do not call…and other phone myths

Last week, I was with an elder client helping prepare for her upcoming move.  This woman’s phone must of rung 25 times during the few hours I was there.  Each time it rang, she had to run to the phone to see whose number was displayed on the screen, to determine whether or not she should risk answering it.  The result was that we only got half the amount of work done that we should have during our session.

Then this week, when I returned to work with her, the phone ringing/phone running/phone checking thing started all over again.

It’s not the first time I’ve noticed this while working with seniors in their homes.  Most seniors will tell you that their phones ring non-stop day and night.  Some of my clients answer every single call and I hear them pleading with the person on the other end (if they are lucky and there actually IS a human on the other end) to leave them alone.

In my home office, my own phone rings day and night, and unfortunately, the majority of the calls I get are telemarketers, whether human or robo calls.  I, too, find myself looking at the screen and trying to figure out if I should or shouldn’t answer.  I suspect I lose business weekly by choosing not to pick up a call, but I’ve decided to live with that.

While there are things you can do to reduce the number of calls you get, like signing up for the Do Not Call Register, we all know that the calls keep coming.  Many people don’t realize that every time you voluntarily sign up for something/anything, you are in fact signing away your Do Not Call rights.

Unfortunately, as a business, the Do Not Call Register exempts me.  Additionally, there are tons of loopholes that marketers can use to exempt them from having to pay any attention to the list.  And we all know that enforcement is nearly impossible.

My cell phone allows me to easily block calls, and so far I haven’t received that many unwanted calls on it.  Landlines remain a major problem.  Here’s what I have decided to do:

1.  I purchased a new landline phone that allows you to block numbers.  That has really helped a lot.  Of course, you have to manually follow certain steps after you have recorded the offending number, but it’s not hard and I can now do it quickly.

I understand that some phone companies offer the ability to block numbers.  Mine does not.

2.  I do look at my phone screen to see any info it gives and determine if I think the caller is legitimate.  I do get fooled, as a lot of telemarketing companies get phone numbers with your local area code so that the number looks local and you are more likely to pick up the phone.

3.  I don’t pick up the phone if there is no caller information.  “Private caller” calls do not get answered.  I don’t call anyone back who doesn’t leave a message.

4.  I hang up on robo calls and immediately block the numbers.

5.  Any telemarketer/solicitor is told, politely to “put this number on your do not call list”.  I use to say “take me off your calling list”, but I understand that companies have a thousand ways to not do that as they claim it’s too vague a statement to know what that means. (As in “what part of NO, don’t you understand?”)

Of course, besides the unwanted phone calls, there’s junk mail, and besides that, is spam email…but that will have to wait because my phone is ringing…

My secretary gets annoyed with telemarketers too.

My secretary gets annoyed with telemarketers too.


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