I get a ton of spam. No, not the processed lunch meat—unsolicited junk phone calls, or robocalls. These junk phone calls scare people into believing they’re in trouble with the IRS or sell them scam-ridden vacation packages. While, as an individual, these spam phone calls are annoying, for a small business, they’re downright expensive. For small businesses, dealing with robocalls is a much bigger problem than for individuals.
Many small businesses must answer each phone call. In my company, we certainly do. And my self-employed sister sells to hundreds of businesses, so she absolutely has to pick up every call. About half the calls she receives are robocalls. That means hours and hours in the course of a week or month answering useless calls, interrupting real work, lowering productivity.
The effect isn’t restricted to incoming calls. Those small businesses that must make calls to clients or patients now find they must leave messages, keep calling, try other means to reach people who no longer answer their phones trying to avoid robocalls. According to a study by Consumer Reports, 70% of Americans no longer answer phone calls from unknown numbers.
By the way—ever wonder how the term “spam” came about for unwanted emails or calls? It goes back to a skit by the British comedy group, Monty Python’s Flying Circus. In the skit, a restaurant served food with the canned luncheon meat brand “SPAM” while a chorus of Vikings sang out “spam, spam, spam,” drowning all other sounds. Thus, spam came to apply to electronic messages repeated over and over, swamping all other communication. (And as an aside, note that Hormel, maker of SPAM ™ luncheon meat, says they never engage in or condone spamming.)
One devious development that made spam calls even harder to deal with for small businesses was the invention of “neighborhood spoofing”—in which the scammers have found a way to show a local prefix for the caller’s phone number, making it look like the call is originating locally.
As a small business owner, robocalls cost me money. If you have a small business, you probably are sick and tired of spam phone calls too. Let’s see what we can do to reduce time wasted on spam in small businesses.
For more information, check out the Federal Communication Commission (FCC)—the government agency tasked with responsibility for telecommunication companies’ oversight.
Spam phone calls cost a pittance to the caller. Of course, spam costs all the rest of us, especially small businesses, taking up time and costing us money.
Copyright Rhonda Abrams, 2019
This article originally ran in USA Today on July 31, 2019