A Real Public Service

If you own a phone, you’re probably tired of telephone solicitation calls.  You signed up for the “do not call” list, you hit “3” if you don’t want to receive any further calls, but receive further calls you most certainly do.  The Curmudgeon only recently learned that he can block incoming calls from specific numbers on his iPhone and is now gleefully playing with his newest toy. It’s not a full-blown solution, though, because he only received constant calls from a few phone numbers and instead faces a continual barrage of calls from new and different numbers.

He fights back in his own small ways.  Sometimes he just hangs up.  If it’s technically a call permitted by law, such as a charitable solicitation or a political message that involves an actual person rather than a recording, he’ll say “I talked to someone from your organization last week,” after which they usually apologize and that’s that.

On occasion, if a phone number appears on his caller ID he goes right to the federal government web site for reporting such illegal calls and reports it – doing so, he must add, with no real hope that anyone on the government’s end is ever going to do anything about it.

Sometimes he informs the caller that he or she is breaking the law.  As part of these calls he may ask “Does your mother know you break the law for a living?” or may break out into a Joe Friday “You have the right to remain silent.  Anything you say can and will be used against you…” admonition.

He asks them where they’re calling from.  He asks them about the weather there.  And occasionally he resorts to the oldie but goodie “What are you wearing?”

And for kicks and giggles nothing beats the occasional “F- you.”

Occasionally, though, he likes to play with these folks.  Once upon a time, you could say “No, thank you, I’m not interested” and they would just thank you for your time and say good-bye.  Now, though, you can tell that they’re sitting in their little cubicles with call scripts in front of them with ready answers for any objection you might raise.  It’s now virtually impossible to get rid of a solicitation caller politely.  So what’s a boy to do?  Feign interest.  If they’re offering you a better credit card rate or want to talk about installing solar panels in your yard, you just ask a few questions and then string them along a little.  Then, when the time is right, The Curmudgeon just says “Okay, so how did you like it?”  “Like what?” they reply.  “You called me and wasted my time and now I just wasted yours.  So how do you like it that I just wasted your time?”  The responses are fascinating:  some just hang up, some apologize, some are angry, and some start cursing.  It is, The Curmudgeon’s almost certain, the first time he’s heard “f—you” uttered in a number of different accents.

But there’s a young fellow who has The Curmudgeon beat six days a week and twice on Sunday:  he sues the bastards.

The Philadelphia Inquirer recently introduced its readers to Andrew Perrong, a fellow who lives just outside Philadelphia who gathers all of the relevant information and takes his solicitation callers to court.

God bless him.

The Inquirer reports that Perrong has filed dozens of lawsuits and won quick settlements from everyone from chimney sweeps and collection agencies to large, evil corporations like Citibank and Verizon.

All without the benefit of a lawyer.  Perrong, you see, is 21 years old and majoring in philosophy and psychology in college and plans to be…a priest.

So we’re not exactly talking about some slick con man.

The lawyers for those he sues, however, aren’t so sure about that, the Inquirer reports.

Says one whiner, Esq., as reported by the Inquirer:

“His litigation history makes plain that he seeks [calls] out and gladly receives them” for his next lawsuit, Ballard Spahr’s Daniel JT McKenna, who represents a Texas utility that Perrong recently sued, argued in October. “The purpose of such conduct is to make Perrong money.”

Because companies that make robocalls, companies that hire companies to make robocalls, and lawyers who defend robocallers and those who hire them certainly aren’t out to make money, right?

A number of people interviewed for the article suggest that Perrong sets up companies to call him and then sues them when they do.  Well, sure he does:

By having a telephone.

The Curmudgeon, for one, says more power to him.  He is fighting the good fight, and it’s hard to imagine anyone who doesn’t have a financial stake in making robocalls, who doesn’t benefit from robocalls, or who doesn’t defend robocallers for a living wishing young Mr. Perrong anything but the best.

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