When I lived in my previous apartment, which was up until 2000, all I had was a land line phone and an answering machine. At least once a week I would come home, pick up my phone, and not hear a dial tone. Or I would listen to my answering machine, which would go through a series of beeps, and then I'd get a recorded message from the operator telling me that if I'd like to make a call, please hang up and dial again. What was causing these dead phones and operator messages were telemarketing computers calling, getting my answering machine, and then not hanging up their end of the phone line properly.
When I moved to my new apartment, I arranged three services with Cincinnati Bell:
1. Caller ID, a box you can buy at a drug store and attach to the phone so that you can see the name and/or number of the caller. You pay extra for this service. If it's a local call, the name will be identified. If it's long distance, the city and state will be identified.
2. Reveal, the explanation of which is deliberately poorly written in the Cincinnati Bell phone books. If a person calls from a private line (which is not a private residence or unlisted number), he or she is forced to input the phone number from which he or she is calling before the call will go through. A private line is one of many owned by a company (such as an office with multiple phone lines all reached through the same outside phone number). I don't mind legitimate calls of this type, such as work or the doctor's office.
3. Call Block, which again, the explanation of which is deliberately poorly written in the Cincinnati Bell books. I use it to block the same three households which are always misdialing my phone number. When I've removed the block, within a week the person will call again. Once I tried having a conversation with one of the callers, and she had no idea what I was talking about. These are the first six digits of my phone number: 941-992. 941 is the same as the area code for Tallahassee, and 992 is an exchange there, so people forgetting to put the 1 in front for a long distance number will always get me instead. Very annoying. I can be nice to people so many times, and then forget it.
The combination of the three services, plus letters to the state asking me to be removed from telemarketers calls, did much to alleviate the problem of sales calls and hang-up calls.
Except for one.
I fell for this scam not once but twice. A Cincinnati company called Telcom Enterprises does telemarketing services for an organization that labels itself something like Orphans of Ohio Police, or Children of Police Picnic, or Police Officer Training, or Retired Police Officers. It might have been all of them at one time or another. The telemarketer, who doesn't say he's with Telcom but rather the so-called charity, takes the time to go through the Reveal system to reach you and ask for donations. I fell for their spiel twice, unfortunately, and sent some money to them. Since this is now considered an organization with which you have done previous business, it has the permission to call you. Again. And again. And again and again and again.
What the caller will do is greet you by name, say he's with one of the above charities, and ask if you'd like to be sent a decal/magnet/other junk promotional merchandise in exchange for a small donation. Not knowing any better, you say yes. The decal will arrive in your mailbox in the next day or two, along with an invoice. If you toss the invoice, in a couple of weeks, the company will start calling you. Every day.
So, here, at last, is the reason for this long column. Thanks to Caller ID (which used to say Telcom Enterprises but now just says Ohio call) and Reveal, I am going to list the phone number extensions for Telcom, and which days its reps have called me in the past two months. Please note that all of the numbers begin with the 513 area code:
June 5, 3:54 p.m., 759-8811
Aug. 14, 1:20 p.m., 759-8814
Aug. 15, 7:45 p.m., 759-8821
Aug. 16, 10:41 a.m., 759-8816
Aug. 18, 11:02 p.m., 759-8818
Aug. 20, 7:15 p.m., 759-8813
Aug. 21, 6:43 p.m., 759-8819
I have a feeling there are more of them that for some reason or another my Caller ID box erased, or the company is calling from another location.
So, you ask, why don't I do the following?
1. Get an unlisted number. I don't want to go through the hassle, not to mention that it costs more.
2. Get rid of my land line phone and just get a cell. Truthfully (and I know this is very Luddite-ish), I have a cell phone which I hardly use and quite frankly, hate it, and hate it when I see others using one.
3. Call Block the numbers. Unfortunately, Cincinnati Bell allows you to only block six numbers. I use three to block the aforementioned folks trying to call long distance. As you can see, Telcom has a lot more extensions it uses than just three!
4. Tell the company to stop calling. First of all, I don't want to talk to these people anymore and when I do make the mistake of answering, I just hang up immediately. Secondly, telling one telemarketer at one phone line doesn't mean he'll tell the other callers at other times at other lines to stop calling. Most likely, he's not allowed to do so.
5. Make a telephone harassment complaint. I can't just tell Cincinnati Bell about it; you have to make a police report. Why would the police want to investigate a company that may or may not be assisting them in the first police?
6. Contact the Better Business Bureau. I did, about four years ago, about both Telcom and a rug cleaning company. I finally got the rug cleaners to stop calling, after its owner got the complaint and then called to yell at me for causing a bad mark against his firm, but nothing happened with Telcom.
This is what I want done. I want someone to start a lawsuit against Telcom because what it is doing isn't charity; it's telephone harassment. I am going to continue listing when it calls, and what numbers it calls from, until the company goes out of business.