Almost nobody we know calls us on our landline phone nowadays. It’s the cellphones, sweetheart. And with the free unlimited calls available to Softbank’s White Plan subscribers, it’s much economical to call cellphones than landlines nowadays. Unless of course you’re calling to another NTT line.
However, if the phone rings, 90% of the time it would be one of those persistent callers from our dear motherland who are forever hawking their products, or trying to sweet-talk us into subscribing to Filipino channels on cable TV.
Sometimes they would speak in Japanese, asking if there were any Firipin-jins at home. When I’m in a playful mood, I’d go along and speak to them as if I were Japanese, not Filipino. It amused me to no end to hear the caller struggle in Japanese, not knowing that they were actually talking to a kababayan.
*Spam = unsolicited email. In the same spirit, I now refer to telemarketers as spam callers.
Sometimes they would ask for my name. I’d give them various names, even the name of my daughter. Thus for a while I became known as “Ma’am Aya.” The poor girl would ask for “Ma’am Aya” in her subsequent calls, much to our amusement. Quite recently, though, one of them actually asked specifically for me, giving my full name. How the heck did they get my name? I have a feeling that the cargo door-to-door service I used to send a balikbayan box last year is a prime suspect for leaking customer information. I was really piqued about this. Our conversation went something like this:
“How did you get my name and phone number?” I asked the caller.
“Ma’am kasi ganito po yun, binibigyan po kami ng mga list ng pangalan at telepono, ginagamit po namin tong list na available sa amin.” (Ma’am it’s like this. We are given a list of names and telephone numbers, and we use this list that is supplied to us. – Duh? You call that an answer? I sure am enlightened.)
“But I don’t remember giving you guys my information. Aren’t you aware that you are stepping on privacy issues here?“
“Ma’am gusto ko lang po kayong tanungin kung gusto nyo pong magsubscribe sa Filipino channel, at saka po ng mga beauty products.“
“I’m not interested.“
“Ah, hindi po kayo interested? Kung ganon po puede po humingi na lang referral sa mga friends nyo? Hingin ko lang po ang telephone number nila.”
“Why should I? As I said, there are privacy issues involved here. I will not give you any information.”
“Sige po, thank you na lang po.” If only I could see her face.
Sometimes I’d pick up a fight with them. As soon as they start talking, I’d say a hurried “sorry” and promptly put the phone down. One of them called back, and as soon as I said hello, hung up the phone without saying anything. Some people really just don’t know how to use their time productively.
Walang personalan, trabaho lang po. I understand that these people have to make a living. But after dodging dozens and dozens of offers and practically wasting my time answering those spam calls for far too many times, I am really running out of patience. But of course! I mean, how many times do I have to tell callers that no, I’m not interested in subscribing to ABS-CBN, and hell no, I’m not interested in beauty products by Vicky Belo?!! These people would even call at 7 or 8 at night, right smack in the middle of dinner. After a while we don’t even bother to answer the phone anymore. If it’s a valid and urgent call from someone we know, they would almost always leave a message or call back later.
But sometimes, we pick up the phone without thinking. It happens. The phone rings, you pick it up almost instinctively. It’s like an alarm clock beeping and you just have to shut it off.
Just this afternoon, some dude called, claiming to be from ABS-CBN, and I was unfortunate enough to be at the receiving end of that call. First he asked if I’d be interested in subscribing to their video-in-demand service.
“No, I’m not really interested,” was my reply.
“Ma’am, so you’re not really interested? Bakit naman po?“
“Not interested, why do you need to know why?“
“Ok, alam ko na po yung rason. Kasi siguro yung asawa nyo ayaw.” (Aba, he probably thought I was married to a Japanese! Hmm…let’s see: I’m a Filipina, I’m in Japan, so therefore, I must be married to a Japanese. What a perfect logic!)
I laughed. Cynically.
“Ma’am, baka naman po gusto nyo ng beauty products by Vicky Belo?” (I knew it!!!)
If I were to spend money at all, I’d rather spend it having my telephone number changed. Pronto. Surely that would be worth the peace of mind? But then again, if I were to ever use those cargo services, my information will again be circulated without my consent, and the same nightmare will begin all over again.