A post by Maynard
Maybe you knew this already; maybe you don’t need it because you’ve gone entirely wireless. But some of us still use land-lines…
Unfortunately, there are legal exemptions, such as pollsters. Other unwanted callers claim to have an existing business relationship with you, or they just ignore the law. Some use false Caller IDs such as 000-000-0000 or 123-456-7890 (and I’ve gotten calls from both of those today).
My phone was quiet until a couple of months ago, when it started ringing off the hook. I don’t know what unleashed the flood. Maybe the political season started it; maybe my number escaped into the wild. Anyway, the nuisance factor got bad enough that I started cursing Mr. Bell.
(I’m wondering, is this just me, or have the rest of you been likewise inundated in the recent era?)
What can you do to shield yourself? In theory, you can report violators. But that’s probably an exercise in impotence and frustration.
A more practical (partial) solution is to find a tool to block calls.
1) You can pay your phone company for the service. But I didn’t want to add to my phone bill.
2) There are a number of call-blocking appliances, such as this device sold by an Amazon vendor (and click on the “Explore similar items” link to see that there are a number of such devices). This model goes in the $70 range; not cheap enough to buy on a whim.
3) Maybe you don’t need a dedicated appliance. Panasonic cordless phones now include a call blocking feature. (If other brands of phones offer this, they don’t trumpet it in their product descriptions.)
It looks like the Panasonic call blocking is the same as a dedicated blocking appliance, except that the Panasonic list of blocked numbers is limited to 30, and the appliances will store hundreds. But if 30 enemy numbers is enough for you, then check out the Panasonic cordless product line. It’s an extensive selection, offering more or fewer extension phones, and varying ranges, not to mention an answering machine option.
If you want blocking and nothing else, the cheapest, most minimal phone I see is this Panasonic model KX-TG6511B, currently listed on Amazon at $34.54 postpaid.
The phone block is easy enough to use. When you receive a call from a bad caller, you just push some buttons to save the number on the list. In the future, when that incoming number is detected, the call will be intercepted by the phone and the caller will receive an error tone, indicating a line not in service. You can always peruse and edit the list of blocked numbers.
You can also set up the phone to block all unidentified incoming calls, although this might be overbroad for most users.
I just got one of these phones, and I appreciate the feeling of being slightly more in control of my home environment. I get that Chris Matthews tingling (or was it a trickle?) down my leg as I watch those unwanted calls get electronically repulsed.
If you’ve got a moment to spare, you might try feeding those mystery phone numbers to a Google search engine. For example, here’s a search on “123-456-7890″. You’ll find some interesting reports, such as this “800Notes” site or the “WhoCallsMe” site.
As an amusing aside, here’s something you shouldn’t try yourself, because this can only be done properly by professionals, and the rest of us would make a pathetic mess of it. But comedians have been known to play games with telemarketers. For example — and be warned before you click to this guy’s page; some of his work is less than tasteful — a man named Jim Florentine has done a number of commercial recordings of his interactions with telemarketers. He posts some short samples on his page, such as (these are links to mp3 files) “No, No”, “Ridiculous”, and “Broken Record”.