What are these mysterious phone.calls?

Several times each day, we get phone calls where there is no answer. The phone rings, we pick up, and nothing.

These are all VOIP calls with a spoofed caller ID. The caller ID will say “Out of area”, “Private Call”, “Toll Free Call”. or a local city like “Scranton NY”.

I figure they’re some solicitation, but why don’t they ever stay on the line? Why call us if you don’t want to talk to me?

The best telemarketer database I’ve found is http://800notes.com/ . See if any of the numbers get a hit there.

I’ve gotten those calls.

I assume they make many, many calls a day.

I assume that if you don’t pick up and actually answer within a certain number of rings, they move on to other numbers. They’re looking for live bodies, not answering machines.

Are you picking up on the first or second ring and still getting no reply?

Fishing schemes looking for live numbers?

I get those calls too. I stopped answering anything that doesn’t show a number, or shows 800 or non local.

It’s the same thing airlines do when overbooking their flights, sort of.

Their auto-dialers overbook their own live monkeys. The auto-dialers call numbers even before there is a live monkey available to talk to you. As soon as a live monkey (you) answers at the other end, the auto-dialer then connects you to the first live monkey at their end, if they have one available right away, and if you haven’t already hung up by then.

Large telemarketing organizations use automated predictive dialing systems to make phone calls. The individual telemarketers do not dial the phones and they do not sit on the phone listening to it ring or listening to busy signals. The time of the telemarketers is valuable to the sponsoring organization, yours is not. They want to have a new live sucker connected to the telemarketer the instant the telemarketer disconnects from the previous sucker.

They have more outgoing lines set up than they have telemarketers. They have statistics about how long the average phone call lasts, what percentage of calls are answered and so on. They attempt to time calls so that you answer at the same time the telemarketer is ready to talk to someone new. As soon as you answer (and they use certain heuristics to make sure you are not an answering machine), your call is switched to the first idle telemarketer.

Doing this exactly is impossible. Some days more people answer the phone than others. Some days people stay on the line with the telemarketer longer than others. The systems can be tweaked. You can set up a more aggressive dialing pattern, but that results in more calls being answered when no telemarketer is available to talk. You can set up a less aggressive calling pattern, but that results in more telemarketers sitting at their work stations waiting for a call. Guess which they prefer?

To summarize, they make a lot more calls than they can answer in order to make sure that no telemarketer is sitting around waiting to talk to someone. If you have the misfortune of answering when no telemarketer is available, you get hung up on and put back in the queue to be called later.

Edit: Just like Senegoid said more succinctly.

But Alley Dweller told a lot more detail about how it all works – with the statistical analysis of call timings and predictive analysis and all that fancy-schmancy stuff they do to optimize the talking-time of their live monkeys.

ETA: And yeah, they don’t give a flying shit about your time.

Here in India, calls come from international numbers and disconnect immediately after a ring or too (we call it a “missed call”) , and if someone calls back, he/she hears answering machine and it takes a few minutes before realizing that it is total waste of time, and then comes surprise of huge international call charges. Looks like those who give the miss call have these numbers registered in places where they get a good commission on incoming calls.

Anyone foolish enough to dial a number they don’t recognize after a missed call deserves to get scammed.

I too get one or two ‘dead’ calls a day on average. I usually leave the phone off the hook to tie up their line for a while. I have no idea if it works, but I do it anyway.