The menace of automated telemarketing

You are in the middle of an important meeting and your phone starts ringing. A call comes to you from a number that is not registered in your address book. You pick up the call to answer and you get an automated (should I say robotic?) recorded voice that tells you that you are eligible for a personal loan, or that “they” are pleased to inform you that the credit limit on your card can be enhanced. Remember that you chose to take this call in the middle of an important meeting. What would be going through in your mind? Interestingly it was only 2 days ago that you had picked up a phone call emanating from another number, however the message conveyed was same. Your state of mind now?

Fundamentally, I have a few questions:

  • First, if it is going to be only an automated voice speaking to me, why on earth should they call me during my working hours? I can understand if there is a real person on the other side, trying to reach out to me, because I can expect that the real person would also have working hours
  • Second, why am I being contacted daily, even after I have picked up the call on previous instances? Would you not let me sleep till I apply for your personal loan or credit limit increase? Why is it that I am being chased like hell by a pre-recorded voice as much as a ghost haunting its prey?
  • Third, if the credit limit increase is an eligibility and there are no additional charges to it (at-least that is what the pre-recorded voice claims), then why not just do it? Why do you want to take the trouble of calling me and asking me to confirm if I need a credit limit increase, which is anyway free of cost? Why would I like to connect with a pre-recorded voice?
  • Fourth, if the repetitive call is only about credit limit enhancement, why can’t it be just a text message? Why should it be communicated to me through a pre-recorded voice? Honestly, I see no emotion in the voice. It is a bland audio with no voice modulation. Now don’t get me wrong, even if the voice has all the pleasantness and modulation, I am not going to entertain this as it is definitely intrusive and bothersome
  • Fifth, why do you call me from a different number every time? You perhaps don’t want me to block your menace?

Take another instance. You are driving back home and you get a call from an unknown number. You chose not to pick up the call and focus on driving. In a gap of 10 minutes, you get calls from a similar number (note, not the same one though) twice over. You choose to pull over your vehicle to the side and take the call. A sweet (or whatever is your state of mind at that point) pre-recorded voice announces that ““#name of telecom provider” wishes you a pleasant day. Would appreciate if you could spend some time on this pre-recorded call to give a feedback about our service”. Your state of mind now?

Once again, fundamentally I have the following questions:

  • Why are you using impersonal mediums for securing feedback? If feedback is valuable and you would like to act on it, why not fix up an appointment and then seek feedback? ( as long as the process of fixing up the appointment is also not an automated call, it would still work fine I guess)
  • Why should my feedback be restricted only to the option of questions that you are throwing through a recorded message and that too from different numbers at different points in time?
  • Even if I am condescending enough to give a feedback in that state of mind, why on a later date you don’t share with me on what the feedback was and what steps have been taken to resolve issues that I have raised? What is the incentive then for me to give a feedback through an impersonal mode?
  • Why can’t someone interact in person with me, apply their judgment to what is being said and then act on it?
  • Why have the service providers turned so transactional on a crucial element like feedback?

I know I can’t change any of these. So in order to avoid all this unnecessary irritants emanating from tele-calling, I registered myself with National Do Not Call Registry. Despite that I continue to get a lot of calls like these.

So I wanted to plug the loophole myself, by installing a call-blocker software which is freely available in Android play-store. The App works well. It blocks unwanted calls, provided you have mentioned those incoming numbers as “spam”. But the automated tele-callers are smart looks like. At each instance they are able to reach me, because every instance the call originates from a different number.

I thought defeat mechanisms are only popular in the automobile industry! Hats-off to you. You figured out a way too, dear automated tele-callers!!

Now, the app that I installed is also becoming smart. It allows me to block numbers that originate with some specific starting digits. In my case most of the nuisance is from numbers staring with +91 140 followed by XXXXXX. So I blocked all numbers originating from this series.

You think I have reached a state of bliss after this?

I have started getting similar calls from numbers which appear like genuine mobile numbers. What should be my response to this?

I would have to wait and see if my App wins the war over a period of time by infusing more innovations!! I am not marketing for any App here, nor am I seeking advice on which App to install.

My point is more fundamental. I am sure everyone who gets an unsolicited call feels irritated and sometimes helpless when you find that people are finding innovative ways to intrude into your privacy. Is it not? What could be a good solution to this menace? Is there a solution at all, or do we learn to live with such intrusion? Or do we start a large social uprising against these agencies which does such unsolicited automated calling (I can’t even express my frustration at a recorded voice)? Am I the only one who is receiving such unsolicited calls or are there a few (many) others who are undergoing a similar experience?

One solution that comes to my mind is having the tele-callers reach us through a text message first and only if I evince interest, they be allowed to reach us through a call. But that requires their consideration and cooperation! I plead your mercy, dear automated tele-callers!!

So much for automated tele-calling.

Wait to hear my experience in my next article on tele-calling where a real person, and not a recorded voice, calls you from the other end! My experience there is no less hell!

Note: Views expressed by the author are solely in his private capacity and does not in anyway represent the views of the organization that he is employed with

You can visit the author’s personal blog pageprahaladchandrasekharan.wordpress.com to view a few more articles written on a range of topics