Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Why We Stopped Answering the Landline


    We have had a conventional telephone in our home for a long as we have been a household. When we built both of our farms,(one after the other) great consideration and planning was given to making sure that outlets existed in the places we would ultimately use phones, faxes or other devices. Sometimes, we have had two landlines, one for the household and another for my husband's business or for for farm business.

                  In the 1990s we got a couple of cell phones, not because we really used them, but because with a newly Type I diabetic child, we thought it prudent to be able to call for help, in the car, or anywhere else. At first, the cell phones were barely reliable. In the country we still have many places that are dead cell zones, or strangely automatic drop call zones.  As the years have passed the phones and the availability of cell sites have improved.  Today, all of our family has their own cell phones and we tend to call one another directly, while bypassing the landline. Months can pass before I actually need to make a call on the house landline.   We keep the house landline for a number of reasons.  First, the landline provides not only phone service, but sufficient electricity in the line to power phone service when the power is out.  Being able to call for help or report an outage is very important.  Secondly, the sheriff's office can immediately pinpoint the location of a 911 call, if we call them, and had to hang up.  A cell call can be triangulated for location, but not as easily and certainly not as quickly.  Thirdly, we have a coast to coast free call program with our landline which is quite cost effective.  I don't even mind the monthly fee we pay to the phone company to keep the number unlisted.
                There was a time when the security system here was connected to the landline phone, and would automatically call the sheriff's office.  Now, a wireless system to do the same exists.  The security system no longer depends upon the landline service.

               However, in the last couple of years I have rethought the landline phone.  Those creating databases of potential purchasers or mark,s no longer need a name with a number.  Calls are made in sequence and telemarkers or con artists will talk to anyone who answers.   We also get a huge number of calls from pollsters who want to know how we plan to vote in everything from primaries to presidential elections should they be held today.   I don't give opinions to people I don't know.  I don't talk to people who call and don't know the name of the people they have called.  I won't even talk to the NRA which calls incessantly to get additional funding and can't get my name or sex right.   So many calls we receive on the landline are time consuming and not really intended for us, that I no longer answer it.  Real calls come to my cell or to the cells of other family members.   Not answering the calls also has negative results.   I have an answering machine which picks up the first ten minutes worth of recorded messages.  I keep this because if the power goes out when we are away, we can call the house and if the answering machine message answers then the power is back.  We have a secondary voicemail through the phone company.  They pick up with a different message if our answering machine has ten minutes worth of messages or if the power is out.   It takes time to weed through both message venues. Calls can be so frequent that both message modes can be full in a week. The IRS scams I posted about clogged our landline message systems for a couple of weeks.

             Last year I made the mistake of looking into completing an additional college degree online.  When I reviewed details of the curriculum I found that this particular program would not be of interest to me, and so I have chosen against completing at this location.  On several occasions I indicated this.  I now receive five calls a week from a reputable university asking me when I wish to begin there.   No one seems to be able to successfully notate that I have passed on the opportunity.

This is the phone my parents began and ended their household with.  In all those years, it never malfunctioned. I replace mine, almost annually.


             So we have almost reached the point at which we can unplug the landline being almost assured that no one calling is legitimate or calling for something that might actually benefit us.   We keep the landline for the rare occasion in which we need to report a power outage, call 911, or call long distance free. We used to use long distance a great deal, but now with e-mail, not so much.  It is interesting to see the mode of communication that was so dear to me as a teen, fall into disuse, even in my own household.

            I still recommend you have and keep a household landline if possible, for the positive reasons I have mentioned above.  I hope you are enjoying the Information Age a bit more than I.