DEAR MISS MANNERS: Caller ID and other technologies made it possible, for a few years, to screen out telemarketers by ignoring phone calls from unfamiliar numbers. But technology marches on, and now telemarketers are using false phone numbers, lifelike recordings and intelligent voice recognition to fool people into accepting calls we don’t want and engaging with callers who may well not even be human.
What’s our obligation to be polite when a call is deceptive and the caller possibly a robot? May one talk over a caller who never stops to breathe, saying, “Thank you, but I’m not interested”? If the caller is pre-programmed to respond in a way most likely to extend the conversation, is it acceptable to hang up the phone wordlessly?
GENTLE READER: Yes. If you have made every effort to politely interrupt the person, but to no avail, then they only have themselves to blame for the disconnection.
And as faultlessly well-mannered and undiscriminating as Miss Manners may be, she does not require you to be polite to a robot.