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Athena

S06.E04: Robocalls

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Other segments: Presidency of Jair Bolsonaro, Donald Trump

 

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Hee, I love when John Oliver's in total "give no fucks" mode :D. That's awesome. Of course Pai would be tied up in this story somehow. Why am I not surprised.

It warms my heart that Bolsonaro's struggling in the polls. Hopefully that continues to be the case and it ultimately leads to the fall of his run in office. Also, I think that Michael Jackson float is rather appropriate given the recent documentary-let people flip it off and throw beer at it the way they did Bolsonaro.

Anytime I see Trump visiting victims of natural disasters, all I can think is, "Haven't those people suffered enough?" Surprised lightning didn't strike when he signed one of those Bibles. 

And speaking of leaders in trouble, going to Google Trudeau, 'cause I don't believe I've heard about this scandal he's currently involved in. Hm. 

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I think the Michael Jackson float is there because of a music video he did in Brazil called "They Don't Care About Us" from the mid 90s.

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John is the hero we need in these times. (tbh, I hope a few other show fans also set up robocalls to the FCC officers and they get bombed more than every 90 minutes.)

Also, John's list of shitty President’s was hilarious. Although I'd say the current WH occupant qualifies as a goober. Flag hug? I can't imagine Pai ever winning the office just based on being anti-net neutrality and pro-robocaller.

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I didn’t like the Trump is funny bit. None of the cases were jokes and there is a huge difference between him and an Adam Sandler movie because real people are being harmed. It’s scary as fuck and these incidents areone of the reasons his supporters feel that people shouldn’t take what he says at face value because he doesn’t really mean it/just a mistake.  

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Gee, Susan Collins, really? That was awkward on so many levels.

Also, I love cheese, but Rachel Ray is over the top when she does cheese. It kind of makes me vomit she puts a pound of cheese like it was nothing. 

Edited by Robert Lynch
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So, hey, John. I think I owe you an apology. Here I was, watching  the show, thinking it was okay, but not that great. “Funny” Trump, cheesy Rachael Ray, and robocalls weren’t really doing it for me. But you ended it so brilliantly with the huge button and FCC robocall scheme. I should have had more faith in you. 

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what are the phone numbers for the fcc people? i thought he was going to show them so we cold all call and voice our displeasure!

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5 hours ago, biakbiak said:

I didn’t like the Trump is funny bit. None of the cases were jokes and there is a huge difference between him and an Adam Sandler movie because real people are being harmed. It’s scary as fuck and these incidents areone of the reasons his supporters feel that people shouldn’t take what he says at face value because he doesn’t really mean it/just a mistake.  

At this point he's not. Saying "Tim Apple" isn't a big deal to me. It's kind of dumb but an easy slip that I'm sure has been made before. The whole 'big uh-brain' at the UN is just appalling. 

4 hours ago, Robert Lynch said:

Gee, Susan Collins, really? That was awkward on so many levels.

I can't stand when the traditional media lauds her as this moderating force in the senate when she is no such thing, so I'm glad John threw real shade at her. 

4 hours ago, Robert Lynch said:

Also, I love cheese, but Rachel Ray is over the top when she does cheese. It kind of makes me vomit she puts a pound of cheese like it was nothing. 

Honestly, that was way creepy. I like cheese, but dial it down lady. You're drowning the food. 

I'm wondering if there's going to be any fallout at the FCC. 

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Squirting Mustard was happy with the shout-out it received.

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6 hours ago, biakbiak said:

I didn’t like the Trump is funny bit. None of the cases were jokes and there is a huge difference between him and an Adam Sandler movie because real people are being harmed.

I did like the title of the Sandler film: President Uh-Oh.

But I agree that Trump's misstatements, tongue-fumbling, and inanity are not funny in a joking sense. I laugh AT him, but it's always accompanied by a head-shake or face-palm. 

I didn't understand why that one phone rep -- don't know what to call her -- couldn't simply say, "I am not a robot." 

Bolsonaro getting his giant puppet egged and abused was fantastic. 

I hope to hear more about John's robocalling of the FCC.  

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14 hours ago, Annber03 said:

And speaking of leaders in trouble, going to Google Trudeau, 'cause I don't believe I've heard about this scandal he's currently involved in. Hm. 

As a Canadian, I'm shaking my head. It always feel a repeat when these scandals.

I like cheese too, but grew up in a mostly lactose intolerant household so I only reserve it for the weekend or a couple times a week at most. Ray puts so much cheese on her food that it would have to mask the other ingredients. I wondered when looking at the amount of cheese she uses in her recipes, if people eat her weekday meals every day. She has a huge empire and it really leans into this kind of food. Also, decent cheese is not cheap.

3 hours ago, peeayebee said:

I didn't understand why that one phone rep -- don't know what to call her -- couldn't simply say, "I am not a robot." 

She was a robot of some sort but funnily enough, was not programmed to say "I'm not a robot." Maybe for legal reasons, whoever was using the robocaller couldn't allow "her" to say it.

My parents still have a landline and anytime I'm back home, I pick up the phone to numerous robocalls. For my mobile, I tend to ignore most calls that I do not know the origin especially ones from other area codes. These scam robocalls are very predatory and usually target a lot of older populations.

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I don't understand how a robot can actually converse like she was. I'll have to rewatch. Maybe I missed the obvious. Also, why not program it to say "I am not a robot"? If that's because it would be a lie, then so too would be "I am a real person."

Edited by peeayebee
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You can tell with the pause before she answers that it's searching in a database for the right reply. Unlike some robocallers who use a robot voice, this program had a recording of an actual woman laughing and saying "I am a real person." What was creepy to me was how the laugh was exactly the same every time.

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I get my share of robocalls regularly, and just don't pick up (they never leave voicemail). But I see whoever is behind it is getting clever, because some use local numbers now.

HA! I got one as I was typing this! 

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While I thought the episode was well-done and interesting, I didn't find much funny.  I don't enjoy scatological humor/pee jokes, and watching Rachael Ray ooh over cheese just made me hungry.  

I don't get too many robocalls where they've faked a business name (or the IRS), but a lot where they fake my area code and the first three digits.  Since I know actually no one who shares my area code, it's easy to know they're fake.  My carrier usually flags them as Scam Likely.  What's also infuriating is that all the robocalls ring my phone, while real calls sometimes don't.  The other night the phone was right next to me, and I saw the flash message that I missed a call a minute earlier, from someone on my contacts list.  Apparently she had tried me the day before, too, and it never rang.  But the robocallers get right through, 100% of the time.

I only wish John was robocalling the FCC more often than every 90 minutes, say, every 90 seconds.

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I'm still stuck on the woman who received 6K calls over four years due to "one late mortgage payment."

Four years and she never caught up on the payment and/or paid the late fee? She never picked up one of those calls and spoke to the agent to say it had been paid? Wells Fargo never updated their records?

I'm also dubious that one late payment would trigger a collection avalanche like that in the first place.

Bottom line is I hope Oliver's research staff didn't just take that local news report at face value.

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2 hours ago, peeayebee said:

I didn't understand why that one phone rep -- don't know what to call her -- couldn't simply say, "I am not a robot." 

The cadence and pauses seemed off to me. I think they were programmed to respond to "robot" with "I'm a real person" because I think it would be insanely hard to program them to respond verbatim to a caller. The guy should have said, "Can you say I don't like pineapple on my pizza?" And would have gotten a similar inane answer. You'd need infinite processing power. 

2 hours ago, Athena said:

Ray puts so much cheese on her food that it would have to mask the other ingredients.

That's what I was thinking. If you drown it in cheese, what's the point of cooking it by the recipe?

1 hour ago, meowmommy said:

I don't get too many robocalls where they've faked a business name (or the IRS), but a lot where they fake my area code and the first three digits. 

 I get those too, but I don't live in the area code anymore. 

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Yeah, this episode was more of a miss for me than a hit.  Like almost every single person I know, I let all of my calls go to voicemail.  Google has a screener for robocalls as well.  It would be great if they all zarked off but mostly it just means I only answer calls from friends and family...who all know bloody well that I would laugh my ass off and hang up if they asked for my social security number "Real quick, just give it to me" ...we're a paranoid people here, I don't think that would work on anyone in the house.  

I really, deeply, absolutely do not find the current administration amusing on any level.  At all.  Whatsoever.   So mostly, I just sat there seething, "He's not funny."  "That wasn't funny, either" "Yeah, that one?  Even less funny than the other not funny things."  

But I did enjoy the FCC finger! 

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I did love John giving the huge finger to the FCC.  Thanks! 

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3 hours ago, 2727 said:

I'm also dubious that one late payment would trigger a collection avalanche like that in the first place.

Same here.  I actually had a Wells Fargo mortgage that they foreclosed on pretty quickly in 2013, and the number of calls -- robo or otherwise -- that I received?  Zero.

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I have an answering machine at home. Whenever there's a call, I let the machine do the work. If it's someone I know or is of importance to me, I pick it up. That way, I don't get bothered with these annoying robocalls. My sister says the worst time they call is late afternoon, early evening when people are having their dinner. She doesn't usually pick up the phone at that time.

All that said, I'm for anything that makes that little dickwipe Ajit Pai's life a living hell, as Ollie seems want to do.

And if Drumpf is funny, it's in the "OMG, WTF is wrong with you?!!" mode. Drumpf can't be truly funny if his life were in Putin's hands.

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Wow party of one I guess I laughed so hard at the trump is funny segment my whole body hurt and I really thought I was going to have an accident...

trump can be worse than funny of course but come on, “or Nancy as I call her” and johns face and his “because it’s her NAME” just had me dying.

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Just now, lucindabelle said:

Wow party of one I guess I laughed so hard at the trump is funny segment my whole body hurt and I really thought I was going to have an accident...

trump can be worse than funny of course but come on, “or Nancy as I call her” and johns face and his “because it’s her NAME” just had me dying.

Agreed. I love the ever-growing list of words he misspells.

Plus, I think some of those moments with him are "funny" in the sense of, you kinda have to laugh or else you'll just cry. 

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I Got my first robocall in months, I blame John.

3 hours ago, Annber03 said:

Plus, I think some of those moments with him are "funny" in the sense of, you kinda have to laugh or else you'll just cry. 

I prefer seething anger to either of those options. 

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My caller ID displays on my TV screen, so I don't even need to look at the phone to see who's calling.  I get very few legit calls, but a whole lot of solicitation/robocalls.  It's annoying as hell, but it would seem there's not much that can be done about it.

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The other day I received seven calls within four hours from the same 800 number (Google told me it was Microsoft tech support).  The first five disconnected without saying anything.  The last two told me that they detected a virus in my computer! 

Get bent, fuckfaces.  I don’t even OWN a PC.

I join the chorus that cried Trump is NOT funny in any way and trying to normalize his dumb ass is how we ended up here.

Thanks, John, for reminding me I needed to buy stamps...by using the incredibly strenuous journey of going to usps.com.  The most arduous part was backing out of your cart and having the page default back to the showing the fewest options.

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I bought a stamp yesterday! The PO has a self serve kiosk. 

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13 minutes ago, ganesh said:

I bought a stamp yesterday! The PO has a self serve kiosk. 

My nearest post office also has one, but it won't let you buy just one stamp. You have to buy three. There's always a 10-person-plus line waiting for the human clerks at the post office, so buying one stamp is a giant pain in the ass.

Edited by bilgistic
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I got a robocall that spoofed my own land line number. The call was literally coming from inside the house.

I started watching while eating a ham sandwich, with mustard. . . and cheese.

I forgot where, but I saw someone do a similar Trump gaffe compilation. Their conclusion, which I agreed with, was that if you saw your parent or grandparent making such blunders, it might be time for the family to gather and have that awkward conversation about whether they should still live on their own. 

I didn't see any mention of a robocall deluge on Ajit Pai or the other commissioners' twitter feeds.

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4 hours ago, bilgistic said:

My nearest post office also has one, but it won't let you buy just one stamp. You have to buy three. There's always a 10-person-plus line waiting for the human clerks at the post office, so buying one stamp is a giant pain in the ass.

There was a minimum $1.10. I had to send in a form for jury duty by mail (even though I could have had delivered it across the street to the courthouse), but one stamp was $.55, so I had to buy another. 

But now, when someone says, "Where the hell am I going to get a stamp?!" I'll sell mine for drinks. 

It was actually convenient. 

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5 hours ago, xaxat said:

I got a robocall that spoofed my own land line number. The call was literally coming from inside the house.

Yeah, those ones are the stupidest. Spoofing my local area code I get. But do they really think I'm going to pick up an OBVIOUSLY spoofed call? It just looks dumb ... and somehow creepy.

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The more Jair Bolsonaro pisses off Brazilians, the better. That guy is a dangerous lunatic, and he needs to be rendered irrelevant before he goes full fascist.

I didn't care for the Trump = funny bit. I think John had the wrong approach on that, because he was acting like Trump was deliberately trying to be funny, which he almost never is (except at his shitty rallies). It's the embarrassment of having such a clearly ill, mentally unfit man in this preeminent position that makes people laugh at his gaffes, simply because the alternative is to panic. Trump himself is not in on the joke. Ever.

Robocalls aren't nearly the problem in the UK that they are in the US, it seems. I can recall a handful of times I've had a robocall,  but most nuisance callers are still very much human. Doesn't make them any less annoying, particularly the ones that say "I believe you've recently had an accident..." when I haven't.

I did laugh at that awful woman, Susan Collins, awkwardly trying to display an understanding of technology she's clearly unfamiliar with. And also at the ridiculously dramatic tone of the narrator and the background music, for the Today.com video. This stuff is completely unconscious in American news - it's all geared around scaring the viewer, even while no one is apparently truly interested in addressing the actual problems. As usual, this sort of thing is a free for all in America - no regulations on shady business practices whatsoever.

John's rant about the inherent laziness of humans to do simple tasks that will address the thing they're unhappy about was hilarious, though. And he's right, companies do know that. For the first year or so out of university, I worked for a credit card company that would only accept account closures by mail, because they knew the vast majority of people just wouldn't bother.

I've got to say, anyone, or any robot, phoning me and saying "there is a live person here" is going to get hung up on.

Sending robocalls to the FCC commissioners was a genius move. I really love this show's low level but high profile activism. 

Edited by Danny Franks
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I just always have stamps in the house. Birthday cards, a couple of bills, misc.

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I get a lot of robocalls but I never answer.  My general policy is not to answer the phone if it's not in my contacts already and anyone who would need to contact me knows to just send a text anyway.  My boss, on the other hand, answers every damn call and I routinely hear her asking the bot on the other end to take her off their list.  Robocalls are annoying on many different levels.

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2 hours ago, scarynikki12 said:

I get a lot of robocalls but I never answer.  My general policy is not to answer the phone if it's not in my contacts already and anyone who would need to contact me knows to just send a text anyway.  My boss, on the other hand, answers every damn call and I routinely hear her asking the bot on the other end to take her off their list.  Robocalls are annoying on many different levels.

This is my boyfriend! I always tell him not to answer if he doesn’t recognize the number and that if it’s something real/important a message will be left. Apparently John has more sway than I do because he didn’t answer one tonight! 

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12 hours ago, OpalNightstream said:

Wow I must be old. I always have stamps in the house just in case. 

Same (except I'm not old), but I'm on my last sheet, so color me irritated to learn that stamps are now 55 friggin cents each.  I hope the USPS finds other ways of making money sooner or later, even if only because letter-writing and physical mail themselves are fading out.  My office sends a ton of correspondence, and this year we began an electronic system.  And we're late to that bandwagon.  I did a couple letter writing campaigns in the run up to the midterms, and I can see those kinds of activities falling off too, just because they're too expensive.

In other news, I only got rid of my dumbphone a little over a year ago (I realize this is losing me the "I'm not old" argument), and I immediately became a target for spam calls.  I don't know how my smartphone is to blame, but that's what I've always done.  I learned after the first couple not to answer numbers I don't know, but they are a huge nuisance.  Trolling Ajit Pai probably won't make a big difference in political will to change the regulations (ringing their phones every 9 minutes maybe?), but it gave me big schadenfraude to see that little finger push that little button that made that big finger push that huge button.

And obviously, Donald Trump is ridiculous.  Hence, people gonna ridicule him, and people gonna laugh.  It's basically the bedrock of every late night show in the US right now.  I think that segment was the show working out some psychic guilt over the fact that laughing at Trump might empower him even as it eviscerates him.  Saying that there is a way to try and do it responsibly, balancing the reality of our circumstances with the absolute, unbelievable-unless-you're-living-through-it absurdity of Trump and many of the others currently causing these problems.  I think this show is one of the very few that routinely excels at that balance.

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I used to have stamps because I had to mail my rent even though the landlords lived in the next city over and could have just had a dropbox. But that was the only stamps I ever used. I've moved into a house and just didn't need them anymore. 

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I still mail in my car payment because (get this) I hate driving. The bank where I have my car loan is less than five miles away.

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4 minutes ago, ganesh said:

Can't you just make an electronic transfer?

I would need to open a savings account at the bank where I have my car loan. I am okay with mailing it.

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That's not necessarily true across the board. I had different accounts. 

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1 minute ago, ganesh said:

That's not necessarily true across the board. I had different accounts. 

The bank where I have my car loan representative said I would need to do that for their bank.

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I'm not a card guy so I don't send anything, but I have gotten cards. 

Edited by ganesh
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On 3/12/2019 at 8:58 PM, xaxat said:

I got a robocall that spoofed my own land line number. The call was literally coming from inside the house.

I’ve been getting those this week too.  At first the name identified as my ex husband and I almost answered out of curiousity before I saw the number.  Later in the week the name became my first name and my ex’s last name, which I never took, which was easier to ignore but somehow also creepier.

On 3/13/2019 at 10:16 AM, ganesh said:

Has there been any fallout with the FCC?

John was on Watch What Happens Live on Bravo on Wednesday night I think, and he said they hadn’t heard from the FCC.  He was surprised. 

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On 3/14/2019 at 10:28 AM, Enigma X said:

I would need to open a savings account at the bank where I have my car loan. I am okay with mailing it.

I would have just set up a recurrent payment from my bank, who would either do an electronic transfer, if possible, or cut and mail them a paper check.  I don't mail any payments to anyone.  

Got another spoof call this morning, faking my area code + first 3.  T-mobile flags it as Scam Likely.  Then I get a voice mail notice, but the "voice mail" recording lasts zero seconds.

4 hours ago, TexasGal said:

John was on Watch What Happens Live on Bravo on Wednesday night I think, and he said they hadn’t heard from the FCC.

Hope that doesn't mean those numbers aren't monitored.  Maybe they're just set up to make the public feel like they have a place to call.

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