I was listening to the Adam Buxton podcast the other day.
He was talking about phones. It was a fairly banal conversation with comedian Darren Harriott.
They discussed ringtones.
Back in the day, you could pay £1.50 for one, more recently the bottom has fallen out of that market as they invented apps that enabled you to sample your own music as your ringtone (that’s what I have) (Edinburgh Man, The Fall) or as is the situation with people, particularly the yooths, there is no ring. There might be a vibrate if you are lucky.
The days of phone conversations are numbered.
I don’t mind chatting on the phone.
I have a serious problem with cold calls, that is, people ringing me out of the blue.
If you want to encounter Rod’s dark-side, cold call him when he is expecting a call from someone else, ‘Pause… May I speak with Mr Rodney…’
The main reason I don’t like being called is that I am usually doing something else. For example, were someone to ring me now, they would interrupt my typing.
Modern-man is not big on intrusions.
I suspect that is because there are so many intrusions that we can’t avoid such as my work desktop setup, the Netflix ping, the sound of traffic or the flash-up adds on free apps.
Am I being narky?
It’s lack of sleep and tinnitus in my left ear; the free ear plugs helped but I still have, ‘Send Sally to the sandbox, baby’ ear-worming.
Where was I?
What’s this go to do with Almondemotions? Well, I wanted to first describe the lack of ringtones and bells in my life; I don’t, like many people of my generation use the landline at all (no idea of my home phone number – funnily I can remember my childhood number 638 5356 and Essie’s, 638 7519, but not my own.)
And that is because I prefer texts.
‘Please don’t phone me, text,’ I will tell people.
You can ghost, delay, emoji respond.
Have I adapted to text or have texts adapted to me?
Well, you see, just as the phone rarely rings in my house, if you spend time with some old folk, their phone sometimes doesn’t stop.
Depending on their seniority, this could be friends calling, although when they become very old, and their friends have died, it might be the hospital or the social services.
For a big group, the calls are from, ‘…Hi, is that Mr Almond… I understand you are interested in purchasing one of our Covid protection devices?’
‘No, this is Mrs Almond, Mr Almond died last year, I am afraid I am not interested in…’
‘Apologies, if you could spare me a few minutes of your time…’
And so on.
During house calls, I hear this from time to time.
Without being ageist (as demonstrated by my last blog), I find older people are the biggest suckers for telesales/rip-offs.
Many are savvy, they use ‘BT Call-Minder’ – this requires you to ‘Say your name, then press the hash-key’
‘Hello, it’s Rod from Almondemotion, calling about your…’
The person then has the choice to ignore or accept.
Some folk have gone all out and have, ‘This telephone does not accept calls from anonymous numbers,’ which cuts you off without discussion.
I called a patient last week.
After the third call (first the line went dead, the second, I could hear her hanging up) she said, ‘I’m on the phone!’ and ended the call.
It later transpired she was on her mobile to her bank. She’d been scammed out of £1000.
How I hate the scammers.
I have come close to being caught once, it was a horrible, intrusive experience.
Statistically it seems that younger people most fall prey to scams, which surprises me. I suspect the bigger hits are the older folk.
It is a murky world.
‘No cold callers’ doesn’t work anymore. They have your number. And your email. They can spook your bank or insurance phone number.
If a fraudster calls an old lady who trips on the way to the phone, is that assault? If they die what then?
Cybersecurity itself is a scam as none of it comes free; it is a peace of mind assurance.
What can you do?
I suppose the best is not to answer your phone.
Those obsolete land-lines have their days numbered
Will GDPR protect us?
When I have spoken to the bank after the scammers have pursued me they acknowledge there is nothing they can do, the fact I caught the scammers in the act means they are particularly powerless, if I’d shared some cash the police might have become involved.
And here is me worrying about frailty.
One narrative says is that it’s OK to target the old as they are rich, Boomers of whatever.
Most are vulnerable.
They feel pain, they feel happiness.
They are you or me in a few years.
We are not apart.
The last time I was visiting a patient and a scammer called, obvious to me from the ‘…’ I was tempted to grab the phone and attack them back.
I sat quietly.
Listening to the bots whirr.
Listening to my patient’s vulnerability played-out on the wires.
Let’s get IDLES on the case.
What would they do?