It seems light years ago that if you heard the phone ring after walking through the front door, you had to go back inside and answer the call.
As annoying as that was, it was definitely the good old days.
Now all you have to do is reach into your pocket and pull out your phone.
I didn’t recognize the number, but the screen read the call as from Jackson, Ca.
Given the incessant number of unsolicited calls I get from people trying to save me money or sell my house, I got tired of answering.
But I have a granddaughter who lives near Jackson, so I picked up the phone.
I answered the phone as usual.
There was a significant pause. Half the time this can only mean one thing. The Robocall program tells a human that there is an active caller on the line.
The rest of the time it could be a poor initial connection from a legitimate caller.
“Dennis Wyatt,” I repeated.
I was about to hang up – for those born after 1990 it’s the same as tapping the big red circle on the screen – when I heard a familiar voice: “Is that Dennis Wyatt?”
As I started to put the phone down to tap the disconnect call icon, the lady added, “Are you interested in selling the house at?” . . “
I stopped being friendly to those callers a long time ago. I hung up.
Such telephone etiquette would have offended my grandmother. But I guarantee you, if she had lived after 1966 to experience a world of automatic calls and people eager to sell your house under you, she would have abandoned her code of civility.
I used to just think that those agricultural serial numbers trying to hook a client were simply real estate people trying to make a living.
That mindset became history in August, when I started tracking the number of unsolicited calls — at least the ones I’d tricked myself into answering — and text messages from such people.
I received no less than 19 such calls/texts in 15 days. There were also a few postcards from agents – one in Turlock and one in Stockton – who were keen to help me sell my house.
It clearly works as they need to do some business to justify the investment no matter how little it costs them to deploy robocalls.
Rest assured, however, that the actual real estate agent is unlikely to pick up the phone if their robocall scheme lands them a live troll.
That means I wanted to speak to an agent. Wasting some of their time was just as much in the spirit of wasting some of my time by flooding me with automated calls.
So I told a caller I was interested.
And yes, she put me through to the real estate agent.
I started the conversation by saying I wasn’t interested in selling.
And before I could add, “Please remove me from your call log,” he told me I missed a wonderful opportunity to take advantage of the market. He added that he could get me the top price for my house.
I responded with something like, “Really, how am I supposed to afford a new house if I don’t move? I want to stay in California, but if I were to sell I would be forced to go somewhere like Baja California.” His response: “We can help you buy a new home.”
Admittedly, I assumed a bit too much. Just as a frightening number of people believe that New Mexico is part of Mexico, I suspect even more people don’t realize that Baja California is one of the 32 states that officially make up the United States of Mexico.
He didn’t disappoint. He continued by saying he is networking with real estate agents across California, including Baja.
He wasn’t concerned about my concern that whatever I bought would cost me more than what I could get for my home.
That would have eliminated all chances that he would ever work for me.
He either didn’t listen to me, was illiterate in geography, or demonstrated that he would clearly say anything to get me to list my property with him.
I offered him some unsolicited advice of my own.
I would never hire a real estate agent to sell anything for me if he was doing tedious cold calling as early as 7am and 8pm some days on how he did business.
It also doesn’t take long to find out that many such agents using robocalls are of such high ethics that the company using them routes calls through areas such as nearby cities to trick you into believing it is is a local call. You can verify this by trying to call the number back a few days later and finding that it no longer exists.
As for the texts, I received the next one after that from another property with annoying technology looking for a payday which I decided to reply to.
I have already replied to SMS to activate the “opt-out”. Most of the time they don’t “delete” me from their call logs.
I thought I was being pretty smart when I texted back, “I’m not interested. I am busy dealing with a fire that has destroyed much of my home.”
I was beyond surprised when a few hours later I received a text message back with a phone number to call and telling me they can help sell the property even if the house is fire damaged.”
Robocall real estate agents put a good name on lawyers chasing ambulances.
Believe me, I understand the value of being represented by a real estate agent no matter what side of a home sale you are on. But if and when I sell my home I will never use anyone who thinks I would entrust the biggest investment of my life to someone using robocalls to boost business.
Real estate agents who use robocalls are fairly tame and respectful compared to other types of business trolling.
A spot is reserved in Hell where a pair of smartphones are strapped to their heads and will ring for eternity for unsolicited callers, such as those claiming to be from “PG&E’s natural gas division looking to save me money on my monthly gas bill.”
Given that my natural gas hill costs less than a meal for two at Chipotle, they’re clearly not from PG&E. Also, I don’t think PG&E is looking to reduce revenue from customers.
I understand that part of the reason I’m being bombarded with calls like this is due to the callers’ cursory research centered on the fact that I’m in the 65+ category.
One such woman called me at 4 p.m. every day for four days in a row and made her pitch.
I told her I wasn’t interested and should take myself off the list.
On the fifth day she called back, I left it here. I wasn’t cordial. I was angry. Really annoyed.
Guess what she told me?
“You don’t have to be rude.”
Apparently I do.
If I tell you to stop calling not once but four times, you’re begging me to be rude to you.
This column represents the opinion of the editor, Dennis Wyatt, and does not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Bulletin or 209 Multimedia. He can be reached at [email protected]