Dealing with increasing robo calls

Ring, ring.

Me: “Hello.”

Pause on the receiver. Then: “Don’t hang up…” Click.

Yep! Another robo call. That “Don’t hang up…” brings my automatic response to do the opposite. I just can’t bring myself to not answer, to not do what so many of my friends do: letting the call go to the answering machine.

We still have a landline and maybe too many phones: five, all on the same landline.

Two of the phones do have screens that show the caller’s name or number or some unknown message, but our other three phones are the old fashioned kind that I suppose I should junk in favor of something more modern.

The problem occurs especially when at my desk with the computer, I answer the archaic phone within one ring.

As for the phones with screens, the other problem is that I suppose I am a bit vain and to see what is on the screen I need to have my bifocals on – and – by the time I find my glasses and put them on it seems rude not to have answered the phone. That vainness also occurs when being called on the cell phone where I have just a simple 2″ long, folded flip phone where again I can’t see the screen without my glasses.

When coming home after being out of the house for a while, I have also noticed that there might not be any messages on the answering machine, but the screen lists the number of missed calls. That number lately has been increasing, often with eight or nine missed calls over a two to three hour period, which is indicative of the robo calls where they have not bothered to leave a message. Or the callers let the message machine go on, but nothing is recorded thus requiring waiting to hear something only to then have to delete.

Even more frustrating is to get a message on the answering machine where the caller speaks so fast I can’t tell what is being said or repeats a number for a call back requiring playing the message again just to decipher that number. Oh, Fiddlesticks!


Using the phone to contact some businesses can also be a headache and a time consuming process. Last Friday when the mail came (mail creating almost as big a headache at times as the telephone calls received), I found two copies of Time magazine each for Jan. 14, 2019, one addressed to my wife and one to me.

Before I continue the story, I do not understand what that date means. Will I see in the magazine what has happened in the world on, say, Jan. 4? Jan. 5?… Jan. 10? Jan. 11? Maybe that date on the magazine is to remind me to put it in the recycling on Jan. 14. Maybe one of the readers of this column could enlighten me.

I noted on the address label that one of the copies had a “DEC19” while the other copy had a “NOV19.” I am not sure what that meant but thought it might have been the month of expiration of the subscription. Furthermore, maybe it had been renewed as a gift from someone, but instead of extending the one subscription for a year a new subscription was entered. Interesting also on the labels, both had 2003 which would seem to mean the year in which the original subscription was started.

Trying to solve this problem the fastest way, I got out the magnifying glass in order to read the very fine print at the bottom of inside page one. There was an email address, a phone number, and a snail mail address. Phone seemed like the fastest. So on Saturday they had office hours from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. and about 10 a.m. Central Time I called the number.

“All of our operators are busy. Estimated time to wait is approximately 10 minutes. Your call is important to us. Please do not hang up.” Or something like that. An alternative was to use one of the other ways to contact them. So about every 20 seconds for roughly 10 minutes I heard a message repeated. Eventually an operator answered with, “Please give your zip code.” I did that as well as answering other questions that eventually had the full snail mail address except I explained that we had received two copies of the magazine with the difference being my wife’s name on one and mine on the other.

She then asked me to wait while she looked up the record. Coming back on the line she said that she found the record for Aileen. I repeated the problem about the double copy and told her about the copy mailed to James Rowe. Again there was a delay while she looked for that record Coming back on the line she said there is a record for Aileen. I repeated the problem. She looked again and said there is no record for a subscription for James Rowe at the given address.

I explained I had the two magazines in front of me with the two labels. She asked what the account was on the label. I asked which codes on the label are the account number. She eventually said (as best as I could decipher it) that it had a T an I and an M. I explained that the only Ms on the label that I could see were in Marshall and in MN. After some more discussion I asked to talk to her supervisor. She responded that she wasn’t sure she could find her supervisor, but put me on hold. Another 20 minute wait on hold. Back again she said she would check again Another 20 minute hold. I hung up.

I may wait a while to cool down before I get out my poison pen to write a blistering, snail mail letter! Do you suppose I should send it registered with a signature required when delivered?

Until next time: Oh, Fiddlesticks!