It seems light years ago that if you heard the phone ring after you went out the front door that you had to go back inside and answer it.
As annoying as that may have been it definitely was the good old days.
Now all you have to do is reach into your pocket and pull your phone out.
I didn’t recognize the number but the screen was listing the call as originating from Jackson, Ca.
I was weary of answering given the incessant number of unsolicited calls I receive from people who are eager to save me money or sell my house.
But I do have a granddaughter who lives near Jackson so I answered the phone.
I answered the phone as I usually do.
There was a significant pause. Half the time this can only mean one thing. The robocall program is announcing to a human that they’ve got a live one on the line.
The rest of the time it could be a bad initial connection from a legitimate caller.
“Dennis Wyatt,” I repeated.
I was about to hang up — to those born after 1990 it means the same as tap the big red circle on your screen — when I heard a familiar voice, “Is this Dennis Wyatt?”
As I started to lower the phone to tap the call disconnect icon, the lady added, “Are you interested in selling the home at . . . “
I stopped being cordial with such callers long ago. I hung up.
Such phone etqiuette would have mortified my grandmother. But I guarantee if she had lived past 1966 to experience a world of robocalls and people eager to sell your house out from under you she would have abandoned her code for politeness.
I used to just think those farming sequential numbers trying to hook a client were simply real estate people trying to make a living.
That attitude became history in August when I started logging the number of unsolicited phone calls — at least the ones I was tricked into answering — and texts from such folks.
I received no less than 19 such calls/texts over 15 days. That was in addition to a couple of post cards from agents — one in Turlock and one in Stockton — eager to help me sell my house.
Clearly it works as they have to get some business to justify the investment regardless of how little it costs them to employ robocalls.
Rest assured, though, the actual real estate agent likely isn’t picking up the phone when their robocall program trolling lands them a live one.
That said I wanted to talk to an agent. It was as much in the spirit of wasting some of their time as they had wasted some of my time by flooding me with robocalls.
So, I told a caller that I was interested.
And yes, she connected me with the real estate agent.
I started the conversation by saying I was not interested in selling.
And before I could add “please take me off your call list” he proceeded to tell me I was missing out on a wonderful opportunity to take advantage of the market. He added he could get me top dollar for my house.
I replied with something along the line, “really, then how am I going to afford a new house unless I move. I want to stay in California but if I sold I’d be forced to go someplace like Baja California.” His reply, “We can help you with buying a new home.”
Admittedly, I was assuming a bit too much. Just as a scary number of people believe New Mexico is part of Mexico, I assume even more don’t realize Baja California is one of the 32 states that make up what is officially called the United States of Mexico.
He didn’t disappoint. He continued by saying he networks with real estate agents throughout California including Baja.
He wasn’t worried about my concern about whatever I bought would cost me more than what I could get for my home.
That enough would have eliminated all chances of him ever working on my behalf.
He either wasn’t listening to me, was illiterate in basic geography, or demonstrated he clearly would say anything to get me to list my property with him.
I offered him some unsolicited advice of my own.
I would never use a real estate agent to sell anything for me if making annoying cold calls as early as 7 a.m. some days and as late as 8 p.m. was how he did business.
It also doesn’t take long to figure out that many such agents who use robocalls are of such high ethics that the firm they use routes calls through areas such as nearby towns to make you think it’s a local call. You can check this by trying to call the number back a few days later and discovers it no longer exists.
As for texts, the next one I got after that from a different real estate using annoying technology foraging for a pay day I decided to respond to.
I have replied to texts before to activate the “opt” out. Most of the time they don’t “opt” me out of their call lists.
I thought I was being rather clever when I texted back, “I’m not interested. I’m busy trying to deal with a fire that destroyed much of my home.”
I was more than a bit surprised when a few hours later I got a text back with a phone number to call while telling me that they can help be sell the property even if the house is fire damaged.”
Robocall real estate agents give lawyers that chase ambulances a good name.
Believe me, I understand the value of being represented by a real estate agent regardless of what side of a home sale you are on. But If and when I go to sell my house I will never use someone who believes I would entrust the biggest investment of my lifetime to someone who employs robocalls to dredge up business.
Real estate agents who use robocalls are pretty tame and respectful compared to other species that troll for business.
There is a place reserved in Hell where a pair of smartphones are secured to their heads and ring for eternity for unsolicited callers such as for those supposedly from “PG&E’s natural gas department eager to save me money on my monthly natural gas bill.
Given the fact my natural gas hill is less than the cost of a meal for two at Chipotle clearly they aren’t from PG&E. Besides, I don’t think PG&E is eager to reduce revenue from customers.
I get part of the reason why I’m bombarded by such calls is based on the callers’ shallow research which centers around the fact I’m in the 65 and older category.
One such woman called me daily for four days in a row at 4 p.m. making her pitch.
I told her I wasn’t interested and to take me off the list.
On the fifth day she called back, I let here have it. I wasn’t cordial. I was irked. Really irked.
Guess what she told me?
“You don’t have to be rude.”
Apparently I do.
If I tell you not once but four times to stop calling you are begging for me to be rude to you.
This column is the opinion of editor, Dennis Wyatt, and does not necessarily represent the opinions of The Bulletin or 209 Multimedia. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org