Watch out for the phone vultures - Greg Gelpi

Circling the skies, the vulture observed its prey until the opportune time to swoop down.

Claws exposed and out for blood, animal instincts consume the vulture.

The unsuspecting prey falls victim with little resistance and no ability to fend off such an attack.

That is how I felt earlier this week.

My columns and personal anecdotes tend towards exaggeration, but in this case exaggeration isn't needed.

Still settling into my new apartment, I called a long distance company to confirm that service had been set up.

Placing the phone back in its cradle and before I could even turn away from the phone, the phone rang again.

Literally no more than three seconds after hanging up, a rival long distance made a "courtesy" call to seize the opportunity to reel me in.

If only the CIA had such intelligence.

Has anyone hired long distance companies to track down Osama or Saddam?

Such precision and efficiency would be admired if not for the not-so-noble intent of the dreaded telemarketer.

I'm not the smartest guy around, but fortunately I've learned from my mistakes and am now trained to do battle with the professional telephone vulture.

She tossed out her sales pitch and dived fearlessly for the first strike.

In the past, I would have ducked the first attempt to capture me, only to get blindsided by a second.

In college, I fell for their charm. After adamantly denying I want to change my service and declaring that the phone bill isn't even in my name, I committed the fatal mistake.

When asked sarcastically, "Don't you want to save money?" I mistakenly answered "Yes."

Immediately, though, when so answering, the vultures dropped their attack to my surprise.

When the next phone bill came in, I learned why. That simple three-letter word was all the telemarketers wanted. A yes to any question gave long distance companies access to run havoc with my telephone service.

That was then. I've since learned to deny, deny, deny. Whatever the question, answer negatively and end the phone call promptly.

I'm now able to shield attacks from telemarketers looking to "slam" my telephone line, yet my latest battle makes me paranoid.

The network of businesses conspiring to steal my business seems ever-expanding and ever-evolving.

Is my phone line tapped? What else do these companies know about me? How is it that a long distance company that I have never done business with knows the moment I change carriers?

Greg Gelpi covers education issues for the News Daily and can be reached at (770) 478-5753 Ext. 247 or at ggelpi@News-Daily.com.