Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Caller ID and the Unknown

Do you have caller ID? Do you get calls from the infamous unknown? Do you answer such calls?

I ask all these questions because one of my policies since I first got caller ID is that I don't answer any call marked unknown or private - they go straight to voice mail.  I have at times gone so far as to program my computer network to automatically shuffle the unknown and private calls to voice mail so I am not disturbed by a ring.  I can then call back if it is warranted. The reasoning behind this policy is straight forward - if you want to hide your identity that is your privilege, but I reserve the right not to answer if you choose to do so. This is because more that 90% of the calls I get that register as unknown or private are telemarketers or pollsters. Calling my phone is privilege and if you are wasting my time, you have no business calling. These people do waste my time and so have no business calling and so ... Note that this abuse persists even with the national do-not-call lists because of the political, non-profit, and "previous relationship" loopholes in the do-not-call legislation.

My policy works well for me and has not generally been a problem with constituents reaching me since I became mayor. The only problems arise from what I refer to as the telephony challenged organizations who have never set up their PBX or telecom system correctly and so show up as unknown by default. Usually such  organizations get a clue when no one answers their calls and eventually fix their system. However, there are two local organizations that seem destined to remain permanently clueless. Maybe they just don't think it is important. Maybe they don't want to talk to anyone and prefer to leave messages. Who knows?

The reason these two organizations are problematic is that they often need want to talk to me but haven't fixed their systems. One of them is the local daily newspaper and the other is the local community college. The publisher of the newspaper and the president of the college are the unknown callers who have to leave messages. At least one of them will call multiple times before finally leaving a message. Both have been informed of the problem. The problem still persists years after they were informed of the issue and how to fix it. Makes me suspect they really just prefer to leave messages.

I'll close by asking you - what would you do in such a case? Continue the current policy or give up time each day to telemarketers? I know what I have done, the question is what would you do?


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