Saturday, July 26, 2008

Automated Phone Calls

I am sitting in the library at home re-reading the ClueTrain Manifesto when the phone rings. It is a machine telling me "I am calling about the vehicle you currently have listed for sale. We can sell it for you faster and for a higher price".

First disturbing thing - I have no vehicle currently listed for sale.

Second disturbing thing - my home phone number is unlisted.

Third disturbing thing - my son does have a boat he is selling and listed it on Craigslist with this phone number.

Fourth and last disturbing thing - I hung up fast and the damn phone rang again with the automated call still talking. I hung up again and the phone rang immediately again with the automated message still talking. I could not hang up on this thing until it hung up on me. How did they do that?

Surely no real person would ever do business with a company so low as to have its computer call you and not allow you to hang up. These people deserve to be taken out back and have some convincing done.

But worst, now my beloved Craigslist is compromised in my mind. Some bot is out there pulling this data into its robot phone sales person and invading my life. I don't blame Craigslist but regardless I am now more circumspect about using them in the future. I suppose I will resort to proxy phone numbers but that will hurt my ability to interact with the people I want to call.

How appropriate that I was reading Cluetrain. Maybe the bot and its master should be required to read it also. Maybe a good Turing test for people to prove they are people not computers would be to be able to tell they can tell the people they are talking at were also people.

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