Sunday, August 13, 2006


Or Spam Over Internet Telephony

Looks like we can expect an increase in cold-callers as, globally, a glut in telephony bandwidth is making it pretty cheap to call all over the world. Story. Or is it? When I lived in Krabi, a small town in South-west Thailand, it used to cost me next to nothing to phone my parents. Here in the UK, a national mobile call's expensive enough; I don't dare call my friends back there on it! Similarly, if you're involved in setting up websites you'll know it's bandwidth that's the expensive part, the well-maintained, regularly backed-up storage space is (ahem) cheap as chips. Seems like the whole pricing structure's far from simple, and, as with everything, Brits get ripped off.
While most people I know have experienced a marked increase in e-mail spam over the last month or so, there's little doubt spammers and scammers will latch onto any niche they can.

I've recently been plagued by a power-dialer, who's on 0870 8503492. You can see some of the misery they've created on this site. The phone rings, and more than 50% of the time there's no one on the other end. When there is, they ask for a Mr. John Segundo, and when told there's no person of that name living here, claim to be Halifax Bank and try to weasel information out of you. The phone in question is on a line I use only for my ADSL connection, the number's unlisted and it's registered with TPS. I did register with silentCall-gard, which actually stopped the calls for a while, then they came back. My tactic now is to ask them to hold for a little while then leave the phone off the hook for 48 hours to run them up a nice little bill. Effective if they're in the UK, but in reality they could be calling from a country where calls are cheap. They haven't called for a month or so, but it seems I might need new tactics.

Today I closed down my myspace account, a real feat as it must ask you more times if you really want to ditch them than an AOL salesman. Why? They don't get the nickname 'myspam' for nothing. The irony here is that our supposedly tech-savvy streetwise younger generation is a far easier mark for the marketers than cynical old ba****ds like myself. You have only to look at the new darling of the nethead generation, Lily Allen. Supposedly she achieved her success purely through a fan-based buzz on myspace. Since then the truth has come out that it was due in no small part to her marketing company sending out a couple of a million 'marketing e-mails' (think of an alternative name for that, not unlike the brand-name of some mashed up-meat).

Is it just cynicism? I lived my late teens during the end of the hippie era and my early adulthood during the days of punk. My generation (or at least some of it) seems a world apart from our now absurdly consumerist world. There really is no alternative now.

A last note, recently I was listening to a Bill Hicks rant, in which he asked if there were any people in marketing in the audience, and suggested if there were, they should do the world a favour and kill themselves. Slightly harsh I thought, but my mailboxes crammed with viagra and dodgy Rolex ads sometimes makes me think otherwise.


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