Friday, October 19, 2018

2009 The Emperor's New Phone Book

The telephone directory used to be one of the most important reference tools.  Haul it out, look up the name and address of a resident or business and there it was.

Phone books still exist. But they are mostly useless.  But wait! There’s always the internet, right?  Wrong.  Or more accurately, half wrong.  

The books used to come free from the phone company.  Internet searches on Whitepages and other directors also had at least some free phone numbers.  But now, you have to pay.

Your friend Herman Glotz just moved to a new town. You have his phone number.  But you want to send him a gift, so you need his address.

He’s too new to Bungleborough to have a listing. But there’s always the internet. RIght?  Hmmm.

Of course, he’s right there on You get his name, his town, and blacked out versions of any other information.  So you try the reverse directory.  You put in his number and … and… there it is again, the blacked out address.  But now you have a new piece of information.  You learn it’s a “standard land line operated by Bungleborough Communications DBA Verizon.”  Always good to know how our friends connect with everyone else.  Not helpful about getting the address.

But wait!  Premium subscribers can get a full profile of Mr. Glotz.  It includes his name, address, telephone number, criminal record, traffic infractions credit score, the latitude and longitude of his home, the weather in his town, medications for which he has prescriptions, the names and addresses of eight “possible relatives,” the magazines he subscribes to, his social media accounts, and pictures of a canoe he sold 20 years ago.

Going to bite at that?  It’s going to cost you. But they won’t tell you how much until they’ve done the “research.”  You hit “go,” and the information starts to load.  It loads.  And loads. And loads.

Finally, “your report is ready.”  All you have to do to obtain it is enter your credit card information and subscribe to “our seven day unlimited use service” for $25, which will, after six days and 23 hours renew at the standard rate of $75.00 per month billed to your credit card.  You may cancel at any time.  Just click on the “cancel” button listed under “My Account.”

Right.  Experienced suckers report that that doesn’t exactly cancel your account. It starts a barrage of emails inviting you to a “special rate for existing subscribers.”  The new rate is a mere $55 dollars a month and you can cancel at any time, simply by…

If you still cancel, you might as well expect to receive a bill for $75.00 for the next four weeks.

But at least you have Glotz’s address.

A less costly way to get the address is by calling the number you have for him and ask for it. But that would spoil the housewarming surprise.

Plus you’d never know that Glotz was tagged for going 50 mph on the Northern State Parkway when the speed limit was 45.  That happened in 1957.

Oh, for a phone book that had numbers and addresses.  The newer ones have no clothes.

I’m Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
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© WJR 2018

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