Telemarketers: Why Are They Still Legal?

“We’re supposed to be on the Do Not Call list. Why do they keep calling?”

“Who, crazy Aunt Ida and Uncle Iggy?”

“No, telemarketers, they drive me crazy!”

“Why don’t you write a column about it?”

 “Good idea honey,”  I muttered as I picked the phone up off the floor and searched for the batteries.

“Will it be in the paper this Sunday?”

“Uh, um…” I stuffed the batteries back in the phone, snapped on the cover and put it back in its charger.  “I, uh, I dunno don’t you have homework?”

“Yeah guess we both have deadlines,” he quipped as he ducked and ran upstairs. I hate it when my kids are right.

I sat down at my desk and stared at the blank screen. Checked Facebook. Went back to my blank screen. Finally my mind kicked into gear and I started typing. As I was trying to figure out if the exclamation point went in or outside of the quotation marks, the phone rang. The Caller ID displayed, “Unknown Caller”. Typically, we ignore these calls because “Unknown Caller” spelled backwards is, “Telemarketer.”

However, the other number that shows up as “Unknown” is my husband’s office.  Being the gem he is, Scott calls about this time each day to say he’s on his way home and ask if we need anything. Desperate for Chardonnay and anything resembling dinner, I answered the phone. “Hello!  Is Scottm there?”  Instead of being annoyed, I had to stifle a snarf since the poor girl sounded so serious.  “No, you have the wrong number.”

“Oh, um, is it just Scott?  Is Scott there?” I lied, “No, you still have the wrong number.”

“It’s the wrong number?”  I silently repeated my mantra, “At least she’s working for a living…at least she’s…” but really, what part of wrong number did she not understand?  “Yes dear, goodbye.” Click.

Two decades ago, Scott’s name was listed with his Delta Frequent Flyer program as “Scottm”.  Subsequently, we’ve received approximately 732 pieces of junk mail addressed to Scottm M. Rinehart, Scottm Rinehart and Mr. Scottm.  A few have been addressed to my alter ego, Mrs. Karen Scottm.  This was, surprisingly, the first time a live person ever used the name.

Apparently charitable organizations and companies with whom we do business are exempt from the Do Not Call rules — though if we ask them to take us off their list, they must.  With that knowledge, I typically remain calm, repeat my “At least they’re working…” mantra and say, “Please take our name off your list. Thank you. Goodbye.”  Click.

I was going cross eyed over my final column edits, the dogs were barking at the neighbor’s cat and my children had obviously been suddenly stricken deaf when the phone rang again. Surely it was Scott this time.  “Hello! Is Karen Rinehart there?”  Without hesitation I answered, “No. She died.” [long pause] “Oh oh, I’m SO sorry!” came the horrified voice at the other end. “Thank you for your sympathy. Please take her name off your list. Thank you. Goodbye.”  Click.

Karen Rinehart's columns appear Sundays in the Independent Tribune. Her website is KarenJRinehart.com.