By Anessa V. Cohen
We all enjoy technology. I do not know if we could even function on a day-to-day basis anymore if we did not have all of our gadgets to help us along the way.
Our mainstay has become the computer. Whether we use a desktop, laptop, iPad, Kindle, or any of the many other varied models in any of their sizes, I do not think any of us can deal with even the simplest tasks anymore without one. We download bank statements on Quicken to fill spreadsheets for all kinds of budget balancing, use Outlook for e-mail and contact lists, download documents, search the Internet . . . programs and apps have almost become as essential to our lives as eating, drinking, and sleeping.
Cellphones have become the most popular tool. Not only are they small and lightweight (down from those huge models 20 years ago, weighing at least five pounds, which were the state-of-the-art back then) but they offer hundreds of apps, to give us the equivalent of tiny portable offices. These mighty little cellphones now give us Internet, e-mail, WhatsApp, GPS, cameras, videos, Documents to Go, and so much more.
Now, I must interrupt this interlude of peaceful contemplation with the downside of what else the technological age has brought us: “robocalls.” I do not think there is anyone alive today who has not been disturbed during the early hours of the morning or the late hours of the evening, during dinner, a TV show, or while enjoying company, or has not been inundated all day with these nuisance calls either selling you something or announcing a new raffle that you just must buy a ticket for . . . sometimes four times a day. The worst ones are the calls coming in on Shabbos and ringing endlessly waiting for someone to pick up, which means that if you do not disconnect your landline phone or turn off your cellphone before Shabbos, you are stuck listening to the constant rings of these marketing companies.
It is too bad that with all the technology out there, nobody has created an app whereby I can reach into the phone when I get one of these calls and take away their receiver so they cannot torture anyone ever again. This might be a very lucrative app, if someone could come up with it.
The Do Not Call List—which the feds created to assist us—has helped us get some relief from the worst of it, by registering our phone numbers on a list so that marketing demons would be forbidden to call and pester us on a regular basis. When the Do Not Call List first came out, this was great, since the number of whichever marketing company was calling would come up on the Caller ID screen and we could report them and they would get fined accordingly. This, alas, was when marketing people used landlines.
Today, with the new technology, we are once again getting inundated with marketing calls, usually from individuals whose English we cannot understand, calling us now for surveys, discount gas and electric companies, new credit cards, banks, and a whole series of fake and real charities and organizations needing contributions—all looking for us at inconvenient times of the day (any time a marketing company calls is an inconvenient time of the day!).
Now the Do Not Call List does little to help, since most of these calls are coming from India or thereabouts, and the phone numbers they use are computer phone numbers hooked up to modems that bypass the Do Not Call List jurisdiction. Even when it is listed as 212 or 516, the call is coming from halfway across the world, so go try to fine them and collect. There is no reason for them to stop torturing us.
Today, I heard a new one! Because so many people are hanging up the phones when they hear the thick accent from the caller on the line, the marketing companies have been trying to figure out new ways of torturing people and keeping them from hanging up so fast. What is their latest piece of technology? When a marketing rep calls someone here from India, instead of speaking with a heavy accent, a new computer program has been created which speaks to the person on the line with an American accent, telling them they are speaking to a live person. This so-called “live person” computer person is probably similar to Siri of iPhone fame. Whatever question the person on the phone asks, this “live person” answers them as if they are human and having a conversation. The pièce de résistance of this marketing program is really good for a laugh. Sitting behind this “live person” talking computer program will still be the heavy accented Indian marketing rep, not talking, but taking down the information in the event something is sold by the “live person.” This is the new marketing indignity! v
Anessa Cohen lives in Cedarhurst and is a licensed real-estate broker and a licensed N.Y.S. mortgage originator with over 20 years of experience, offering full-service residential, commercial, and management real-estate services (Anessa V Cohen Realty) and mortgaging services (First Meridian Mortgage). She can be reached at 516-569-5007 or via her website, www.AVCrealty.com. Readers are encouraged to send questions or comments to anessa.cohen@AVCrealty.com.