I recently wrote My First IP Relay Call! and shared that I felt the call was a scam.

Joe (who didn’t further identify himself) shared this:

Ip-relay is not a scam. It is a unique product the deaf people can make a call with the help of an operator.

The deaf person just happen to be looking for a casket. Although, he/she shouldn’t hang up on you which left you off on a different impression.

Although, the ip-relay is a call people don’t get on daily basis and it is normal for them to reply unsure and label them as a scammer.

It is but non-deaf people such as a teenager kid loves to mess around with ip-relay making a prank call.

I enclose you an information on ip-relay. I hope you will find this helpful.


Then, one of our constant readers, Marcella, commented:

Don’t you think you’re being a little reactionary, Tim? “This is a lot like the scams we’ve seen via email….” No it’s not. The phone call wasn’t long enough for you to assess that.

As a hearing person with Deaf friends, I am familiar with TTY use and relay calls, as well as the shorthand that often goes with them. To me, this call seems like a valid call from a Deaf person — a quick call to find out whether you are the kind of business they need.

I hope that funeral directors don’t read your post and adopt a negative attitude toward relay calls.

Deaf people need funeral homes just as hearing people do. And, as we all know, a large percentage of *all* people are uncomfortable contacting funeral homes — they may not know how to phrase their questions or even what questions to ask.

If there’s a chance that an email or phone call you receive is from a Deaf person, it can be helpful to keep in mind that, as with any language, ASL does not translate word-for-word into English. If anyone reading this wants more info about working with Deaf people, you can start with NAD.org (National Association of the Deaf).

BTW, Tim, back in January 2007, you posted about the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), saying you would be researching whether funerals homes are required to provide sign language interpreters. I’d love to know what you found out.

After reading these two comments, I immediately thought that these two readers believed that I either A) don’t know that IP relay is a real service, used by real people or B) jumped to conclusions because I have a bias against deaf people.

Then I calmed down and re-read the comments.  And then I re-read my post.  And then I understood.

Before describing the IP relay call, I should have quoted the email that I get almost every week, that starts out with “do you sell casket?”

The email then goes on to say that they are looking for a funeral home to help them because someone has died in Africa or another foreign country.

I get this email at several accounts at one time, which tells me either the sender is a scammer or really, really, really needs ANY funeral home to help them.

And since I don’t run a funeral home, I doubt it’s the latter.

Interestingly, many times I’ll get the same message, almost word for word, from separate email accounts and with different spelling (but same words) from different email accounts.

Truth is, funeral service is an inherently local industry.  People who call for your services will know where you are located and, hopefully, will know whether you are actually a funeral home.

So, to clear things up, here are the things I left out:

1.  I don’t run a funeral home.  My number is not listed in any phone book or on any website as a funeral home.  I cannot help anyone (even a legitimate IP relay user) bury their loved one. 

2.  There was no introduction, just “do you sell casket?”  Economy of words from a grieving deaf person or scam?

3.  I love deaf people.  One of the guys on my football team is deaf and he texts me all the time.  In fact, his grammar is just as good as mine, probably since he uses a computer and, occasionally, IP relay.  Do some people shorthand IP relay?  I guess so.  However, I’d still encourage caution.

I haven’t changed my mind about IP relay, although I should remind you that this kind of call is a perfectly normal way for some of your potential clients to contact you.  Yes, my experience mirrored the spam/scam emails I get weekly, but you should, at least, listen longer to decide whether the caller has a legitimate reason to call you or is trying to scam you.

As for the question that Marcella, my faithful reader, posed:  I still haven’t gotten an answer to the ADA question I posed a while ago.  But when I get back from my trip, I’ll work on it.