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I'm Being Stalked by Automated Phone Services

Updated on February 23, 2013
Jeannieinabottle profile image

Jeannie has been writing online for over 10 years. She covers a wide variety of topics—hobbies, opinions, dating advice, and more!

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.


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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