We canceled our home phone service today due to extreme lack of use, overly-present charitable gift solicitation and AT&T’s apparent lack of interest in preventing third-party and unauthorized services from being added to our account by individuals other than account owners. We use our cell phones for everything and our home phone was a nice 5.8GHz cordless unit we’ve had for a while but which wouldn’t work in the case where the power went out anyway. We also have cable for high-speed internet and don’t have a fax machine outside of scanning and emailing documents. Consequently, there was simply no value to be gained from paying the $26 or so a month for a home phone line and thus we have it no more.
It’s not unreasonable to say that nearly the only people who ever call us on our home phone are solicitors looking for donations. We’ve been on the do not call list since we had the phone number at our house but had unwittingly given it to a charity group when making a donation a few years ago. That was a huge mistake that I will not be repeating that again. Eventually, our phone number had been passed around to what seemed like a hundred different organizations and all of them were just looking for money for their group. Perhaps the most annoying of these is “MPI” a professional solicitation group that feels like nothing more than a call center full of people trying to collect donations for somewhat reasonable groups like the Fraternal Order of Police, but also odd-sounding groups such as retired fire chiefs… and then worthless organizations like monkeys who have lost their bananas, Slinkys who have lost their tension and ice cream eating veterans of America with brain freeze, amongst seemingly and endless list of others. The moment we gave to one (FOP) we were being hounded by all the rest (though obviously I’m kidding about the Slinkys).
Now telling a solicitor “no” is nothing new and, while it might be a little annoying, isn’t a reason in and of itself to cancel a phone line. No, the bigger problem that I had with the phone line was the yearly phone slamming (cramming and other terms have been used, too) that was happening on our line where third party services were being added to our account without our authorization. There’s a huge marketing “industry” out there of fraudulent businesses and agents that, using nothing more than your name, address and a junk email address, sign phone numbers up by submitting them to billing websites. The hope is that you will either not check your bill and so pay for the service or that they can sell you on keeping the service when you call to cancel it blindly. AT&T knows this (all phone companies or even telco installers know this) and yet will not let you prevent this from happening by adding any feature to your account. So every year we would get one bill that came across at about double what our regular rate was ($26 for basic service looks obvious when you are billed for $45+ after the junk service has been added) and all for a phone we didn’t use. Plus I can’t tell you how annoying it is to call crap services like those and have to cancel your account, demand your money back (most of the time you will have to pursue that end vigorously) clear your name and data from their system (which you can really never confirm by reasonable means) … it’s quite an unwanted hassle.
I have no idea why we waited so long to cancel our home phone service – that’s about $300 a year for at least 2 years (if not 3) that we could have kept in our pockets. And I can’t even count the number of cranky solicitors we had to talk to during that time. And I haven’t even mentioned the issue about our phone number being just one digit off from a local pizza delivery place – oh yeah, big fun there.
So if you’re looking to call me or Natalie use the cell phones. And if you’re looking for a donation to your esteemed retired chess players with arthritis united foundation you can seek funding elsewhere.