Funny about Money

The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing. ―Edmund Burke

Blocking the Scammers

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Enough! I finally decided to get off my duff and do something about the interminable telemarketing robocalling scammers. They’ve taken now to calling as early as 7 in the morning and as late as 8:30 at night. It’s not unusual to get half a dozen nuisance calls in a day. The National Do-Not-Call list does exactly nothing to discourage them, and Cox, the least obnoxious of the phone companies locally, flat refuses to provide the most effective telemarketing blocker, NoMoRobo — because, we’re told, telecom companies claim their old copper lines aren’t up to the task. (Never mind that most landline users now get our phone service through the cable.)

The strategy I chose is far from the most economical. If you want to keep a household phone system that allows you to have a wireless extension in every room, the cheapest way is to switch from landline to VoIP.

Here in Phoenix, Ooma offers a VoIP service that supports NoMoRobo, apparently for no extra charge. This allows you to cancel Cox’s phone service, leaving you only with the cost of the Internet connection, saving about $30 a month. Without the phone in the “package,” of course, Cox can be relied upon to jack up the cost of the Internet service — they never miss a beat, you can be sure. So your saving would be less than the present cost of the phone system. Ooma is only a few dollars a month — because it’s an Internet connection, not a telephone service, you escape the outrageous taxes and fees, which in our parts cost more than phone connection itself.

I decided not to cancel my landline, antiquated though the technology is, for several reasons:

A landline phone plugged directly into a telephone jack will work even when the electricity is out, and even when Cox’s Internet connection is down. VoIP will not.

Yeah, I know: use your cell phone. Well, I have one clamshell phone that I often forget to recharge…what happens when the power is out, an emergency is in progress, and the damn cell phone (assuming I can find it in the dark) is dead?

After studying the Ooma sites and the Ooma reviews, it looks to me like setting up a VoIP connection with one of their boxes is “simple” only to The Young and The Techie. You can put money on it — a lot of money — that when I try to make the thing work, I will fvck it up. It then will be days before I can lure my son over here to get it to work, and without a doubt I’ll lose the phone number emblazoned all over my business cards and stationery. These are not likelihoods: they’re givens.

I suspect the sound quality falls short of the quality a hard-wired system delivers. Even fans of Ooma — which is said to be one of the better programs — call it “echoey.” Do I really want to be talking with clients on an echoing line?

In theory, the 911 operators can find you if you dial from a land line. Remains to be seen if that’s true. Last time I called 911, I was choking and couldn’t speak. When I couldn’t get any words out, the 911 operator hung up on me. But…the theory is there. Theoretically…

The largest of these considerations is that when I say I’m all learning-curved out, I’m not kidding. I’m so averse to having to take a college course to re-learn the use of a tool I’ve used comfortably for decades, I’m actually willing to pay for the privilege of not having fart around with that.

So I just plunked down a hundred bucks to buy a British-made device called the CPR V5000 Call Blocker. It’s pretty much plug and play, from what I can tell. There are some circumstances in which it may require some jiggering, but apparently they don’t apply to my system.

The thing comes with 5000 known telemarketing phone numbers already blocked. So from the moment you plug it in, you reduce the deluge of calls. Then you just push a button (or #2, from an extension) to block a pest caller when he dials you. Before long, few or none get through.

You can block entire area codes. There are a couple of area codes from which nothing but phone solicitations are sent; block those area codes, and you block every call coming from within that code. Some 1,833 customers have given this gadget an average rating of 4.5 stars. At Amazon, the maker has patiently and fully explained dozens of consumer questions — if you read through them, you get a clue to how to deal with all the issues people ask about — and the company also has live customer service reps who are reportedly competent.

Its nearest competitor, twenty bucks less at Amazon, has racked up just 11 customer reviews, averaging only 4 stars. Since many producers pay people to write reviews, it’s best to discount the 5-star reviews — with so few reviews, doing so would probably drop the average rating. And its sales copy is not written in idiomatic English — they couldn’t even bother to hire a native speaker to pitch their device.

This doodad is supposed to arrive tomorrow. I can’t wait!

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Author: funny

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6 Comments

  1. I remember checking a while ago, and at the time NoMoRobo didn’t support my Charter VOIP phone – just for fun I checked today – and apparently it’s now supported!

    So I signed up and added my number – we’ll see if it cuts down on the random phone calls I get!

  2. OOORRR…..You can look upon the calls in a “positive light”….DW and I look upon these calls as “entertainment”…and it’s free. When the telemarketer calls and ask for one of us, we tell them to hold on while we get the person….promptly set the phone down on speaker and go about our business…letting the caller say “HELLO…ARE YOU THERE…HELLO”…which we yell back hold on they’re coming. OOORRR engage in idle non-sense talk with the telemarketer. Aside from entertainment we are doing a public service keeping that telemarketer from bugging someone else….Our record for keeping a caller on line? ….11+ minutes with no purchase. As for the robo calls…a quick hang up or erasing on the answering machine…

    • Hee heeeee! Great work!

      Did I ever tell you this story?

      Friend of mine, the late J.J. Lambert, was sitting around the house when the phone rang. The call was a solicitation from a carpet company, which at the time was the hot topic for phone solicitors. This was before the era of robo-callers and recorded sales pitches, so a human was on the line.

      “Oh, I’m SO glad you called! I was hoping you’d call!”

      “Uhm…you were???”

      “Yes! We’ve been wanting to buy new carpets.”

      Well, of course the phone solicitor dude was thrilled beyond measure. A conversation ensued, in which they discussed all the various types of carpets and fabrics of carpets and qualities of carpets and joys of carpets and uses of carpets and on and on. J.J. said he wanted to carpet the entire house, and he spent some time describing the rooms and giving the guy their approximate dimensions.

      After a long and satisfying exchange, the solicitor got J.J.’s address (fake, no doubt…) and arranged for an installer to come by and get the house’s exact measurements.

      Just as they were about to hang up, J.J. added, “Oh, one last question!”

      “What is it?” asked the contented phone solicitor.

      “You CAN install these over dirt floors, right?”

      A brief moment of silence ensued. “Do you have dirt floors?”

      “Why, yes. Doesn’t everyone?”

      For some reason, the guy hung up then. Nothing more was heard from those quarters.

  3. OMG! Jestjack, I’ve wanted to do something like that for years, but never could let myself. These days, I get so few solicitation calls on my cell that I don’t have the opportunity. Oh, well, I wouldn’t want to waste my minutes anyway.
    LOL, Funny, I can believe they never called back. Not long after mom died, I got a call from a “charity” that I’d made the mistake of sending a check once or twice until I read negative reviews about the organization. I could tell which charity was calling as soon as I heard a man’s voice because they always spoke in a warm, friendly, familiar manner that really irked me. Our conversation went like this:

    Mr. Smooth: “Hellooooooo, Miss Catseye!”
    Me.: “WHO IS THIS?!?” (paranoid, accusatory)
    Mr. Smooth: “click”

    Problem solved. ;o)

    • LOL! I’ve found that if you speak to them, they just keep on talking over you. And they’re not even machines.

      One of the reasons I donate anonymously ONLY is exactly what you describe. Once they have your name, they won’t let you off the hook…they keep calling back and calling back. And after you’ve donated once, it’s hard to be rude to them. And hard to keep saying “no” over and over.