August 16, 2010
If I Don't Answer...
From a personal perspective, the National Do Not Call Registry was a godsend. No more telemarketing calls at dinnertime, no more people calling offering services I don’t want or need. Sure, there are still some questionable “charities” that have carte blanche permission to call us, but overall the DNCR was a good move.
Unfortunately, that ‘good idea’ didn’t spill over into business phone lines. At least three times per day I receive unsolicited calls from internet search companies, web ranking companies, auto-dialers, and other various time-wasters. I’m getting better at weeding them out and ignoring the calls when they come in, but they are a pretty sneaky bunch.
Many times, the caller ID simply conveys “Unknown Name, Unknown Number”. Normally, it would be easy to screen these out, but one company I do a fair amount of business with also shows up like this, so good business dictates I take every call that shows up with that moniker. About half the time it’s a valid call from the aforementioned company, the other half it’s garbage calls from solicitors.
An easier tip-off from caller ID that tells me to avoid the call: Unassigned area codes. You may be asking yourself how I would know what area codes have been assigned and which haven’t, but after 18 years working nationally, I’ve got it figured out pretty well. Another tip-off is when there are odd numbers in sequence. For example, a call I got this morning had an unassigned area code and the first three digits of the actual number were 000. I suspected this call was generated from an auto-dialer, and I was right. (An auto-dialer simply ‘spams’ numbers to see if they’re operational. If someone picks up, I suspect it reports the number as active and the ‘fishing’ company sells that number to telemarketing companies. I don’t know this for a fact, but I don’t know why else calls would come in with nobody on the other line to solicit for business.)
The hardest calls to screen are those from a company called Leapfish. Leapfish is some kind of internet search company, who want “select” companies from each industry represented on their website. The only problem: I’ve only heard of Leapfish from the literally dozens of calls I’ve gotten from them in the past year. I seriously doubt anyone actually uses Leapfish as a search engine, so why would I pay them to prominently display my website when nobody uses theirs? I think Leapfish actually makes up business names that will show up on my caller ID: For instance, last week I got a call from them, although it showed up as “Option One Mortgage”. So…either the Leapfish rep is moonlighting as a telemarketer when he should be working at Option One, or they’re falsifying the caller identifiers so I can’t easily screen their persistent phone calls.
Hopefully you can sympathize with our dilemma. We want to avoid the time-wasting calls so we have more time to take the ones from you, our customers. At the same time, we may miss your call if your last name is “Unknown” or “Leapfish”, or you have an unassigned area code (which is highly unlikely!). No worries – you can always leave us a message and we’ll be right back with you. Oh, and if you happen to be a bill collector looking for Teresa Schroeder (the person who had our phone number before we did), don’t bother calling me: I don’t know where she is and she does not work here!
Make it a great week.
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