30 October 2008

Corporate Intelligence, Vol. 5

Though I was born and grew up out here in the Chicago suburbs, I lived in Northern Maine for over 3 years, until about a year and a half ago. Since that move, oblivious companies of all shapes and sizes who must hate the sight and smell of their own money took it upon themselves, with the assistance of the USPS and phone companies, to update their mailing and calling lists with my new information.

Now, this common practice makes sense for most nationally focused corporations, even if their message isn't always skewed appropriately for the drastically different region, time zone, accent, economic sphere, population density, worldview, pronunciation of various important words,* voting habits, or level of quaintness of my "new home".

What I'm really thrown by is the local businesses and organizations who seem to consider Reality Checks the province of "city slickers who don't have the sense to root for the Mighty Red Sox even when they live physically closer to Boston than we do."

Here are just two examples:

• Once we stopped getting the usual bits of local junk mail forwarded by the Post Office halfway across the country just to be immediately discarded, we started instead getting local junk mail formally addressed to our new house, trying to lure us back 1400 miles just to catch a mildly unbeatable deal on snow tires (This Weekend Only!) or The County's best interest rate on a snowmobile loan GUARANTEED!

• Lately, we've been getting automated calls from the Maine Democratic and Republican Parties, urging us to support their presidential candidate or vote against the opposing candidate, respectively. While you may say that a national campaign warrants a national calling list, you must agree that a long-distance call from Maine begging an Illinois voter to support his own Senator, elected with 70% of the vote just 4 years ago, is a senseless waste of money.

And lest you think that Democrats in Maine just don't have the time, money, or manpower to weed out useless numbers from their automatically updated phone lists, you should know that the strikingly low population of Maine allows it to have a single area code covering the entire state, and I'm pretty sure that even Thomas Edison's original autodialer** could be programmed in 10 seconds to ignore any numbers not beginning with 207.

But then where would AT&T and Verizon get the cash to buy both the ink for their Important Messages AND the souls of folks who'll speak out against Net Neutrality?

* Moving back, almost exclusively, from Incorrect to Correct, including, but certainly not limited to, the words permit and aunt ("aaaaaaaant"... I say if you don't live in London or Cape Cod, just give the whole "ahnt" thing a rest, already).

** Used to plant seeds in the minds of the nation's 137 early telephone adopters that Nicola Tesla fathered a black baby out of wedlock with his secret Muslim terrorist mistress, and that Alternating Current was just typical Liberal flip-flopping.


unmitigated me said...

I teach the history of electricity to my 6th graders, so I may be one of the few people who laughs out loud at the Edison/Tesla reference...though Tesla was just weird in his own right, it was more Westinghouse who bore the brunt of Edison's campaign. She said, rather pedantically.

Ali said...

'ahnt' is a pretty popular pronunciation here in the South. I cringe everytime I hear it.

Irrational Dad said...

I don't know how or why, but a national church organization has my house address listed as being "Candlelight Ministries". I keep getting mail with suggestions for my next sermon and how to address topics like teen pregnancy and infidelity. I've gone as far as calling them and insisting that I am not a minister and my house is not a church... To no avail.

Allison said...

How far were you from York?

LiteralDan said...

Middle Aged Woman: You know very well that I am the only pedant allowed around here. Great, now I can never use that word again without thinking of Jenny The Bloggess' recent post about it.

And by the way, everyone knows Edison was afraid of Tesla's voodoo magic, so he attacked Westinghouse in public, and Tesla only with whisper campaigns behind his back. But then, was anything really ever behind the man's back, given his all-seeing, all-knowing powers?

ali: Stay strong, sister! Just start pretending like you don't know what word they mean, until they think you're an idiot, so you can then make THEM feel like the idiots. Victory will be ours!

Joe: Dude, you're going about this all wrong! You need to get them to send you something in writing, which you can use to skip out on property taxes, reduce all your federal taxes, and legally demand ten percent of all your neighbors' income.

Allison: I have a feeling I'm disappointing you, but we were over 300 miles north. Yes, Maine is the King Kong of New England states, which I guess would make New York something like Mothra. The question is, what does that make the Empire State building, and why was Kong climbing it?? Eeewww.

Kori said...

I just wanted to tell Joe that maybe he could call them up and ask them if they would be willing to sent him some info on the virgin sacrifice ritual; I bet they would stop making that mistake.

CaraBee said...

I am constantly amazed and infuriated by the amount of junk mail we get. For both us and the people who lived in this house before us...five years ago. We get their mail on a daily basis. At first, I sent it back or forwarded it, but now it just goes straight into recycling. It's been five years for crying out loud.

Jenny Grace said...

For some reason my home phone number is associated with the Aguilars, and we get sales phone calls for them...DAILY. To the extent that my answering machine specifies that we aren't the Aguilars. And people still leave messages.

Anonymous said...

We used to get calls at 200am for a while, same person asking for John, every night, whether we picked up or not. Then it finally stopped!

LiteralDan said...

Kori: I think the combination of both of our solutions would serve Joe well, yours to end his suffering, and mine to reimburse him for his time served.

CaraBee: Five years is astounding. By this point I would expect only the smallest, cheapest companies haven't updated their mailing lists.

I believe you can put a stop on mail to an invalid name to your house, but maybe you can only give them a list of acceptable names (black list vs. white list). Either way, there may be hope yet for you to get some peace.

Miss Grace: Actually, I've been meaning to tell you-- I won't be able to make it to the world-famous Aguilar Family Halloween Party this year. Sorry.

anita doberman: You have my sympathies for the 2am calls. I'm pretty sure I would have unplugged the phone when I went to bed, genuine emergencies be damned.

Even if it means John died, I'm glad the madness eventually ended. I need the reassurance of your example, because we've got a budding problem with that ourselves, and I'm crossing my fingers it doesn't get that bad.

Anonymous said...

Our phone number used to belong to some credit lending service. We've had it for almost 4 years and I still get calls almost daily wondering why I can't help people with their debt.

LiteralDan said...

Well, in all fairness, why can't you?