This isn’t my first rodeo

When I first started seeing Herself, I didn’t have a cell-phone. This situation became untenable, so I purchased one of those Pay-As-You-Go phones, and have been — mostly — happy ever since.

I find the no-contract thing to be a great relief, and for a little over a dollar a day I get unlimited phone calls and unlimited texts for a month.

Plus, I find that walking into a business, setting a couple of anonymous $20 bills on the counter, and receiving a code that I input into the phone for another months service — no address required, no information exchanged, no credit card number handed over  — to be damned civilized.

Unfortunately, the anonymity that I love is also desired by other people, people who may have a better reason for anonymity than I do.

As a for instance, this sort of easily-dumped phone is — apparently — often used as a business phone by those whose business might tend to be frowned upon by Society At Large, or otherwise tend to attract the attention of the Minions of The State.

Say that you are a Purveyor of Recreational Pharmaceuticals. You get one of these phones, the heat gets too close, you dump it in a garbage bin. No muss, no fuss. 

 Unfortunately, the phone company doesn’t know about the black-market side-business, so when you don’t re-up the number after a certain amount of time they re-issue the number.

For example, one of the very first texts I received on my brand-new phone — I wasn’t even sure what a text was at the time — went something like this:


Huh, thinks I. I do believe that I am being asked to provide street-level amounts of marijuana. I should probably notify narcotics, but then I’d lose my two-hour-old phone to evidence for six months over a misdemeanor nickel bust, and that’s just not cricket.

So, I squinted at the manual until I understood how to call a number which had texted, did so, set the phone on the table, waited until the screen announced that the other party had picked up — then I lit three Black Cat firecrackers and started begging for my life in tones most piteous.

Of course, after the three fireworks went off, I stopped begging. Out of courtesy, you understand. Might have dropped a chair next to the table, too, come to think. Then I dragged the phone off the table, snarled, “Get his [deleted] phone. We’ll find every [deleted] [deleted] the thieving mother[deleted] sold my [deleted] to and take it out of their [deleted] skin!”

Apparently the person on the other end didn’t have the couth to stay on the line for the denouement of my extemporaneous little performance. Hmph. That earned that number a place on the Blocked list.

Between that sort of thing, and the exclaiming to various lady(?) friends that I was so happy they texted, that I thought they’d never speak to me again over the whole “Lying about not having herpes” business, followed up by declaring my Eternal Devotion to [Insert Random Female Name Here] and That Trick She Did With Her Tongue …

… Well, the unsolicited calls from people I didn’t know dropped precipitously. I like to assume that low-level assaults by enraged women upon the previous owner of my phone number went up by the same amount, but I have no data on that.

Anyhoo, while that part was amusing, less amusing was the fact that Sumdood Critter was apparently either a lousy dealer, or a lousy money manager, because I also received calls from a collections agency looking for him.

I would usually spend about a month telling the agency that I wasn’t “Mr Sumdood Critter”, that this number was a Pay-As-You-Go phone number, that I had no idea where Mr Sumdood Critter might be found. They’d finally get the hint, but after a couple of months they’d sell their list of uncollected debts to another agency and we’d start all over again.

Finally after a couple of years of this, I asked the earnest drone from the latest collections agency to put me through to her supervisor. When that worthy answered I explained — yet again — that I was not Sumdood Critter, that my name was LawDog, that this number was from a Pay-As-You-Go phone, and that I would like him to do something for me.

He said that he would, and I asked him to put this call on ‘hold’, and then to dial this other number and ask the person that answered to put him through to LawDog.

He said that he would, and less than a minute later, Dispatch calls me and says that I have a call, and wold I like them to put it through? I tell them to go ahead, they do, and I answer with my title and job.

There is a long pause on the line, and then the supervisor says that he’s really sorry, and that he’ll deal with it.

Not so fast sez I. Since I’ve been told that exact same thing for a couple of years now, I want the full name of the supervisor that I am speaking to. He hems a bit, my LawDog voice comes out, and I have his full name, and the full name and address of the collections agency he works for, which I then verify using the office Internet connection, correcting the two transposed numbers on the address.

Then I gently inform him that I am now holding him personally responsible for any further harassment. I further suggest that my number be removed from the records of this debt. He agrees. I further suggest that he ensure that my number doesn’t sneak into any lists of uncollected debts sold down the line. He fervently agrees, we part on amiable terms and I’ve not been bothered by any calls looking for that particular critter in some years since.

This new one? I’m a little rusty, but I’ll bet it’ll come back to me.


That's odd
In which Your Humble Scribe becomes mildly irritated with ...

22 thoughts on “This isn’t my first rodeo”

  1. HO HO, sir. I was having the same problem when I first got my contract phone. I called a friend and got his permission to use his phone number for a project. The next time I got THAT call, I told them that I had a phone number that would resolve their problem and read off my friend's number.

    "Attoreny General's office. How may I help you?"

  2. SLess amusing, more effictive. The Missus, who is leagues ahead of me in cellphone protocols told me simply to turn the damn thing off at bedtime. Then delete any calls from numbers I was unfamiliar with in the AM when I got up. My friends and business contacts soon learned not to expect answers after 10 PM and emergencies are handled as they were before cellphones, in good time.

    I was a busy camper for a few weeks at first, but now not so much. As a retired person with time on my hands, I usually answer my phone from unknown or blocked ID's: "Hello, Plantum and Overcharge Funeral Directors LLC, may we dispose of your problem?" Very few problems since.

  3. Confound it all! I'm not sure whether to curse you for making me nearly wake my children with laughter or thank you for inspiring me.

    Unlike you, I've had my phone on contract for 10+ years (same number that whole time). However, some buffoon at Blue Shield mixed up and *I'm* getting calls about various medical appointments for a Ms. *****.

    Next time they call, I'm going to have a plan…

  4. I posted this on your last post, but I'll do it again here. It's worth it to keep it in mind. All of the below information is easily verifiable.

    The Federal Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) section 805.c.3 states that upon request from a consumer, the agency in question MUST cease all further communications with few exceptions such as contacting you to request your legal representation's contact information, contacting you to tell you they've received your notice and that they are ceasing communication.

    This is not reliant on technology, meaning that they CANNOT say "Oh, it takes 48 hours to get it out of our automated dialer." This is REQUIRED by law.

    They may attempt to contact you one time per day to attempt to resolve the debt. Any more than that is harassment.

    That's two strikes against them.

    If they're using crappy language against you, that also is illegal. You didn't say that, but the whole Free Speech thing has limits for them.

    Get a lawyer, get the information sent to them giving notice with intent to sue, and you'll see the standard $3,500 (or so) settlement per incident.

    Go collect, sir.

  5. I'm told that texting back "Sgt. Norris, XXPD/SO Narcotics, we're booking your supplier, how can I help you?" tends to abruptly terminate those seeking a hookup of the recreational pharmaceutical variety. Of course, it's just a rumor…

    I also wouldn't have any direct knowledge of taping the voicemail Hell recording from the State Dept. Of Consumer Affairs et al, and then making it one's de facto cellphone voicemail greeting for the benefit of overzealous bill collectors.

    But I do have some experience with a landline number that was one digit off from the local beer and spirits wholesaler. I can state authoritatively that after the first 100 wrong numbers, it was far more fun to simply take the phone orders, give them a 10% discount, and assure them their order would be ready pronto.

    The wrong number phone calls tapered off remarkably fast.

    And welcome back to the Intarwebz, LD.
    The search party has been called off.

    Best regards,

  6. For the first year after the local Applebee's opened, we used to get calls around 11pm on our land line asking if we were still open. It didn't happen too often, and the fact that we basically never answer the landline, or even clear out the online messaging service mailbox now that we have one, has probably helped. (We keep the number for emergencies, for when the cell phones die, and having had the number for 15 years, a certain amount of nostalgia.)

    At the new address after a year and a half I think we've finally stopped getting collections calls for the folks who lived there over three years ago. Either that, or we've just trapped all their calls in our full message box limbo.

  7. This is unrelated to today's posting, Lawdog, but I'm sufficiently clueless as to how to reach you. I have a question re: tracking and also want to commend you for the Oct. 26, 2007 posting about "Mr. Johnson". I'm in a forensic field (not a LEO) and would kindly ask your guidance in an area that I'm certain you could help, Sir.
    If you don't mind that, I'd be happy to send you my contact info (and bona- fides) in whatever venue works for you. Well aware, of course that you guard your privacy closely. I'm in Denton, not too far away, I believe.

    Either way, thanks, and please keep up the great writing.

  8. For quite a while, our phone number was one digit off from both a Toys R Us and a local petroleum supplier. Eventually, I just let everything go to voicemail (unless I was expecting a call), and left a long, detailed VM announcement that noted that this was *not* a business of any sort, much less the two specified ones, and that *if* someone left info they *may* recieve a call back, if we felt like it…

    It's also long enough that robocallers tend to run out of recording before the VM starts. (heheheh)

    I'm also debating opening any call with a bland recorded-voice rendition of "This call is being recorded for quality and legal purposes", and see how many hangups I get from telemarketing or collection-agency types – I keep getting calls from people who refuse to ID themselves/their company.

    Also, welcome back, 'Dog – it appears y'all kinda built up some snark while you were away, and it's bloody awesome to see it being released now.

  9. Its stuff like this that makes you wish that BugScuffle had a nice Dot Mil bird farm. Nothing says Take me off your phone list like a fully loaded Hogbird.

    (first rocket has the formal written request second one… (is that the sound of a Vulcan winding up??)

    LawDog can you do anything about the antibot thing being unreadable 40% of the time??

  10. @Ygolonaca: that is my situation sort of at work. My hospital is informally known as "last name" hospital. The official name is "First Name","Middle Initial" "Last Name" Hospital. For years (and even today, I just checked) if you went to and punched in LN Hosp you would get the main switchboard number, but if you put in the full name, the only number for the main campus to come up is the medical library's direct line. I have a long voice mail to the effect that this is the library and if you need any other department hang up and call ###-###-####. I don't answer the phone unless I recognize the number, and I'd say I get messages on less than 5% of my calls.

  11. Dawg, my dad's private office line is a couple of transposed numbers off a certain 'left-handed' DC congresscritter in our area. You may know her, and have seen her butt her nose into anything and everything that has nothing to do with anything but her.

    On occasion, when he has nothing better to do, he'll field a call (usually when she's in DC) from one of her constituents. I think she still owes one caller a new car, fridge, and the removal of some power lines that broadcast "I Love Lucy" reruns into his molars.

    She has taken exception to this. Dad has used the number for over 20 years. I think dibs are his. She sent nasty-grams, voice mails, emails, and even a bona fide lackey to get him to switch numbers. She even threatened to sue. Dad's response: "Challenge accepted." It doesn't pay to mess with a prominent civil attorney. Funny, she doesn't bother him anymore.

  12. Does anybody know of some good sermons on The Gospel According to John(mb) on the subject of trying to force somebody to move off property just because its 'difficult'?

    Also sermons on the subject of TAKE ME OFF YOUR PHONE LIST would be helpful.

  13. Every debt collection MANAGER knows the laws within the FDCPA. 805-c-3. If they violate that, they WILL LOSE a lawsuit. If you offer to let it slide as long as they abide by it one last time, they will.

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