do not call Over the weekend the phone rang. I donít get many calls, so I was wondering who might be calling. Imagine the annoyance of being greeted by someone I don't know representing some charity I've never heard of who is asking for money to resolve some crisis I don't know anything about.

Roughly 45 seconds into the exchange (and by "exchange" I mean "monologue" since the other person hadn't yet shut up since I said "hello"), I rudely interrupted her script by saying "excuse me!" more and more loudly until she stopped.

Then, not sure what to do, this emerged:

Me: I'm sorry, but I don't take calls from people I don't know.

Her: ... slience ...

Me: ... silence ...

Her: Really?

Me: Really.

Her: Oh. Okay. Sorry.


I don't know how that line popped into my mind, but I think I'm going to use it from now on. I wish there weren't so many lame exceptions to the do not call registry.

Posted by jzawodn at March 12, 2007 05:56 PM

Reader Comments
# Louis Gray said:

Voice spam can be as bad as e-mail spam or junk mail if not controlled. I have a self-imposed policy to get telemarketers off the phone in sixty seconds or less, period. If I didn't succeed, it's my fault.

I mentioned this back in November in a similar post to yours:

Gone In Sixty Seconds: Taking On Telemarketers

on March 12, 2007 06:33 PM
# Andy Chilton said:

That's really funny. Good for you.

I might start using it in other parts of life:

- I'm sorry, I don't take junk mail from people I don't know

- I'm sorry, I don't take leaflets from people I don't know

The one I'd really love to do is:

- I'm sorry, I don't take spam from people I don't know

But I might still accept money and beer from people I don't know :-)

on March 12, 2007 06:33 PM
# Scott Clark said:

Tonight we rec'd a call from another "survey bait and switch." I asked them what methodology they were using for their research, what the sample size was, and where the results would be published. They hung up. Ha!

on March 12, 2007 06:36 PM
# Michael Moncur said:

I used to try to think of clever ways to explain just how wrong it was for them to call me, but now I just hang up the moment I recognize that it's a telemarketer, without saying a word.

If you ask me, 60 seconds is about 55 seconds too long...

on March 12, 2007 06:41 PM
# Joe Zawodny said:

Ha! The do not call lists only prevent people from trying to sell you something. The exceptions are for people trying to get you to give them money for nothing. Problem is that "the chicks ain't free" (Dire Straits - whatever happened to real music anyway?). Great line. I'll have to try that one next time.

on March 12, 2007 07:34 PM
# billg said:

I've made a point of asking those callers that slip by the Do-Not-Call rules to put me on their "Don't Call" list. I've no idea if they actually do that, but it effectively ends the conversation. (So does hanging up, but many will simply call back.)

When I get a spam call from an outfit I do business with -- like a bank -- I tell them that if they call me again I'll ask for the "Account Cancellation" department. Perhaps it's my imagination, but I get very few spam calls these days.

on March 12, 2007 07:51 PM
# Jeremy Zawodny said:

I also get very few. That's why this one was memorable. It was probably the first of the year so far.

on March 12, 2007 07:55 PM
# Rocky Agrawal said:

Sign up for free AIM Phoneline and give that number out exclusively to banks, credit card companies and others who might theoretically someday possibly need your number, but in all likelihood will only call you to annoy you.

Any calls get routed to voicemail. If they leave a message (which they would only do if they're doing something other than selling you something), you get it as an MP3 file.

What's amusing is that you can also see how many times they called. One bank called me 3-4 times a day for almost a month before the auto-dialer gave up.

on March 12, 2007 08:24 PM
# John Engler said:


I usually, just say "can you wait a minute?" and then I set the phone down and wait until they hang up. It's nice to know that I can waste 5 minutes of their time and save some other poor soul from getting that same phone call tonight.

on March 12, 2007 08:40 PM
# Dave said:

I have a little bit of sympathy for people who do this for a living (better than digging for food in the trash bin outside/begging for it--still a crummy job though), but what I don't have sympathy for is the companies who actually hire people to do this.

Any company that resorts to cold calling people should really innovate.

on March 12, 2007 10:35 PM
# Mike Macgirvin said:

I give them 10 seconds to get to the point - who they are and what their purpose is. If they haven't by that time struck a remembrance that I should have a reason to deal with this person, they get a curt 'no thank you'. But it rarely stops there. Then they usually come back with their defensive line - and the really bad ones will actually go on the offense. You know, ask a question to force engagement. I don't have time to play their silly little game. After I've said no thank you once, I have no qualms interrupting them in mid-sentence. Doesn't matter what they are saying at this point because it's over.

No thank you! (Second time). Click. It ends here. They've wasted 12 seconds of my life, but not a second more.

I gave up being polite to them years ago. They are not polite to me. I don't owe them anything.

on March 13, 2007 12:05 AM
# Aaron Forgue said:

An interesting technique indeed! I've actually used a system that is a little less intrusive: Unless I recognize the number from the caller-id, I don't answer.

This is my position: If the call is important enough, the caller will leave a voice mail. After listening to the voice mail I can take action.

This makes for a great filter and greatly reduces the minutes I spend (literally) on the phone!

on March 13, 2007 05:21 AM
# Rick Walter said:

You should have considered adding a link to the Do No Call Registry for those poor souls that didn't know it existed. Heh.

on March 13, 2007 05:29 AM
# billg said:

The thing about something like AIM Phoneline is that you still need to at least open those MP3's to determine it really is spam.

Granted, calls repeated over and over in a regular pattern were probably dialed automatically. But, a call at 10:30 in the morning every day for a week could be a bank calling to ask if you really used your credit card to buy 3 plasma TV's in Lagos.

on March 13, 2007 07:06 AM
# Rocky Agrawal said:

With AIM phoneline there's no MP3 if there's no voicemail. Usually the autodialers hang up before voicemail kicks in. There is an email that shows that you has a missed call, but these are different from the voicemail messages.

Every once in a while, I get a wrong number from a human who leaves a message (or there's enough background noise for a message). But that's rare.

If your bank was really calling you to ask if you really used your credit card to buy 3 plasma TV's in Lagos, they'd leave a voicemail.

on March 13, 2007 07:56 AM
# Henrik said:

my solution is really really simple...... I dont have a phone

on March 13, 2007 10:42 AM
# Tyron said:

Let's not forget that there is such a thing as VoIP spam and while there are few examples of it now, companies based in India, China, Russia, or other countries do not have to abide by US calling rules.

They can, and will eventually, be bombarding you with phone messages with spoofed phone numbers, spoofed caller ID names, and pilfered information.

It's just a matter of time before the logistics are there for this to become pervasive.

What's the solution? Outlaw any and all marketing.

That will end junkmail, spam, popups, you name it. Otherwise...we should just get used to it.

As for me, I verbally attack marketers when they call. Last time, I had friends that work at every TV station newsroom in this town call the local company and ask why they are violating the "do not call" lists.

I then reported his franchise to the feds, the state, and his parent company as well as I got the friends to call the parent company as well.

Ha! That'll learn 'em....

on March 13, 2007 08:44 PM
# Nchantim said:

My method seems to work ok. If I accidentally answer one of these calls, then I just put down the receiver and walk away. After a minute or two of monologue they eventually realize I'm not listening and then hang up. I see it as a community service, as I've prevented someone else by being bombarded with voice spam for that minute or two.

on March 14, 2007 09:02 AM
# Hatem said:

Jeremy check this, it's about 400kb not about charity but about adoption :


on March 14, 2007 10:39 AM
# Chis said:

lol, another nice one to try is to say "hang on a moment my wife deals with the (phone line/bills etc), I'll just get her for you"... then put your phone on loud speaker and see how long they hold for before hanging up. Rack there phone bill up and waste there time.

Childish - I know, but it always makes me laugh :)

on March 15, 2007 04:51 AM
# said:

I will post later this evening about how the "do not call registry" is a farce and doesn't work. Know any good lawyers, instead?

on March 15, 2007 06:31 PM
# jazzman916 said:

GrandCeneral the "free number for life", has many cool options for handling phone spammers. My favorite is tho send them to the "This number is no longer is service. Please hang up and ry your call again."

on March 21, 2007 09:04 PM
# CJ said:

Hi, I wanted to know if you had any clue what happened to the AIM free phoneline you mentioned in an article on your page. I wanted to sign up, but now it appears it is a PAY ONLY service. Any other free phoneline services? Thx!

on February 27, 2008 02:53 PM
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