Why can your doctor refuse to see you if you’re 15 minutes late for an appointment, but keep you waiting half an hour if you’re on time?
Why do you have to pay if you cancel on your dentist with less than 24 hours notice, but the dentist can cancel on you the morning of the appointment?
Why do you have to pay for a brief visit from the plumber or the cable company, but you don’t get reimbursed for your time if they get there four hours late?
And why do automated telephone calls roll in at inopportune times, with no recourse for the recipient?
These are common grievances. But every so often, someone strikes back in a creative way.
This morning’s Washington Post has the delightful story of Aaron Titus of Prince George's County, who was awakened at 4:33 a.m. on Wednesday by a ringing telephone. Of course, anyone -- whether a parent like Titus or not -- panics when the phone rings in the dead of night. But when Titus grabbed the phone, he found himself “listening in disbelief to an automated caller tell him what he already knew: It was a snow day. School would open two hours late. In other words, he and his family could sleep.”
After getting some more sleep, the attorney recorded a robocall of his own and sent it off at 4:30 Thursday morning to Prince George's County Schools Superintendent William Hite, General Counsel Roger Thomas, and nine school board members. It said:
This is a Prince George's County School District parent, calling to thank you for the robocall yesterday at 4:30 in the morning. I decided to return the favor. While I know the school district wanted to ensure I drop my child off two hours late on a snow day, I already knew that before I went to bed. I hope this call demonstrates why a 4:30 a.m. call does more to annoy than to inform.' Quit robocalling parents at 4:30 in the morning or at least allow us to opt out of these intrusive calls.
School board member Donna Hathaway Beck, who was awakened by Titus’s call, expressed sympathy. “I wholeheartedly agree that calls at that hour of the morning are a bad idea,” she told the Post. Another school board member, who did not get Titus’s call, said, “It's certainly something that I welcome all parents to do -- communicate with us, by any means necessary.”
Regarding the original 4:33 call, a schools spokesman told the Post it was due to a glitch. “It's the first time -- and the last time.”
Follow P.J. Orvetti on Twitter at @PJOinDC