Spam-filter-like phone service to block robo-calls!

. . . and more ways to torment telemarketers.

How to torment telemarketers, Los Angeles Times columnist David Lazarus, January 14, 2014.

Asked readers to suggest ways to torment telemarketers, got deluged with responses (surprise!), lists a few of them here. Also, links to an earlier column on the subject.

Okay, we’ve done threads here before about tormenting telemarketers. If you like that idea, go read these articles for more ways.

But here are some things I hadn’t seen before (near the end of the linked article):

How do you suppose this technology works? Especially, how does it distinguish trash robo-calls from legit robo-calls (although that’s an oxymoron).

ETA: And, note, says this service is FREE!

ETA: Oops, I think this should be in MPSIMS, not IMHO. Reporting to the mods (if we still have mods) for forum change.

I can’t imagine being so irritated by an occasional phone call that takes up no more than five seconds of my time to hang up on it, that I would find myself spending hours of my life trying to find ways to “torment” minimum-wage drones who are just doing their job and have no input into who they call or for what purpose.

For me it’s the “uncanny valley” that makes the voice-recognition robo-calls so disproportionately annoying.

All of them, but especially the ones who are programmed to lie and say they are not robo-calls.

To be sure, I myself generally do as Smapti says, or even more often, I just don’t answer. I have an answering mochine to screen my calls. I look at the caller ID before answering (or sometimes, don’t even bother doing that). Any callers, robo or otherwise, can converse with my answering machine (if they so choose, which many phone-spammers, robo or otherwise, don’t). Then I answer if I so choose.

Still, they are approximately infinitely irritating. And it’s annoying to think how many other people they may actually be defrauding. There’s lots of room for lots of RO here, is what it really mostly is.

I’m still interested in how they screen for robo-calls. Obviously, enough people are enough annoyed that the FTC put a $25,000 bounty on them, and somebody got it.

Deegeea says, above:

What does “uncanny valley” mean? I not familiar with that phrase.

I just don’t answer. I doubt anyone wants to be a telemarketer (especially the low level type making cold calls) and abusing them isn’t going to make the company change their policies. At best, the caller eventually quits and the company hires some other chump desperate for even a minimum wage to get abused for nine hours a day.

I think an automated way of blocking the calls is a good thing. If the calls just can’t go through then maybe the company will eventually change its marketing to something else.

I’m not positive but I think it refers to the long silent gap between when you answer the phone and when you get a reply.

No the uncanny valley has to do with thing seeming or not seeming human. You see, at first, humans seem to find things that look vaguely human to be more comforting or cuter. The more human it looks, the better. But, at a certain point, you get too close, and it starts seeming creepy. The uncanny valley is that point.

In other words, the person finds the robocall voice to be creepy because it’s so close but not quite human sounding.

Granted, I don’t know why that is, since it’s usually a recording of a human. The only parts that sound weird are when it has to insert information, like, say your phone number. But there’s no reason to do that for a robo call.

The “robo” conversations that most resemble that (especially about the auto-fill-in-the-blank parts) are the sessions one has with your bank or credit card company, or similar, where you listen to a read-out of your account status or recent transactions or whatever.

To be sure, those are initiated by the customer and for the customer. We “expect” them to sound like that, so it’s okay, but it’s still kinda creepy, a little bit.

The most annoying ones (and I know it’s not just me, from the volume of message-board kvetching one sees, even here on SDMB) are the voice-recognition menus, where you have to speak the right magic keywords (but first you often have to guess what the right magic words are) and it tries to recognize what you say. I’ll put up with listening to robo-speakers if I’m the one initiating the call, but I draw the line at voice-recognition.

Many of them have a push-button alternative option, although sometimes it’s not obvious and you have to fool around to discover it. It think AT&T, for example, will switch from voice-recognition to push-buttons if you say enough things it can’t understand or try pushing buttons instead.

Moving over to MPSIMS like you wanted.

I’d image that it starts with an extensive white list, and then reported numbers for a black list. Phone numbers published in the phone book would be more likely to go through. Phone numbers of companies known to comply with Do Not Call requests would go through.

Phone numbers from “800 Service” would tend to be blocked, as would various dubious VOIP services, whose users are frequently reported.

Just a note, I decided to give the nomorobo service a try, neither of my carriers, Windstream for the landline nor Tracfone for my wireless is eligible. They need to offer ‘Simultaneous Ringing’ and apparently neither of my carriers do. They nomorobo site gives me customer service numbers to call requesting that they add that service and advise "The more people that call them, the better. " The nomorobo service will also email me when/if it becomes available.

Maybe we should robocall them :slight_smile: