 3,000 miles away.
That doesn’t happen often, so I think I’m going to institute that “Do Not Answer” list. So if you have an unusual number and you call, and I don’t answer, just send me an e-mail.
That way I’ll read it, unless my computer automatically puts it in the “spam” folder. And that, my friends, is a whole other story.
Jim Clark is the editor of the West Marion Messenger and South Marion Citizen.