Sunday, June 19, 2011

Why Do People Still Block Caller ID? And Other Outmoded Telecom Practices

A few minutes ago, I heard a buzzing sound. It took me a few minutes to realize it was my work BlackBerry. It kept buzzing. Normally there are only two buzzes for an email, so I figured I was either getting tons of email, or somebody was calling. It’s not unusual to get a bunch of email. I get automated server messages routinely. One weekend, a server started acting up and I received over 5000 messages in a few hours. I also get Remedy notifications of tickets assigned to my group, but that rarely happens on weekends.

I picked up my BlackBerry and sure enough, it was an incoming call. But it said “Private Number”. Even though my BlackBerry number is published in my email signature, I’m not important enough to get a call on a Sunday. My agency doesn’t pay for a voice plan. We’re authorized to use our BlackBerries for business purposes, but since they pay for each individual minute, we only use them as phones when necessary. Data is unlimited.

I’m curious why people still block Caller ID. If you’re reading this and you still do, why? Do people bother to answer your calls?

I don’t. I dumped my landline in 2005 and went strictly with a cell phone. I was tired of the phone ringing all day long with nobody I wanted to talk to. Even after I went on the Do Not Call list in 2003, I kept getting calls from telemarketers who somehow believed themselves to be exempt from the law.

I had many years of peace from telemarketers, so I would answer my cell for just about any call. Then, the telemarketers started calling again. Now, I only answer numbers I recognize. If it happens to be a local area code, sometimes I will answer the phone. I’ll answer most calls from 856 and 609 in New Jersey, and 703 and 571 in Virginia. I don’t answer anything else. When I get a call from a strange number, I look it up on Google. If the number has a lot of complaints against it, I file a complaint with the government’s Do Not Call site. I’m not sure if that does any good.

I personally think cold contact telemarketing should be illegal.

When I went into real estate last year, I had a bunch of training in ways to find clients. They spent a lot of time telling us the more calls we make, the more money we’ll make. The agency I was with, Weichert, provides agents with a parsed Do Not Call list. It’s accurate to within 30 days. They actually compare the white pages against the Do Not Call list and provide numbers that can be filtered and sorted. I used it once for an open house I did. I chose numbers for streets close to the house I had listed, and made about 10 calls. After several “no longer in service” and two hang ups, I stopped. I began looking for other ways to find clients besides “Dialing for dollars”. I had a serious Golden Rule issue with that.

Most real estate brokerages will tell you it’s impossible to make money in Real Estate without cold calling. I’ve been told by other agents the reason they tell you that is because it doesn’t cost the brokerage anything.

In any case, I was hired in the Washington D.C. area to work as an IT Project Manager, which is a lot of fun and doesn’t require me to cold call anybody.

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