A couple of months ago, I began getting calls on my cell phone from people asking me to remove raccoons from their chimneys. One guy left an urgent message, so I called him back, and got yelled at when I said I had nothing to do with the rodents in his kitchen. None of these people could seem to answer my questions about why they called me. Instead, they’d just insist that I help them.
After about a week of these weird calls, I set my phone to not ring when unknown numbers called. The people would still leave weird voice messages wanting me to call them back about feral cats and rabid dog sightings.
I finally did a reverse lookup on my phone number and it turned out Yahoo has my number listed as a wildlife pest control service. I could find nothing on Yahoo’s website about how to fix this problem other than a note about them not being responsible for wrong information.
A little more digging turned up news that Yahoo contracts out these sorts of search engine listing to another company called Yext. Yext’s website listed a big, long set of procedures for getting wrong information corrected. I filled out all the paperwork, sent it in and heard nothing back from them for about a month.
Finally, a guy from Yext called and said they’d remove my phone number from the pest control service category, but they wanted money from me to do it. Then the guy told me that they supply their listing to various online search engines and that if I didn’t pay the fee, they’d have no choice but to distribute my phone number to all their clients.
I hung up on the guy, and since then, sure enough, my cell phone number is listed on about 20 search engines as belonging to a wildlife pest control service. I’m getting about a dozen voicemails a day now about snakes, hornets, coyotes and marauding beavers.
I’m half tempted to quit my job and start trapping muskrats. It seems I’ve already got the makings of a viable business. I’m probably just going to change my number, though.
Who are these people who still use Yahoo, DuckDuck Go and AOL as their search engines of choice? Judging from the calls I’ve gotten, they’d all score about 30 points below the norm on an IQ test.