How Qwest Annoys Me

I like to consider myself a reasonable and tolerant individual. I know the world is not a perfect place. My newspaper does not always arrive on time and occasionally my French fries are not quite as “hot out of the deep fryer” as I might like them. These small problems in life are things that I can fairly easily overlook. When something is fundamentally messed up I have to stand up (a.k.a. turn on my computer) and let my voice be heard (a.k.a. write about it). Having said that, I call the following piece “How Qwest Annoys Me.”

The first thing to know about Qwest is they give out customer’s personal information to other companies for the sole purpose of calling me when I’m very busy trying to be asleep. When I signed up for phone service with Qwest, I gave them my personal information so they would know things like which phone line to turn on and where to send the monthly bill. As far as I can remember, they never asked me “can we distribute your name and phone number for our own profit?” Because if they did, I’m sure I would have politely turned down the offer.

Well, it turns out that Qwest has an “opt out” policy on this subject. Which means you have to go and specifically ask them to stop selling your information to other companies. I can’t imagine many people really wanting to be on this list in the first place. If Qwest adopted an “opt in” policy the list they sell would be quite a bit shorter and probably less profitable. Quite annoying, if you ask me.

Call me a bit old fashioned, but I believe that the phone company has better things to do than to keep calling me and asking me to upgrade my phone service. I am not really the type of person who pushes the envelope in this area. I’m happy with the basic functions of being able to send and receive phone calls. My attitude on this subject, however, does not seem to make Qwest very happy. Convinced I just can’t live without their latest new feature they keep calling and wanting me to upgrade. My favorite sales call occurred a few days ago when someone from Qwest wanted to sell me a service to block unidentified calls. I have to look into this feature in more detail to find out if it would really block Qwest from getting through. Maybe I’m being an idealist here, but when the phone company is trying to sell a service that keeps THEMSELVES from getting through thing have just gone a bit too far.

Maybe this whole situation is aggravated by the fact I lived in Holland for six months. My apartment, located just outside of Amsterdam, contained a telephone that to the best of my knowledge worked for the entire duration of my visit. Whenever I picked up the phone I could hear a dial tone and I was able to make a call. Whenever someone I knew called my number, the phone would ring and I would pick it up if I happened to be around. Whenever Dutch telemarketers called up trying to sell me wooden shoes or windmill time share investment opportunities…. wait a minute—that never happened. In the entire six months I didn’t receive a single phone call from someone I didn’t know. Sure, the Dutch speak their funny little elf language that nobody else in the world seems to care about, but they really have a wonderful policy on telephone solicitation.

The whole logic of long distance prefixes was pretty much thrown out the window with the introduction of “overlay” numbers. Having to dial a ten digit code to call your next door neighbor (who may very well have a different area code) defeats the whole concept. I suspect in the future we will be required to include the three digit international country code, “1”, the area code, the actual phone number followed by the caller’s height and weight, the social security number of the person trying to be reached, and the first 10 digits of Pi– “just to be safe.”

One solution I’ve come up with involves new area codes. I propose new area codes be set up making it flat out illegal for companies to make unsolicited phone calls. If a telemarketer did call one of these numbers, a special “*86” option would notify the proper authorities. This would result in the telemarketer being charged a special two dollar “user fee” that would be credited to the victim’s telephone account to compensate for the inconvenience.

I am not holding my breath for Qwest to change their annoying ways. I think my best bet its to cancel my service outright, buy a cell phone from another company, and hope the telemarketers will keep away from my new number for at least a month or two. That, or I’ll just pack up and move back to Holland.