JapanElderly Man in Saitama Airs Grievances in Nearly 24,000 Phone Calls to Telecom Company, Gets Taken into Police Custody

1207 min

It was all-out war in the final week. By telephone. An elderly man experiencing issues with his phone called to complain a total of 411 times in that week, and that was the last straw!

Japan currently has a graying population and rapidly advancing technology, especially smartphone technology, and unfortunately, this results in millions of frustrated people who lack the technological literacy to get through life smoothly. Some telecom companies are considering charging customers for customer service, because there is a large number of elderly people who come to the stores to ask irrelevant questions, such as how to sign up for Netflix or the method to send an e-mail.

It must be difficult to be in your 60s, 70s, 80s, etc. and have to learn how to use such complicated devices, and we can have empathy for them. However, these inquiries cost the company extensive amounts of resources in time and money, and result in longer waiting times for the customers with legitimate questions at telecom companies. It must be “taihen” for the employees there. What would you do if you were an employee at au, Docomo, or Softbank, and you had a customer who called to complain 59 times in one day, about his phone?

In October, that is exactly what the staff at KDDI’s customer hotline had to deal with. The police were called, who took Akitoshi Okamoto into custody, and are now conducting an investigation. He is from Kasukabe, Saitama (the hometown of the popular Crayon Shin-Chan anime). He allegedly called 411 times in a single week to complain. These included such lines as “Come and apologize for violating our contract and for unfair business practices!”

Originally, KDDI did not want to have him arrested. However, he just kept calling and calling, and it was making it difficult to help the other customers. The staff were becoming depressed and unhappy. Finally, KDDI called the police, and Mr. Okamoto was taken into custody.

The police are still investigating. KDDI’s logs show that he called almost 24,000 times over the past two years to complain. Divided by 730 days over the course of two years, that comes out to 33 calls per day.

The police claim that he was angry about not being able to receive radio broadcasts on his phone. When asked his opinion, he exclaimed “I am the victim.”

The majority of netizens did not agree with him. However, many felt that KDDI could have done more to be reasonable and/or pacify him.

“Because of idiots like this, now I’m paranoid that whenever I call customer service, they’ll treat me like a maniac.”
“Clearly this man has too much time on his hands.”
“He probably believes that because he’s a victim, it gives him the right to act horribly to other people.”
“I think calling 10 times ought to be enough for an arrest.”
“If the telecom company bothered the man it should apologize appropriately, but now it has to press harassment charges.”
“If you work in customer service for a while your soul will get crushed. Old people are the worst, but young people are sensible.”
“Seems like they should have reported him sooner.”
“Telecom companies are getting more and more monster complainers it seems.”
“Without knowing the full problem it’s hard to say who’s wrong, but it really seems like he has too much free time.”

What the police are investigating is whether or not to press charges for obstruction of business.

“Obstruction of business” is a sort of Japanese catch-all law that makes it illegal to do various things that interfere with a business’ ability to generate profits. It can cover a wide variety of things including ones not expressly stipulated in the law, such as stabbing oneself so as not to have to go to work, or handing the cashier blood-soaked money for a bowl of gyūdon.

How many phone calls did Mr. Okamoto need to get his point across? Did it really have to be 24,000? Would not just two calls have sufficed? One can definitely hope that in jail, he receives some technological literacy training…