2007.15.07 Searching for Austin Graven

Written by David Green.

By RICH FOLEY
Let’s have a show of hands, please. Has anyone else gotten a phone call from Austin Graven lately? Yeah, me, too. Lots of them, in fact. The timing is uncanny.
The call always seems to come 10 to 20 minutes before I return home, no matter when that might be. If it’s on a work day, my Caller ID will show Austin called at 5:15 to 5:45. If it’s my day off, the call will be right before I return home from the post office or grocery shopping. How does he always seem to know when I’m not home?
Since the number shown with the name had a Colorado Springs, Colo., area code, I wondered if it might be one of my long-lost (actually, I’ve never even met them) relatives from Colorado. Could I be heir to some huge fortune I was totally unaware of? No such luck, as it turns out.
I searched the internet and ended up on a site for disgruntled victims of telemarketers. It turns out the number belongs not to a person named Austin Graven, but to a telemarketing firm called Graven, Austin & Drake, Inc., specializing in magazine subscription sales.
I’m actually one of their lucky clients. The website I discovered had many complaints from people claiming they were called dozens of times each week and/or hung up on when they answered their phone. Others complained of constant pitches to buy or renew magazine subscriptions. That’s where I got on the list, I’m sure. Those “free” magazine subscriptions are coming back to haunt me, via telephone.
The site even had a map showing the locations of victims. For some reason the east and west coasts were nearly devoid of complainants, but the midwest and south were full of the annoyed. You can add your location to the map and, thanks to me, Fayette is now represented by a computer-generated pushpin.
Additionally, on a related subject, there’s the case of the former owners of my phone number. I wrote a couple of years ago of the joys of being verbally abused by people calling for the family who used to have my telephone number, but apparently moved without giving their new number to anyone.
After several months of aggravation, the number of calls eventually dropped off to a trickle, then stopped completely—or so I thought. A few weeks ago, I started to be bombarded by phone messages for the family once again.
I received one from a hospital for the female in the family that went on for nearly four minutes. I learned all about her upcoming surgery, her doctor’s name, her pre-op instructions, etc. I even found out she had been at the hospital in April. Too bad she never bothered to tell anybody she changed her number years ago. Luckily for her, I phoned the contact number the caller gave and left a message informing them they had a wrong number. I hope the surgery went well.
Then there was a call from the library for the family’s child, announcing that a book she had ordered had arrived. I now know something about their reading habits, too.
Finally, there was the collection call. This was from a Fulton County business, but showed up as “unknown caller” and the number as “(777) 777-7777” on my caller ID. I’d like to know how they pulled off that little trick.
The message, however, made it quite clear who was calling and that they expected a return call to their real number to talk about “the account.” Since I had nothing to fear from the business, I returned the message, hoping I could get removed from at least one phone list. It turned out to be a very productive call.
The person answering apologized, and offered to look through her records to see if she could match up the first names I provided and my phone number to anyone on her list. Not only did she find them, she also accidentally blurted out the last name. 
She promised to take my number off her list and I hung up and headed straight to my phone book, finally armed with a last name. Sure enough, there was their current number. After three years of dealing with their ill-mannered callers, I now had an advantage.
But what to do with the information? Obviously, I’m going to give their present phone number to anyone calling for the family, but should I stop there? Maybe call them repeatedly and ask for me? They’d deserve it, but I just had an even better idea. Maybe I should give their new number to Austin Graven and say they want to buy a magazine subscription.
  • Front.train
    WRECKAGE—Morenci Fire Department member Taylor Schisler walks past the smoking wreckage of a semi-truck tractor on the north side of the Norfolk and Southern Railroad tracks on Ranger Highway. The truck trailer was on the south side of the tracks
  • Front.sculpta
    SCULPTORS—Morenci third grade students Emersyn Thompson (left) and Marissa Lawrence turn spaghetti sticks into mini sculptures Friday during a class visit to Stair District Library. All Morenci Elementary School classes recently visited the library to experience the creative construction toys purchased through the “Sculptamania!” project, funded by a Disney Curiosity Creates grant. The grant is administered by the Association for Library Services to Children, a division of the American Library Association.
  • Funcolor
    LEONIE LEAHY was one of three local hair stylists who volunteered time Friday at the Morenci PTO Fun Night. Her customer, Aubrey Sandusky, looks up at her mother while her hair takes on a perfect match to her outfit. Leahy said she had a great time at the event—nothing but happy clients.
  • Shadow.salon
    LEARNING THE ROPES—Kristy Castillo (left), co-owner of Mane Street Salon, works with Kendal Kuhn as Sierra Orner takes a phone call. The two Morenci Area High School juniors spent Friday at the salon as part of a job shadowing experience.
  • KayseInField
    IN THE FIELD—2004 Morenci graduate Kayse Onweller works in a test plot of wheat in Texas. She’s part of Bayer CropScience’s North American wheat breeding program based in Nebraska, where she completed post-graduate work in plant breeding and genetics.
  • Front.winner
    REFEREE Camden Miller raises the hand of Morenci Jr. Dawgs wrestler Ryder Ryan as his opponent leaves the mat in disappointment. Morenci’s youth wrestling program served as host for a tournament Saturday morning to raise money for the club. Additional photos are on the back page.
  • Front.bank.2
    SHERWOOD STATE Bank opened its Fayette office at a grand opening Friday morning, drawing a large crowd to view the renovated building. Above, Burt Blue talks to teller Cindy Funk, while his wife, Jackie, looks around the new office. The Blues missed the opening and took a quick tour on Tuesday. Few traces remain of the former grocery store and theater, however, part of the original brick wall still shows in the hallway leading to the back of the building. The drive-through window should be ready for customers later in the month.
  • Front.make.three
    FROM THE LEFT, Landon Wilkins, Ryan White and Logan Blaker try out their artistic skills Saturday afternoon at the Morenci PTO’s first Date to Create event. More than 50 people showed up to create decorated planks of wood to hang from rope. The event served as a fund-raiser for miscellaneous PTO projects. Additional photos are on the back of this week’s Observer.

Weekly newspaper serving SE Michigan and NW Ohio - State Line Observer ©2006-2016