Butiama Bed & Breakfast

Butiama Bed & Breakfast

Monday, 3 September 2012

In any name, a beep or a buzz is an absolute nuisance

In Tanzanian parlance we call it a "beep" and the word is used both in English and in Kiswahili conversation although in the latter you might here someone saying he tried to "dip" you from Dar the other day. It is the Tanzanian pastime of dialing up someone's number and when the recipient's phone begins to ring the caller quickly ends the call. It is a signal to the recipient to call back.

Occasionally, the recipient may have said, "beep me and I will call you back." But for the most part it is a despicable habit that Tanzanians have adopted to obtain a conversation without paying for it.

I tend to ignore these calls, particularly if I do not recognize the number. If my mother beeps me I will definitely call her. But she does not, and probably never will. I loathe this behaviour because most of those practicing it can afford to send a text message that will cost a fraction of the call. But they have decided that some other person is perpetually charitable and has no other better option but to call back.

It is one thing to ignore a call while sitting here typing this post. But when I drive and my phone rings I normally stop the car on the side of the road to take the call. If it is someone "beeping", more often than not, just as I have stopped and am reaching for the phone in my pocket the "beeper" has ended the call and I have more than a few unprintable words to share with the caller.

It is annoying enough if you normally take your calls while driving because of the temporary distraction, but if you have to stop to take calls it becomes extremely inconvenient.

Now, the phone companies have joined the list of annoying callers. They don't beep, but the effect is the same. Not satisfied with the incessant number of unsolicited text messages to subscribers the mobile phone operators are also making automated calls with commercial content. I have stopped the car a few times believing I am responding to someone I know and, instead, receive a recorded message offering a special promotion from one of these companies.

I have tried to call after one of these calls to tell them I do not want to hear of any message from them, ever. And would they please remove me from their list? The customer service representative, who are normally extremely rude, quietly told me that he would make sure that my wish would be granted. It took me about 15 minutes through an automated answering system full of menu choices before I could talk to a human being to get the message delivered.

You wonder how easy it would be for the company to offer subscribers the option to choose whether or not they prefer to receive these annoying text messages and phone calls instead of assuming every phone user is interested.

The mobile phone has revolutionized communications and concurrently created a huge nuisance for some users.

Fortunately, smart phone applications have considerably expanded the ability to block annoying text messages and calls. Android has Mr. Number, a perfect tool for blocking unwanted text messages and calls.

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