Ring Ring, It’s no one I want to talk to…

31 Jan

It has been said that the first phone call was when Alexander Graham Bell said “Watson come here!”  What isn’t widely known is the second call was a telemarketer calling Bell!  I am perhaps one of the few people, under the age of eighty, that still has a land line.  I remember the days when only geeks and technical people even knew the term, land line.  If you don’t know what it means, it’s simple a line (wire) that runs over the land.  Yep that piece of wire that is (was) connected to your phone ran all the way back to the central office and from there to all the other wired phones.

With the introduction and rapid adoption of wireless telephones there needed to be someway to describe wired, and wireless.  Actually there are still wires being used in the wireless phones just not the bit that connects to the wireless phone.   One of the really great things about the cellular version of the wireless phone was almost the complete absents of telemarketers and debt collections calls.  Well that was then and this is now.  With so many people “cutting the cord”, land line in this case, telemarketers and debt collectors are losing business.  Arbitron, the company that does the radio station ratings, saw this coming and developed another way to collect the very valuable information for their ratings reports.  It looks like a page that they PAY people to carry around with them!   There’s more information on that in a prior article. 😀

Debt collectors are well, pretty much screwed, accept the federal regulators have given them a loophole.  They can call you on your cellular phone, but they have to dial the number manually.  Manual dialing in this case means your information comes up on the debt collectors screen and they have to hit the space bar, enter, etc… to initiate the call.  With telemarketers you can simply interrupt them and say “Put me on your do not call list.”  This won’t work with debt collectors.  They have a legal right to call you once every 7 days and talk to you about the debt you owe.

The best thing, of course, is to pay any debt you have, unless they are calling you about a debt you don’t owe, or you’re not even the person they are calling!  I’ve been in this boat before.  Apparently people lie to debt collectors, so when you tell them you are NOT the person they are call and STOP CALLING this number, they ask questions like “How do I contact this person?” and well you get an attitude like you are lying to them.  I don’t have time in my life to stop what I am doing and help them do their job.

Our land line is actually a pseudo land line in as much as it is VoIP, via AT&T UVerse.  It’s basically POTS, Plain Old Telephone Service, via the Internet.  One of the features that this voice line has is the ability to block calls.  Up to twenty different numbers.  Well the problem is that telemarketers and debt collectors have got wise to this and have purchased literally scores of numbers.  Some may even “spoof” the caller ID in the hope that your curiosity will cause you to answer.  The twenty number list quickly fills up.

Some companies have created hardware solutions that allow you to selectively block one hundred numbers.  Usually expensive and again a finite amount of telephone numbers you can block.  The solution that I have done for myself is free, just takes a little time to set up.

The great and powerful Google has a voice service.  You can get a FREE phone number which has voice mail.  They have several features that can be quite useful.  One is the ability to do voice to text conversion of the voice mail and it can then be e-mailed, or text messaged to you.  One pretty neat feature is the ability to create groups.  You can create a group, named ummmm SPAM, for example.  You can then record a SPECIAL voice mail message and assign it to a specific group.  What I have done is based on that old answer machine high-jinx, the old “Hello?  Ummm speak up I can’t hear you! {beeeeeeep!}”  Hilarity ensues!  lol

The cleaver thing about this is if the company that is calling happens to be a debt collector the machine, or the person has to code the call as “speaking” to someone on that line.  That means they can’t call you back for seven days!  That means your phone rings much much less, because if they called and didn’t SPEAK to anyone they can call be, legally, the next day.  Perhaps sooner.  Occasionally you’ll get the machine, power dialer, that isn’t working quite correctly and you’ll get three, four, ten calls in a single day!

Now once the special voice mail is set up you simply go to your land line and change the voice mail number to be the Google voice number.  Now when the phone rings and you don’t recognize the number, just let it go to the voice mail.  Jump online, and copy the number that called.  Do a Google search on the number, and if it’s a business that calls lots of people, as in a debt collector, or telemarketer, you’ll find them pretty quick in your search.  Now you know they are PHONE spammers, and you can ADD the number in Google Voice to the SPAM group.  Yep that means the next time they call and they go to voice mail, they’ll hear your hilarious “Hello?  Can you hear me?” voice mail message, and not your standard greeting for the people you DO want to talk to.

The AT&T Uverse also gives me the ability to set up a “FIND ME” set of phone numbers.  This means when my land line rings my cell phone rings and displays the number.  I have also set my cell phone voice mail to my Google voice number.  Yep that means all calls go to one voice mail system!  That also means that not only do I have a mobile, portable caller ID with me, I also have the ability to quickly direct a call to voice mail, and if it’s SPAM they get to listen to my cheerful, and misleading greeting!

Google voice doesn’t have a limit on the number of phone numbers you can monitor.  There is no limit on the number of special voice mail greetings you can have.  In fact you can have one for each number you care to assign one to.  My wife really freaked out when I set up a special one for her!  You can imagine the fun you can have with this.  It’s also a great business tool, because you can set special greetings for customers and clients.

The only negative thing I can say about Google Voice is the quality of the audio sucks!  It’s not like you can’t understand what they are saying, so it’s just a minor annoyance, and certainly fine considering the price, free.

On my Android smart phone I have the ability to mark each number as going DIRECTLY to voice mail.  lol, yep, now I just need to wait and see if there is two rings on my cell phone before I bother to look and see if it is someone I want to speak to, all the spammers go directly to voice mail. 😀

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