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Hedelt: Columnist bids farewell to land-line scammers
BY ROB HEDELT
THE FREE LANCE-STAR
IT sounds a little strange to admit it, but I’ll soon miss the fools who’ve been calling to scam me once or twice a week.
That’s because our household is joining millions of others by getting rid of our old-style, land-line telephone.
We’re doing it for two reasons: The high cost of cellphone service makes it unpalatable to pay for redundant service; and no one we want to talk to calls us on that line, anyway.
Most of the land-line calls come from the would-be scammers with foreign accents who’ve been trying to pull the dumbest scams on me. They infuriated me at first, asking for “Rob Jr.” when they called the house.
OK, technically, I am a Junior. But because my dad passed away nearly 50 years ago, the suffix hasn’t been all that necessary.
But my pals at Scams Are Us have used it every time they’ve called.
First, they were going to give me big prize money if I just gave them some simple information. Later, one tried to pose as the president of Publishers Clearing House, saying all that was required to get great riches was to sign up and pay for a few subscriptions.
At other times, they were doing polls, selling other products and, it seemed to me, making up anything that came to mind to bilk me of information or money.
Not long ago, they called on a bad day and I let go a tirade that went something like, “How stupid do you think we are? You call every week, ask for Rob Jr. and then mumble some stupid come-on that a first-grader would laugh at. Enough already!”
There was only a brief pause before he answered, “[Blank] you, Rob.”
It may have been the only honest thing he or his pals ever said. For a moment it made me laugh, but phone calls like his joined robo-calls, political polls, solicitations from charities and the sound of countless hang-ups each week as reasons to cut the cord.
It is a little scary at first, the thought of losing that hardwired, always-powered connection to the outside world.
What happens in a hurricane or a storm that takes out power for a long time?
Well, in a household where there are three and sometimes four cellphones, chances are good that someone will have service and a fully charged battery. If worse comes to worst, we start a car and charge one for a minute.
The real mover in this decision is how much all this phone service costs.
One of the things I hate about each new round of technology is how it adds another layer of monthly costs that don’t go away.
Free TV gives way to cable, which is cool, but costs and costs. Add a DVR, and another fee continues.
Cellphones that seem cheap early become a major monthly expense as minutes, phones, data plans, tablets and more are added.
Before you know it, you’re paying thousands a year for the same TV-watching and phone calling—albeit, in many cooler incarnations, with so many more capabilities—that used to cost you nothing or fairly little.
The funny thing lately is how many people want to sell us their phone and TV service, all of them scrambling to get in touch with us online, through the mail and, yes, by phone to promote something they claim is better and cheaper.
We’re switching to the cheapest hardwired plan there is: none.
My next step: telling my cable company I want more for less or I’m bolting.
Its competition is offering a deal. And so far, nobody pitching it has called me Rob Jr.
Rob Hedelt: 540/374-5415