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Friday, September 12, 2014

Life's Annoyances

A lot of things have been annoying me lately.

One thing that really annoys me is having to make repeated phone calls or trips to accomplish something that should be quite simple. For example, when a company advertises a special deal on some service (tree trimming, for example, or carpet cleaning), why doesn't someone from that company respond to my request to schedule the service? Why does it take several days of phone calls to schedule an appointment for my daughter to see a medical specialist? Why do I have to explain things to a different person every time I call? Why do people promise to call me back, then fail to do so? Call it common courtesy, common sense, business sense or whatever you wish, it certainly is in short supply these days.

Another thing that annoys me is the constant requirement to register with a company, to provide detailed personal information, just to get some basic information. As an example, if I want more information about a house listed for sale, why do I have to set up an account or register just to learn details about the house? Is the realtor really willing to lose a potential sale because I refuse to register? Why should I have to provide my full name, address, phone number and e-mail address just to be able to track a package on the UPS Web site? Really? I have the tracking number, so that should be sufficient. Why do I have to set up an account in order to sign a petition? And why should I have to 'opt out' of having my personal information shared/sold/loaned to other companies? I should have to 'opt in' if I don't mind receiving an onslaught of junk mail and spam e-mails. My personal information is just that -- mine and personal.

I am very careful about revealing personal information, but caution and limited dissemination don't seem to do much good. I don't want to find my personal information available online to anybody who wants it. That just isn't right, and it is an invasion of my privacy. I have given nobody the right to publicly broadcast or disseminate my personal information. Since I pay the phone company every month to keep my number out of the phone book unpublished and unlisted), why do organizations feel it is their right to take and disseminate my personal information for their financial gain? Why am I unable to protect my personal information and keep it private? When I order something online, I always uncheck the box that says I agree to receive 'offers from carefully selected companies that may be of interest' to me. Yet I still receive e-mails that state that I am receiving this spam because I agreed to receive offers from that company. No, I did not agree to receive anything aside from updates about my order. And I certainly did not agree to have my personal information sold to other companies. Aside from the annoyance factor, every time my information is disseminated without my knowledge or consent, it increases the opportunities for identity thieves to steal my identify.

The government's 'do not call' list is a joke. Maybe bona fide companies respect it, but I got so many calls from telemarketers that I finally shut my home phone off. If it rings, I don't hear it. Anybody who needs to reach me has my cell phone number. And lately, I've been getting telemarketing and spam calls on my cell phone. I block the numbers, but that doesn't keep new calls from coming in from different numbers.

I'm sure I'm fighting an uphill battle to protect my privacy and my personal information from telemarketers and other scam artists. Ultimately the blame lies with companies, businesses and non-profit organizations that feel it is their right to take my personal information and give it, loan it or rent it to other businesses. I understand that the government tracks our transactions, spies on our e-mails, etc., but when did we Americans cede to non-government organizations our right to privacy?