Use the enemy’s weapons against them

No, this is not some uninformed anti-globalization rant. (side note: Firefox’s dictionary doesn’t have “globalization” – talk about blissful ignorance!) This is an anti-telephone rant. Specifically, telephone calls from WaPo.

One of the few persistent conflicts my darling girlfriend and I have had through our relationship has been over one of my favorite rituals: Sunday morning with the newspaper. It’s just not a relaxing weekend till I’ve spent an hour or three with some a lot of coffee and the paper.

The problem is that my dear dislikes sales calls in general and repeated “upgrade” calls in particular. And there’s no more sure-fire way to get WaPo to call you and ask for money than to give them a taste of it by opting for the Sunday-only option. They’re pretty clear that you don’t get to subscribe without harassing calls – phone number is a mandatory bit of information to subscribe. So since I’m the household luddite who prefers his news to leave black stains on my fingertips where my darling girlfriend is an online reader, it didn’t seem fair to ask her to suffer for my obsession. So if I didn’t want to scare up 6 quarters and walk a quarter mile to the machine I lived without my newspaper.

Solution? AIM digits, AOL’s new venture into online telephony for those who don’t already have too damned much phone in their life. If you’re one of the poor souls who uses the AOL client then this might make your computer ring, but as a longtime Trillian user all it does for me is generate voicemail that I ignore. WaPo gets to call and leave messages begging for service upgrades, I get my Sunday paper, and my darling girlfriend gets peace and quiet… or at least as much as one can have with me in their life…

9 Comments so far

  1. chris_s (unregistered) on October 22nd, 2007 @ 2:02 pm

    An even better option is free voicemail through PrivatePhone ( Avoids all the annoying AIM rigamarole.

  2. Tiff (unregistered) on October 22nd, 2007 @ 2:05 pm

    GrandCentral is a good option for this too- you can set it to let other calls through and just dump WaPo calls to voicemail. ;)

    Oh yeah, and I have invites for it, if anyone wants one. :)

  3. Don (unregistered) on October 22nd, 2007 @ 2:34 pm

    I got set up on Grand Central and came to the conclusion it was too much trouble for me. If I used the phone more, or for my professional life, perhaps. The AIM thing I like because it uses a login I already had and has almost no options. Someone calls, it goes to voicemail, I ignore the message. Done! :)

  4. Anthony (unregistered) on October 22nd, 2007 @ 2:48 pm

    Or, you could sign up for the Sunday NYT. They’ve never called me for an upgrade, and I’ve had that option for a few years.

  5. RumorsDaily (unregistered) on October 22nd, 2007 @ 3:25 pm

    Or just give them a fake phone number.

  6. Wayan (unregistered) on October 22nd, 2007 @ 4:24 pm


    Here’s a number for you to use – my favorite for more than just WaPo: 202-456-6213

  7. Don (unregistered) on October 22nd, 2007 @ 4:45 pm

    The problem with using a fake is (a) they might not start/continue a subscription if they can’t make the call, and while I normally like to vote with my dollar they DO have a monopoly on something I want. (2) While I have not confirmed this with the Post, in Miami the Herald used your phone number as your identifying method if you had a missed delivery or wanted to put a hold on while you were on vacation, etc.

    So a phone number that is uniquely mine while not inflicting their calls on me is the best compromise of the two.

  8. Kristen (unregistered) on October 24th, 2007 @ 3:24 pm will give you a phone #, and a voicemail box. A favorite of scambaiters everywhere!

  9. Don (unregistered) on October 25th, 2007 @ 9:08 am

    I’ve got a K7 number but they only hand out Seattle area codes. I figured a local code would be better.

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