I'm Being Stalked by Automated Phone Services

Stop calling me!

Phones - they are probably one of the most helpful inventions we have in our lives. We started with rotary phones that had to be plugged into a wall and now almost everyone has cell phones that can fit into a pocket. It is pretty amazing how far we've come. We even have automated phone services to help remind us about important matters in our lives. But what happens when automated phone services go haywire and ruin your life? What happens when these annoying automated calls start to stalk you?

I am really not a fan of cell phones. I prefer a land line phone even though I am sure I am in the minority on that one. However, I recognize that everyone should have a cell phone for emergency purposes. Therefore I have a prepaid cell phone that I only use for cabs, emergencies, or the occasional quick text message. Due to a battle I could not win with T-Mobile (I won't even go into that rant today), I had to get a new phone number when I got a new cell phone. I happen to have the phone number from hell now.

The lovely lady that had the phone number before me subscribed to many automated phone services. I get text message coupons from Dress Barn, automated phone calls from Best Buy about paying an account, and, a personal favorite, text messages from the Republican party about the upcoming election. As if all of this has not been a total blast, an all new automated service began stalking me yesterday. I want to scream.

V.I.N.E.

Starting yesterday, I began getting phone calls from V.I.N.E. In case you do not know what this means, it is the Victims Information and Notification Everyday network. If you have been a victim of a crime, you can sign up to get automated messages each time the offender goes in or out of jail. It turns out, a criminal named Robert just went back to jail. V.I.N.E. has taken it upon themselves to send me an automated message 3 times every two hours for the next 48 hours about Robert. Oh yay. I only have to pay for EVERY SINGLE CALL I pick up or I have to pay EVERY SINGLE TIME I check my voicemail. Thanks V.I.N.E.!!!

Don't get me wrong, I appreciate this service. If I were a victim of a violent crime, I would be really happy to subscribe to this system so I would know when the offender goes back to jail or, more important, gets out of jail. This is a great service to provide to the public. However, the way this system works is very flawed.

Basically, when I receive the call, I have two options if I pick up the phone: press 1 to hear the message again, or press 2 to enter a password to confirm I received the message. Without the password, the system continues to repeat the message over and over and over and over.... So I am sure you can understand the issue I am having. Obviously, I do not have the password. Nor am I able to guess the password, which seemed like a good idea a few phone calls ago. Also, the system does not allow me to press any other number to get to a live operator... trust me, I have tried!

This morning, I searched online to find out exactly who was calling me and what I could do about it. I finally found a phone number and called it. After jumping through some hoops, I finally got to a live person who explained what I would have to do. I live in Maryland, so I have to talk to a case manager to get my number removed from the call list. I called and left a message for the case manager; but of course, it is Saturday, so no one is picking up. Good for him. He isn't being stalked by the automated system, but I am.

So now, my cell phone that I barely use, that I actually need to use this weekend because I am going to a wedding hours away and relying on others to get me there, is hardly usable since I've had to turn off phone's ringtone. Also, the constant stream of voicemail messages is blocking others from being able to leave messages. Great. Thanks V.I.N.E. for stressing me out even further this weekend.

Advice to Companies

Eventually I know these calls will stop. I know the message tells me these calls last 48 hours, as did the kind and sympathetic operator I spoke with this morning. However, when this guy is released, I am going to get these calls again if my number is not removed. When he gets arrested again (and I've looked this guy up, trust me he IS getting arrested again), I will get more calls. This system obviously needs to change.

Not only is this extremely annoying, it also pretty costly when these calls go to someone with a pay-as-you-go plan. Furthermore, what if I geniunely subscribed to this service, but forgot my PIN or password? I would get these calls 3 times every 2 hours for 48 hours. That is ridiculous! If I were the victim of a crime, I would feel victimized all over again. I would not want to hear about the creep that attacked me going in or out of jail over and over again all day long for two days. What kind of messed up system is that?

My advice to V.I.N.E. and any other company offering automated services is this: make it easier for people to alter their subscriptions. At least give people receiving these calls a 3rd option: the unsubscribe option! If I talk to an operator and explain the situation, that operator should have the ability to change the phone number or take me off the list. What if I subscribe to this service, but one day decide I no longer want it? I don't have that option unless I talk to a case manager if I can't remember my PIN? What kind of system is that?

At any rate, I've said what I needed to say about this whole situation. If someone from V.I.N.E. reads this, thank you for your service, but please unsubscribe me. Also, if you live in Maryland and you were the victim of a violent crime and the convict's name begins with Robert, you might want to check to see if he just went back to jail. I might be getting your calls. Oh, and please update your Best Buy information, too. Your payment was late last month. Thanks!

Copyright ©2012 Jeannieinabottle

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Comments 19 comments

Alecia Murphy profile image

Alecia Murphy 4 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina

I am so sorry Jeannie you inherited another woman's phone number and got all of her automated calls. My dad got another man's number on his cell phone and kept getting the man's messages for doctor's appointments and prescriptions. It's been nearly 2 years and he still gets them.

One thing you can say about landline phones is that you could keep your number unless you decidedly changed it. But hopefully that'll happen with cell phones soon as well.


Janine Huldie profile image

Janine Huldie 4 years ago from New York, New York

Jeannie, this sounds awful and so sorry you are going through this with your cell phone. I do hope they can get to the bottom of this and stop it once and for all. Your article though was awesome and you thank the VIE company for that much. No seriously I do hope this stops ASAP for you. Have voted and shared all over!!


Daughter Of Maat profile image

Daughter Of Maat 4 years ago from Rural Central Florida

WOW, I had no idea this service existed!

I've had my cell phone number for the past 8 years, and I still get calls for the person who had it before me! You'd think after 8 years my phone number would only have my name attached to it, but I guess not! lol

Great Hub!! Voted up and shared!


Millionaire Tips profile image

Millionaire Tips 4 years ago from USA

Oh how awful! I would think that they wouldn't let just anyone unsubscribe in case it was the alleged perpetrator who picked up the phone. I too am harassed by phone calls, but it is on my landline, and it is by politicians, and other people simply asking for my opinion. And that lovely lady who is worried about my credit card rate, even though she doesn't know who issued the credit card, or what rate I am paying.


billybuc profile image

billybuc 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

I truly am sorry you have had to put up with this situation. I went through this once with a credit card company for a number that wasn't mine. This went on for two months with calls every other day and I did talk to a human, but the message seems to have been lost in translation.


Gypsy Willow profile image

Gypsy Willow 4 years ago from Lake Tahoe Nevada USA , Wales UK and Taupo New Zealand

I am seriously thinking of giving up my landline for the same reason as millionaire tips. The political calls, and I have no vote , are rediculous. A billionaire like Romney asking me to send $3 . Words fail me! If I were to send him anything it would be a few tips on reality!

So far I've been lucky with my cell phone but it doesn't work at my house in the mountains. Can't win can you?


KathyH profile image

KathyH 4 years ago from Las Vegas, Nevada

We had this problem with a LANDLINE phone! It was crazy, it seems at least two others had the number before we got it, and they both OWED money to people, so sometimes we'd get 12 or more calls a day looking for these people! It was frustrating. We'd ignore the calls and they'd leave voice mails.

Luckily, we have cell phones now that don't seem to have numbers assigned to people who owed money to someone and walked away!


Jeannieinabottle profile image

Jeannieinabottle 4 years ago from Baltimore, MD Author

Alecia Murphy - I sure hope I don't keep getting phone calls for this lady. For this situation, I am not even sure it has anything to do with her. The case manager might have just put in the wrong number. At least my 48 hours of torture are pretty much over now... I hope! Thanks for the comment!

Janine Huldie - Thanks so much for sharing my hub and voting it up! I guess all these phone calls at least led to something good. :-)

Daughter of Maat - That is so crazy! 8 years is a long time. At least if you are getting humans, you can reason with them. If you are still getting automated calls after 8 years, I am so sorry! Companies need to work on a new system. Thanks for sharing and for the votes!

Millionaire Tips - You are right... I think that is exactly why it is so difficult to unsubscribe from this service. I still think there should be some number I can press to "unsubscribe," even if it doesn't happen right away. Perhaps I could press that button and then a REAL human could call me and make sure that is what I wanted. Sigh. Sorry about your politician calls. How annoying! I get calls on the landline, but don't bother answering them. I don't mind since I have a flat rate no matter how many times I check my voicemail at home. Thanks for the comment.

billybuc - Oh yeah, credit card companies never believe you. I still get calls from credit card companies and collectors at work for the woman that had the job before me and had my phone line. After 4 years, they still don't believe I am not her. Wouldn't it make sense that she no longer works there and that is why she can't pay? Sigh. Thanks for the comment!

Gypsy Willow - I would be so angry if I were getting calls like that for Romney. It appears I just get texts about him on my cell. I would be so angry if they left voicemail messages. Thanks for the comment!

KathyH - You are so lucky no one is bothering you on your cell phone. Thank goodness people that paid bills on time had those cell phone numbers in the past. ;-) Thanks for the comment!


lambservant profile image

lambservant 4 years ago from Pacific Northwest

That is just awful. I hope you can get it worked out. If not, drop your phone in the toilet, works like charm. I know, i've done it.


kimberlie33 profile image

kimberlie33 4 years ago from Brooklyn, NY

I like the above comment...OR drop your phone in a gas station parking lot without realizing it and then run it over. Found out this weekend that works too!

Very funny for us, but very annoying for you. Hope you get it worked out soon!


Jeannieinabottle profile image

Jeannieinabottle 4 years ago from Baltimore, MD Author

Thank you both! That will be my next strategy... toilet dunking or gas station parking lot dropping. :-)


Angie Jardine profile image

Angie Jardine 4 years ago from Cornwall, land of the eternally youthful mind ...

I know it has been annoying for you, Jeannie … but this hub is so well written I found it amusing … sorry :/

Think of it this way … it has given you a great subject for a hub. Oh, and watch out for Robert …


Jeannieinabottle profile image

Jeannieinabottle 4 years ago from Baltimore, MD Author

At least the phone calls have stopped for now. As far as I know, Robert is still in jail. Whew! I do hope his case manager removed my phone number. I saw the case manager's phone number in my caller ID but he did not leave a message. Hopefully that means he handled my situation. :-) Thanks for the comment!


ignugent17 profile image

ignugent17 4 years ago

Sorry to hear that. Phones are annoying sometimes.

Thanks for sharing this information. It is very useful.

I do hope you will have a nice day. :-)


SkeetyD profile image

SkeetyD 4 years ago from Barbados

Unbelievable! It must be very frustrating dealing with those frequent calls that you have to pay for. Though, I must say that from your description of the VINE system, it seems pretty nifty. I hope you can get your number unsubscribed soon. By the way, why are they recycling phone numbers anyway? Why couldn't you get an entirely new number?


Jeannieinabottle profile image

Jeannieinabottle 4 years ago from Baltimore, MD Author

ignugent17 - Thanks so much! So far, I haven't heard anything since that weekend. Hopefully it is all over. :-)

SkeetyD - Yes, it was quite annoying. The VINE system does seem great in theory though. I am sure it really helps victims. I know what you mean about the phone number, but yeah, it definitely belonged to someone else recently. As a matter of fact, she even called me one day by accident from her home phone. She thought she still had that number and was looking for her lost cell phone. Ummm... no. I don't think we have too many numbers left to go around in this area. Or at least that is my best guess. Thanks for you comment!


rcrumple profile image

rcrumple 4 years ago from Kentucky

Love the sarcasm! We are related! There are far too many services that make it virtually impossible to keep from calling you. I tend to get one from a bill collection department of a lending institution that I've never dealt with. I've only had my number for 15 years, so I can see how they've made the mistake. Very funny hub about a lousy situation!


macteacher profile image

macteacher 4 years ago from New York

I feel your pain with T-Mobile, they are idiots. I've never heard of this VINE thing, it sounds like a nightmare. I hope you get it straightened out quickly. T-Mobile just dropped the ball on my home phone. I have a home phone number with them but the box they gave me broke and they don't have replacements.

I gave up and went to Sprint for home service. They have this neat thing called a portable land line. It's a little box that you can hook up an old fashioned phone too. The little box has a backup battery that lasts for one full year if the power goes out. The whole thing costs $27 a month for unlimited calling. I believe you can Google the national "do not call" list. It keeps you safe from unwanted calls for 5 years. Good luck with VINE!


Jeannieinabottle profile image

Jeannieinabottle 4 years ago from Baltimore, MD Author

rcrumple - Wow, it is amazing how much companies can stalk a person. I don't think they ever believe the person that picks up the phone. That is if you are lucky enough to talk to a live person. Thanks for your comment!

macteacher - This is the first time I am hearing about this Sprint option. I am definitely looking into that. I have a Verizon landline that costs way more than $27 a month. Thanks for the info!

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