Yesterday I received yet another phone call from Chase Bank’s collections department. The call wasn’t for me; it was for a relative who experienced fraud on their card. But the collections department continues to call me instead of calling the overseas direct contact number I gave them, and since apparently the fraud department and the collections department aren’t on speaking terms these harassing phone calls continue. I remain caught in the cross-fire of interdeparmental warfare.
I spoke to Matt, a supervisor in the collections department, and I explained at length and with some vehemence that this harassment had to stop or I’d file with the FCC. Matt explained that his department, as a matter of policy, only makes calls to the numbers pre-programmed into their autodialing system at the pre-programmed intervals, and even though I’d given them the correct contact number they’d continue to call me. He offered to further explain bank policy, but I wasn’t interested: I don’t care about their policies. I care about the effect of those policies, which is harassment.
After hanging up on Chase Bank, I realized how much the bank and other clueless companies depend on dumb phone systems. My home number is dumb; I don’t even have caller ID, because it rankles to pay for a service that ought to be free. My cell phone is smarter, with caller ID built in. My office number is on the brink of brilliance: I’m part way through the process of switching to VoIP. As a matter of course — it’s built into ViaTalk’s basic VoIP service — if I were to convert my home number to VoIP, I could automatically route all calls from Chase Bank’s collection department to a busy signal. No muss, no fuss, and no harassment.
What this means is that VoIP implies challenges not only to classical telephone companies and telemarketing scum but to established companies as well. Chase Bank’s dimwitted policies and inefficient, ineffective procedures may work when their victims have no choice; but once everyone has a smart phone system, how can a dumb company alienate its customers and still survive? If Chase Bank can’t figure out how to place or even how to receive an overseas telephone call, how can they expect to cope when telecommunications become truly borderless?