Robo-caller, meet Asterisk. And then go to a special circle of hell.

Clearly, for people who use automatic robot callers to send you recorded messages deserve to go to hell. If somebody with the right connections is reading, I’d like to propose construction of an extra-special circle of hell for people who use mis-programmed auto-dialers. The Barrington Courier-Review (Illinois) is reporting that some political telemarketing machines will call you right back if you don’t listen to the whole message.

The campaign caught making repeated phone calls has blamed the telemarketing contractor, saying that it was obviously a mis-configured computer. Well, those campaigns can retain their mis-configured computer, because my correctly configured Asterisk machine will handle the calls appropriately. I’ll make my voting decision in peace, by reviewing sources of information I trust. (Hint to campaign managers: this probably is not you.) Please, make as many calls as you want. My computer is happy to listen to you spew your message, and it will deliver it to me if it is appropriate. I have programmed my computer with an algorithm that is working quite well so far, namely, that all telemarketing calls should be discarded.

However, there’s clearly a reason why these calls get made. Somebody has to believe that they work, which means that they’re either effective or cheap. Thudfactor says that a robo-call is only five cents per call, though I’ve also heard figures between one and two cents per call. No wonder they’re so depressingly common. The Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE) says that

[t]he most effective way of getting a new voter is the in-person door knock by a peer; the least effective is an automated phone call. Canvassing costs $11 to $14 per new vote, followed closely by phone banks at $10 to $25 per new vote. Robocalls mobilize so few voters that they cost $275 per new vote. (These costs are figured per vote that would not be cast without the mobilizing effort.)

(The figures cited are a study of the youth vote, which may not necessarily be representative of the whole voting population.)

One Response to “Robo-caller, meet Asterisk. And then go to a special circle of hell.”

  1. Thud says:

    The robo-calls you note are tricker than that; they are designed to sound like they are coming from the opposing party. In this case, it’s a Republican-funded call that sounds like it’s coming from a Democrat. If you hang up, you continue to get pestered — and you continue to miss that the call is funded by Republicans. If you don’t hang up, you *do* hear the attribution but you also have to sit through the entire negative message. It’s cunningly designed, and it ought to be illegal.

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