Phone solicitors can become a time suck if you let them. I've simply stopped answering my cellphone unless it's from a number I know or someone already on my contact list.
The unsolicited calls keep coming, however. Once in awhile I'm curious and I pick up, only to realize after the three-second delay or a robot talking that a phone solicitor is at the other end and wants to sell me something. Those calls I immediately banish by blocking them on my phone. (I'll give detailed instructions on how to do that in a bit.)
I'm also on the national Do Not Call Registry, which is like a piece of Swiss cheese with all of the loopholes in it. I've had my number registered with it for seven years and the robocalls keep coming.
I rarely, if ever, talk to a phone solicitor. I usually just hang up on them, which I've learned isn't so much a deterrent as it is an invitation to call me back a day later.
What to do? What are the best ways to prevent phone solicitors from calling you again? From personal experience and some research, here are five of the best ways I've found for getting rid of phone solicitors in your life, though it's always a work in progress:
I'm not a big fan of this, mainly because it takes some time on my end. One big reason I don't want phone solicitors to call me anymore is because it's a waste of my time. As a freelance writer, that equates to time I could spend making money.
Still, getting a telemarketer who calls to hang up on me instead of the other way around can be fun. It just takes a little time and effort.
One thing to do is to take up as much of the caller's time as you can. The more time they spend on the phone with you, the less time they have to hassle someone else.
There are hundreds of ways, including having fun with a fake accent or trying to convince them to buy a product from you.
Have their robot talk to your robot
Here's one way to chew up their time: Ask the telemarketer to hold for a few seconds while you call a robot they can talk to for 10 minutes or however long they want to before they realize it's not a live person and hang up.
The Jolly Roger Telephone Co. has a free phone number you can call and then add the phone solicitor to the call. You can then put your phone down and get back to work while the telemarketer talks to what sounds like a person but is actually a bot. It has pauses and asks the caller to repeat themselves, and stalls for time with stories about a been on their arm or just waking up. Check it out:
Here's how it works from a mobile phone:
- Press "add call" while you have the telemarketer on the line.
- Dial the robot at 214-666-4321. While dialing, keep talking like you're trying to reach the person.
- Press "add call," "merge call," "conference" or something similar to add the robot.
- Mute yourself.
- Listen to the call and hang up when the phone solicitor hangs up.
Give it a try and talk to the robot yourself to see how this free service works. The conference call can also be made from a landline phone.
Do Not Call Registry
In theory, this national registry is supposed to prevent most unsolicited calls. I've had it for years and while I don't know how many calls it has prevented from coming in, I can say that it isn't stopping the phone solicitors who continue calling me on a daily basis.
The government registry is where people can register a phone number, have their registration verified, and then stop receiving unwanted calls within 31 days. If you receive such a call after 31 days, you can file a complaint.
But who really has the time to file a complaint online? It may only take a few minutes, but it's another chore for your day that may not get anywhere for a registry that isn't doing its job in the first place.
Even if your number is registered, some organizations are still allowed to call you and ignore the list. They are charities, political organizations, telephone surveyors and debt collectors. That's a pretty broad list.
If a telemarketer does call you, you can ask them to remove you from their calling list. However, if you don't use the exact words, "Add me to your do not call list," then they may continue calling. I've told plenty of these callers to remove me from the list, and they always hang up on me, leaving me to believe that there's no way they're going to take my name off their call list.
Block phone solicitors
Blocking callers on your phone is pretty easy, though it's something I wasn't able to do on my phone until about a year ago.
In an iPhone, open the Phone app and click on Recents. Click on the call you just got from the phone solicitor, and click Block at the bottom of the screen.
They won't know they're blocked, though they may figure it out when their calls keep going to your voicemail. You also won't see text messages from the sender.
Add a phone number
Keeping your phone number private can be difficult. One way to make it private again is to add a phone number to your phone that you can either give out to business contacts, or keep private and only give out to friends.
I've started using using Sideline, a free app that provides a free second number for your phone. The number runs off your existing carrier, so it works wherever your phone does now.
You pick a free number in your area code and use the app to make outgoing calls. Incoming calls work the same as they used to. Sideline works if you have unlimited calls/texting with your carrier, since you'll have two lines that could be using up more minutes.
One key word of caution: If you don't use the app and your second phone number every 30 days, the extra phone number goes dormant and you can't use it anymore.
Battling phone solicitors takes multiple battlefronts. Using all or most of these tips should save you time in the long run.