FRIDAY! And what a Friday I have ahead. A interview, the work blog, a video interview for my Strib show, a column, a nap, taking daughter to piano, pizza, then the night of work preparing all the updates for the next week while watching a black and white movie and enjoying a fine Rye beverage, then "Ripper Street," a fine BBC show, observed with intent interest while consuming a dish of ice cream.
These are the things that shall come to pass. At the end of the night I will be amused because well, that's done. Unless the nap was ruined by the Army of Robotic Confounders.
Yes. Another call from “LOWER INTEREST,” which I don’t answer. They leave a message. The robot always leaves a message of six or seven words, which means I have to clean it off the phone. (enter code, enter password code, hit 7.) The calls come every day. I’ve stayed on long enough to push the “take me off your list” feature they pretend to respect.
So, off to report them to the FTC, which has a Do-Not-Call abuse list. You’re supposed to enter your phone number in a box. If you click anywhere in the box, that’s where you start typing - so if you see
and you mistakenly click at
That’s where you start, and you can’t hit “backspace,” because it doesn’t work, so you have to reload the page. You start again, being very careful to get the cursor in the right place. Fail. Reload. Try again.
. . . because it didn’t jump to the next field after you’d typed in the area code. Why? Because some day we might have four-digit area codes, and they’re thinking ahead. No one who wrote this ugly page gave a thought to actual user use, or AUU, as we call it. Or AUUUUUUGHH, as it is usually expressed. But! If you go to the FTC’s Twitter page, you’ll see they’re having a big discussion about the rules for disclosing paid endorsements in Twitter posts, because most of us just blindly stab at a link when anyone suggests a product or service. They did have a conference on Robocalls, once.
Stand in awe of the transcript, right here.
It links to the Robocall Challenge, which will give $50,000 to someone who comes up with a good way to stop the calls. Hey, how about using the $100 million dollar FTC law enforcement budget to fine the bejeezus out of these people?
To which some say: get rid of your land line. Never. It is the only communication link we have with its own power system. Besides, they’re hitting cellphones, too.
To which some say: just don’t answer and live with it. To which I say: Why is the onus on me? I do not want this onus. I am usually busy and do not want to deal with onii such as this.
It comes down to two things: my own dislike of interruptions from strangers who want my money or my signature, and my own horror of imposing on others. Since I would not do something like set up robots to bother people, it is, of course, completely unfair that they do.
But back to the FTC. Let’s imagine their initials were actually IRS, and the lawbreakers owed them money. Let’s imagine the IRS having a contest to give $50,000 in taxpayer money to someone who came up with a great idea for collecting back taxes. Let us just imagine that and conclude what we will.
Call-outs to the @FTC twitter account got nothing, of course. Whereas calling out other companies with which I’ve had some difficulties got a response within a couple of hours. Apparently that "Do Not Call" law was more like "We'd Prefer You Didn't."
The amusing part of it all? The guest host for the Hewitt show was Congressman John Campbell, who's on the House Committee on the Budget, so I started the segment by saying I had a complaint about the FTC's use of their budget, and wanted him to pretend to listen then blow me off with some drivel about being glad I brought it to his attention, and he'd get his staff to look into it. He played right along.
It's an odd life.