15th December 2006

Using technology to keep tenants and contractors in line

This post is going to be kind of technology heavy so if you’re not so inclined, you can stop reading now. I won’t be offended, believe me. 🙂
Anyway, in the past I’ve had problems with tenants who seem to think that it’s OK for them to call my cell phone at all hours of the day and night. They probably do this because they think that my cell phone is the most direct route to contact me and they would like an answer to their question or problem RIGHT NOW. Never mind that they can’t seem to “remember” that at the beginning of the month, rent is due and when I call to find out where it is, they are no where to be found, but no, they want a response RIGHT NOW, so….

I might mention by-the-way that I NEVER give tenants or contractors my cell phone number but sometimes I forget to change the setting on my phone so that it displays “Private Caller” on their caller-id display and so they think that they are being “assertive” by calling my cell phone. I have an office number for them to call which pages me immediately and I call them back….usually immediately.

Case in point, I used to own a seasonal rental house near the beach a few years ago. A woman who rented the house for about two months was a little bit of a kook. Something about needing her 3 Labrador Retrievers with her because they “help her write” some book that she was writing. Whatever. She proceeded to call me on my cell phone at 11:00pm on a Saturday night (while I was out at a restaurant no less) to ask me how to use the VCR (!!!) WTF!?

Anyway, I recently started using a free software package called Asterisk. Asterisk will turn an old computer that you may have laying around into a free private-branch exchange (PBX). It can behave like a simple office phone system but it can also give you the ability to “appear” to be calling from somewhere (the office) when you’re really placing the call from elsewhere (your cell phone).

It’s really neat! In addition to this functionality, you can also set it up to forward calls from a certain number to something called a softphone which is basically a piece of software which behaves like a phone.

Theoretically, you could be anywhere in the world and attached to the internet, where you could receive and place calls from a number local to the caller.

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  1. 1 On July 19th, 2007, How To Avoid Wells Fargo Collections Dept Via Phone said:

    […] wrote about Asterisk earlier in this post about how to keep tenants’ and contractors’ phone manners in check using this system […]

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