When I moved house, I took the opportunity to up my level of anonymity just a notch or two to match some mild paranoia. This was to tackle two main problems:

  • telemarketers love me. Because I have a telephone. Conversely however, I’m not so keen on them. While some of them have been put off by my getting onto the Australian Direct Marketing Association "Do not call" list, this is only effective for companies which are members, and I haven’t re-listed myself since I moved. I have asked some calling telemarketers if their esteemed (yet annoying) organisation is an ADMA member, and they say no, they got my phone number out of the phone book. Yes, some people are paid to flick through the phone book finding people to ring up and annoy. Isn’t western civilisation wonderful?
  • the other one is that a couple of times I’ve had letters published in the paper, and got anonymous nut bags (or it might have been the same person both times) writing to me, having apparently got my address out of the phone book. This makes me just a tad uncomfortable. It’s not like I have proposed re-introducing slavery or anything so radical or controversial. At least, not in my view.

So I decided a little more anonymity would be a good thing. And when I moved, I decided to get a silent line. No moreWhitepages for me thank you Mr Sensis. It’s a couple of bucks extra per month, but if all goes well, means a lot less hassles from telemarketers in the long run.

The problem is, it didn’t get done. On a whim the other day, after receiving a telemarketing call on my mobile (argh, don’t get me started), I looked up my details in theWhitepages online. And found them. Uh oh. Not so much "silent" as "bellowing". "Here be Daniel! Roll up, roll up, dial this number to bombard him with phone calls!"

I rang the phone company and they apologised profusely, flagged me as silent and gave me a $6 credit on my account. The lady admitted $6 was paltry in the circumstances, but evidently employee empowerment only goes so far. And she thanked me for being polite about it. Sounds like people can get a bit shirty in these circumstances – though for those for whom a silent line is the difference between peaceful existence and some scary dangerous person tracking them down, I could understand that.

So at least when the next phone book comes out… I won’t be in it.

By Daniel Bowen

Transport blogger / campaigner and spokesperson for the Public Transport Users Association / professional geek.
Bunurong land, Melbourne, Australia.
Opinions on this blog are all mine.