Monday, April 21, 2014


You aren't expected to put up with strangers knocking on your door at all hours of the day -- strangers who run away just as you see who's there. Yet that's exactly the same thing as those annoying robocalls you've probably been getting at home or even on your cell. 

 For me, it started off as a trickle a few years back, before growing into a weekly avalanche. The numbers rise and fall as the yeggs take a break in order to change numbers, but they never quite stop. Just when I think it's over, the calls begin on a daily basis. As fast as I block one, another calls. My Panasonic phone can block only 30 numbers at a time, so I'm forever deleting the old to replace them with the new. Anyone who claims that the federal government can cure any problem need only see what a bang-up job that "National Do Not Call Registry" list is doing. By the way, the organizations exempt from the law are political organizations (there's a shocker!), telephone surveyors (usually involved with politics) and charities (many of which also engage in political lobbying). Let me know if you see a trend. By the way, this rule doesn't stop shady telemarketers who don't fall into those categories. Zen question of the day: Does a law exist if nobody follows it?

It's gotten so I don't answer the phone if it's an unfamiliar number. The phony calls are easy enough to spot -- a number without a name comes up on the handset screen. Then there are others who are legit, but still want my money. One of these is Telefund, an outfit that vacuums up donations for "progressive" non-profit clients. Its lengthy list includes the usual suspects:  EMILY’s List, NARAL Pro-Choice America, various PBS stations, Hillary for President, etc. It's like being on a Korean ferry with a crew consisting of the MSNBC line-up, only you want it to sink.

Telefund's site features a glowing testimonial from Ann Crowley of the Human Rights Campaign. I ask you, what about my human rights to be left alone? I blocked Telefund's number about a month ago, believing that once they got it through their heads that my phone hung up on them after one ring, they'd take me off their to-do list. Not a chance. After about 20 more calls, it was time to take it, as they say, to the next level. Finding their contact information, I shot them an email:  

Dear Telefund, 
 I'm not sure how you acquired my phone number -- [NUMBER REDACTED] -- but in case you haven't noticed, I blocked your calls some time ago. Since your incessant automated calling system still hasn't gotten the message, allow me to explain it in an email.

I'm. Not. Interested. In. Donating. To. You.

You are not only wasting your time, but have guaranteed that I will never give to any of your clients as long as you keep calling me. So you see, your fundraising calls have had the opposite effect intended. Oh, the irony!

 So why not take my phone number off your robocall list? You'll be saving money and time. And maybe a year from now, I'll throw a few bucks to, say, Oxfam America because I want to, not because you want me to.

Either that, or give me the number of your president so I can call him or her at all hours -- then hang up when it goes to voicemail, just like you used to do before I blocked you.

Friendly, right? No curses or threats. Just a simple request, the kind you'd make to your neighbor who likes to play Skrillex at two in the morning. And, to my delight, it appeared to have worked.

For exactly one week. 

Now, did I really expect the calls to stop? Heavens, no. But a guy can dream. And, like most of my dreams, this one was for naught. A follow-up was in order:

Dear Telefund,

Really, Telefund? Really? After I requested -- fairly politely -- that you remove me from your robocall list, you try to get in touch with me again? Even though I told you that your calls were blocked from my number?

Put yourself my shoes (size 9 1/2). Suppose you asked me to stop bothering you and yet I continued to do whatever it was I was doing. Like... oh, calling you for money. If you're anything like me, I'd wager that you'd find me mighty annoying. Rude, even.

If you waste this kind of money, I wonder why your clients trust you to handle their donations. When the folks from, say, "Hillary For President" ask you how much money was donated to their cause this week, do you ask them, "Before or after we pay the bill for useless phone calls?"

So for the second time, I ask you -- no, I tell you, albeit politely -- to please stop calling. When someone hangs up on me, I get the hint. Now it's your turn. 

It probably won't work any better than it did the first time. If I hear from the good people from Telefund this week, further action will be taken. The third time might not be the charm, but I hope it'll be the curse.


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