Honolulu Lite


Wednesday, June 19, 2002

Reach out and
kvetch someone

I've tried reasoning with them. I've tried threatening them. I've tried whining at them. I've tried ignoring them. And yet they do not cease.

Verizon, the telephone company, apparently has formed a task force whose sole goal is to get me to subscribe to a DSL high-speed computer line. To this end, members of this strike team seem to call weekly. Why Verizon has decided that, as a corporation, it cannot move on, address other telecommunication-related problems until I personally have a DSL line, I don't know. But it must be important. The organization they have sicced on me is global, like NORAD or INTERPOL.

The same agent never calls twice. The calls never come from the same location. The last one came from Canada. At least, that's where the lady told me she was calling from. Verizon has offices in Hawaii. Why would a Verizon operative in Canada call me to urge me to buy a DSL line unless this is truly a worldwide conspiracy?

And these callers are pros. They know exactly when to call. They call when I'm on the john. Or out on the driveway. Or writing a column. Or thinking about writing a column while on the john or standing in the driveway. (You'd be surprised when the best column ideas strike.)

Why they think it's best to try to sell you a DSL line while you are involved with other important matters, I don't know. They must have research that shows that if you can get a guy to stumble from the seat of ease, struggling to pull up his pants and get to the phone before the answering machine comes on, that this guy is ripe for an unsolicited sales pitch. It doesn't quite work for me. It makes me angry. I curse and yell at anyone who tries to sell me something right in the middle of my daily constitutional.

If the Verizon DSL swat team catches me on a good day, I explain to the caller that I don't want or need a DSL line. In fact, I already have one, paid for by the Honolulu Star-Bulletin. If they would check their records, they'd see there is a DSL line coming into this very house. But no, that's not good enough. Verizon and its hired phone lackeys won't rest until I have TWO DSL lines.

I've begged them not to call me. You just called last week, I say. But each caller says they are not associated with the others. When pressed, they claim that they are calling from off-island boiler rooms. They are all private contractors, hired to flush out DSL customers for Verizon. Yeah, right. Like Verizon would simply annoy their customers this way.

My wife has suggested that I simply call the local Verizon office and ask that the DSL line cold calls cease and desist. She's naive that way. She doesn't realize that when you are the target of a global selling conspiracy you don't reach out and touch the enemy. That's exactly what they're waiting for.

Charles Memminger, winner of National Society of Newspaper Columnists awards, appears Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays. E-mail

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