How to cancel an incoming call on a landline?

I don’t know how POTS works in other countries, but around here the call ends only when the caller puts the handset back to its cradle. If the callee hangs the phone, he can pick it up later (assuming the caller hasnt hanged up in the meantime) and resume talking.

So if the caller for whatever reason doesn’t hang up, callee’s line will be engaged the whole time.

Is there anything the callee can do to cancel the call?

Where’s “around here”? In the USA all you have to do is keep the phone on-hook for about 15 seconds and the line is released.

Sure used to be fun to screw with people who were impatient and didn’t know that. (In my MUCH younger days)

Where do you live? I’m kind of surprised that this is the case. Everywhere I’ve lived in the U.S. and Canada (that I can remember), the system has been the following: if you leave your phone off the hook after the other party hangs up, after about a minute a recording comes on saying something like “If you’d like to make a call, please hang up and dial the number. This is a recording.” I would assume that the other party’s line is freed up by then, though admittedly I’ve never actually checked.

Up until the early 90s I lived in a town (in Central NYS) that had a local independently-owned phone system that worked like this - unless both parties hung up properly the line was not released. Theoretically the phone company could release the line, but since your line was tied up you couldn’t call the phone company to get the line released.

They “modernized” in 1994 or so, enabling people to get touch-tone phones! Wow! :rolleyes:

I remember when phones worked like that (Chicago suburbs). If the person who called you didn’t hang up correctly, you were stuck until they did. You could hear them talking and hear their TV, and I remember trying to get their attention by making noise, but they had to go and hang it up correctly.

I’d forgotten about that, and I don’t know if they still work that way.

One of the Bell System (the old, old, old AT&T) standards was that if the calling party hung up, the line would be released within a second or two. But if the called party hung up (and the calling party did not), then the line wouldn’t be released for x (I don’t remember what x was) seconds.

The idea behind this was that the called party could answer the phone using the nearest extension, but if that wasn’t convenient, they could hang up and run over to a more convenient extension and continue the call from there. Presumably, the calling party would have chosen the most convenient phone before dialing, but the called party might be caught by surprise in an inconvenient location.

As mentioned above, if the called party became impatient, they would keep picking up the phone and restarting the timer each time they picked up the phone.

I did a test on my phone and it terminates after 120 seconds. But is there something (a key combination maybe) to terminate it immediately?

I’ve had trouble killing robo spam calls. Hang up and they are still there 30 seconds later. I’m sure there is some disconnect time out. I never figured out exactly how long it is. I know its at least 45 seconds based on previous experiences.

Whats weird is it doesn’t work the same with real person calls. You can’t hang up and run to another extension in the house. The call gets dropped.


But if it is an emergency and you absolutely have to place a call right now that can’t wait for 120 seconds, on most landline phones there is one thing you can do:

Most local phone companies in the United States enable pay-per-use three-way calling on all lines unless you explicitly ask them not to do it. If you don’t pay the monthly fee for three-way calling, there is some outrageous fee like $2+ per three-way call if you use it. But if it’s worth paying the fee for it… Pick up the phone and press the switchhook for half a second and release it. (If your phone has a “flash” button, press that instead.) You will get a “stutter dial tone” followed by a regular dial tone, you can now dial another call. This would be the way you would place a three-way call. If you wanted all three parties to talk together, you would then flash the switchhook again. But if you don’t flash the switchhook again, you can just talk to the third party and leave the first call on hold.

Our campus phones would not free up a line unless the caller hung up. We used to torture a DJ on the campus radio station that way. We’d force him to play songs we wanted to hear or make him listen to bad poetry in exchange for freeing up his lines.
The good old days (1977-78). He probably hates us to this day.