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"What is one invention you find completely useless and why?"

As an inventor of sorts with one product to market and a second that needs to go to market, I try not to question anyone else’s ideas but there are some that I think were a complete waste of time, effort and headspace! As I was researching useless inventions, in addition to prosthetic dog testicles, I came across the Hoverbrella, a mini-umbrella attachment for a drone, sobbing spectacles, glasses with sponges to collect tears, the fur roller, a device that covers your clothes with fake animal hair so you can pretend you’re a pet owner…….

Then after the 27th one this week, it hit me: robocalls!

Automated dialing has been around since the 1980s when personal computers first became available. Telemarketing was in its heyday and automated dialing allowed soliciting calls to be made more quickly, probably needed because the callers were being hung up on so quickly. As technology advanced, rather than a live caller those who answered heard a recorded voice asking that they hold for a real person to take over.

In 1991, Congress enacted the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), which restricted making telemarketing calls and using automatic dialing and prerecorded voice messages. In 2002=3 the Federal Trade Commission established the “do-not-call” directory, allowing individuals to list their phone numbers in a effort to be removed from call lists. In 2012, the TCPA law was amended to require telemarketers to get written permission to make the calls and would require giving the option to opt out of future calls.

Sounds nice, but, in my experience, a complete waste of energy.

As technology improved, allowing caller ID so that recipients of these calls could see and decline, robocallers improved their technology to spoof caller ID by disguising their identity by deliberately falsifying the information transmitted to caller ID displays. Hefty fines do not seem to deter; two Texas men admitted to making over a billion robocalls in the first few months of 2019 to sell health insurance, face a $225 million fine, yet continue to make calls because it’s profitable. There are people who are gullible enough to bite. I am aware of several who fell for the “I’m with Microsoft and there’s a problem with your computer” only to find themselves locked out and paying a hefty amount to get their computer systems back.

Both my home and cell numbers are on the do-no-call list, yet the phones continue to ring. Several years ago I had one company call 16 times in one day saying they would continue to call until I bought their product and it was only when I told them I would be recording their conversation did the calls stop.

I still receive between 15-25 robocalls each week, going straight to voice mail.

and, in case you’re wondering, there is no need to reach me about my car’s extended warranty. Please stop trying.

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