‘Tis the Season to Rip the Phone Off the Wall

Posted on December 28, 2015


Beware of the Self-Licking Ice Cream Cone, or Why There Should Be No Exemptions to the Do Not Call List.

Now here we are in the Season of Giving. People’s hearts and wallets are open, so of course charities come a-calling. And this is where Lila gets really annoyed with the fact that the Do Not Call List does not apply to charities, which make the phone just as annoying for the Christmas season as politicians do for the election cycle. This year, our nemesis is something called the “Foundation for American Veterans.” The phone has been ringing several times per day for the past several weeks, always with the Caller ID of “Found Amer Vets.” We do not answer. We are not going to answer. One might think that after eight, ten, fourteen calls going unanswered, the caller might take a hint, but nooooo. They call during the day. They call at five minutes before 9 PM. They are making us hate them.

Now, Lila and Hubby are both vets. A lot of our friends are vets. You would think we would be suckers for a veteran-oriented charity, but we have some experience in these matters, and one of the first things one asks is: How much of each dollar goes to the actual veterans? Really good charities keep their overhead costs low, so that a high percentage of each dollar goes to the recipients. Crappy charities are basically just fundraising machines that pay to raise more funds, and a large percentage goes to executive salaries, administrative costs, and fundraising costs. In the military, we referred to this sort of thing as a “self-licking ice cream cone.”

After checking them out online and finding that many people view them as harassers and possibly even scammers, you can bet I am not picking up the phone. Some of these folks asked these tele-charity-marketers how much of their donation goes to the veterans, and were told “15%.” Now, as charities go, that is actually pretty bad. Even worse, independent fact-checkers find that far less actually reaches the veterans… something more like 6% in 2005, and 11% in 2007.

Now see, this makes Lila hate charities. It makes me even more Scrooge-like than my usual curmudgeonly self. And then I feel a little sad, because I know that there are many worthy charities out there that actually do help people, that actually do keep their overhead costs down, and that try hard not to annoy donors with incessant, borderline abusive phone calls. It is those charities… and the people they serve… who are hurt the worst by questionable organizations whose main goals seem to be 1) raise money in order to raise more money, and 2) piss people the f*** off.

[Deep breath] And this is why there should be no exemptions to the Do Not Call List. No surveys, no political ads, no charitable anything, NO CALLS. Period.

Oh, hey:  Happy New Year.