In the past decade many people have opted to cut the cord and basically turn off their landline phones. And in the last couple years this trend has moved to small businesses. Over the past year I’ve written about the benefits of using a mobile phone as the primary means of communication if you’re a home-based worker, or if you travel a lot.
There is of course the ability to always be reachable if the primary number on your business card is for the phone that fits in your pocket. Regardless of where you go, callers will feel like they’re reaching you in the office. This of course can be good if you need to go to a meeting, are traveling, or just want to take in some fresh air on a nice day. The downside is obvious. It doesn’t matter if you’re in a meeting, traveling or trying to get some fresh air, the phone might ring and you might feel compelled to answer it.
But this week, our friends at USA Today reminded us about two significant problems that should be repeated. The first is that scams are still on the rise, despite the do-not-call-list. These include those offers to lower your credit card interest rate, to extend your factory warranty on your car and of course if you have anything resembling an ethnic last name, offers to get you cheap calling to international destinations (the latter brothers me the most, but that’s the woes of having an ethnic last name).
For the record, after some investigating I found that the interest rate deal is sort of real, but the interest rate will only be lowered for a short period of time (usually under six months) and you’ll pay a fee of $300 or more to take part. So probably not worth the hassle. The factory warranty scam is another one that offers more than is delivered, and many parts aren’t covered. And the international calling plans are semi-legitimate, but the rates are still higher than Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP) calls, and minutes expire quickly.
What is really bad is that these calls are now being made to mobile phones, and many times you’re burning minutes to answer the calls. You can try to get off the lists, but that’s easier said than done. The irony is that Federal regulators are looking at exclusive deals offered by carriers, but avoiding issues that actually could be affecting consumers every day.
The other issue is that 911 isn’t ideal when called from a mobile handset. It does work, and please in an emergency push those numbers, especially if it is an issue of life and death. But when using a mobile handset to call 911, you need to be much more specific about the information you provide. This can be a problem in an emergency, but it could be the difference between life and death.
The reason, as USA Today explains, is that the 911 network was built for landlines, where operators could trace the calls. So if you weren’t clear with the address, the operator would have the ability to confirm based on your phone number. Wireless calls can be traced, but it takes longer, and often times because calls are routed through cellular towers you could end up getting routed to a 911 call center much further from your location.