Funny about Money

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

Cox Wheedled Down; Phone Solicitors Walloped

BlackPhone…for the time being, anyway. Learning that La Maya and La Bethulia, who live less than a block from the Funny Farm, get cable as well as Internet and a land line for the same amount I pay for no cable, I called up Cox and whined until they gave me a nice deal: $30 less a month AND “selective call blocking” AND “anonymous call rejection.” Between you ‘n’ me, I was willing to pay extra for these in hopes foiling at least some of the damned phone solicitors. The best I expected was a wash. So I felt like I came out a winner to get both of those and a cut in the monthly bill.

I get about a half-dozen nuisance calls a day from damned phone solicitors. Don’t answer them — they listen to my interminable voicemail message until their machine hangs up — but still is really an annoying nuisance.

The kind of work I do is abstract, difficult, often very complicated, and it requires me to focus. A jangling phone interrupts my concentration and the aggravation breaks my train of thought. Some of what I do is painfully boring and all I want to do is get THROUGH with it. Any distraction means that much longer it’s going to take to get done with the project.

A half-dozen such distractions is really beyond the pale.

1896_telephoneCox’s call blocking service is limited to 30 numbers. Phone scammers spoof numbers and change them all the time, so you soon run out of space — which is annoying. There is a program — a free one approved by the FCC — called NoMoRobo, but naturally Cox refuses to accept it. Cox claims this is because its system doesn’t support a needed feature called “simultaneous ringing,” which is ridiculous because they provide it for business customers. Probably, like the deservedly defunct Qwest, they sell residential numbers to phone solicitors.

However…as I was chatting with Cox’s exceptionally helpful CSR, she remarked that most phone solicitors, including those that call from 800 numbers and that spoof numbers, use caller ID blocking. One possible solution, she suggested, is to combine “selective call blocking,” which allows you to block up to 30 numbers from specified callers, with “anonymous call rejection,” which blocks calls from phones with caller ID blocking.

So yesterday I signed up for these.

Along about 10:00 this morning, it dawned on me that I hadn’t gotten a nuisance phone call. They usually start around 8 a.m.

From what I see in the various forums habituated by Cox users, selective call blocking and selective call rejection are far from perfect. The perps’ software soon figures out what you’re doing and finds ways to foil you. And with room to block only 30 numbers, they quickly overwhelm this service.

The FCC gave NoMoRobo’s developers an award, and users say it is the most effective way to foil nuisance phone calls. So it’s infuriating that a major telecommunications company like Cox refuses to accommodate it.

Today only one phone solicitor got around the two blocking features. If and when the bastards start getting through again, it looks like the alternative will be to sign up with Ooma, a VoIP system that does provide NoMoRobo. Abigail over at I Pick Up Pennies highly recommends it — last time I talked with her, she said their bill is never over $5 a month. Even Ooma’s business service is only $10 a month, a far cry from Cox’s gouge…and lookit this! They’ll even help promote your business on the freaking Internet!

Anyway, I got one call all day long, from the outfit that calls once a day claiming to represent a breast cancer charity and talks over my voicemail message to ask, “Is the lady of the house there?” They’re now the first number in the selective call blocker. Not a one of the others have managed to get through!

So I guess I’ll give Cox one more chance. If this complicated, nuisancey scheme doesn’t work, then it’s good-bye Cox, hello Ooma.


Totally retro black phone (can you believe I used to have a phone like this?): By Kornelia und Hartmut Häfele, CC BY-SA 3.0,
1896 phone: By 1906 Kungliga Telegrafverkets apparater (Royal Telegraph Administration apparatus) at Project Runeberg. Public domain.



Author: funny

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  1. Congrats on the better deal!
    I haven’t had a landline for a 1 1/2 years, so have not had any “charity” calls lately, but I can’t imagine getting up to 6 calls a day. Is that kind of solicitation worse in Arizona?
    I got a call from some “charity” a few months after mom died and I was NOT in the mood for it. I always knew what charity it was because a man would always address me in a warm, familiar tone of voice, “Is this Miss Catseye?” It’s considered quite courtly and respectful to address females like this in the south. Well, I was having none of it. In a harsh, hysterical tone, I yelled at him, “WHO IS THIS!?!?!” He hung up and never bothered me again. ;o)

    • Good work, getting rid of the fruitcake. I’ve found yelling at them and cursing at them doesn’t do any good. Neither does telling them to take you off their phone list. They’re just sitting there as tools of a robocalling machine and so have no control over what numbers are called.

      I’m sure phone soliciting here is not helped by the free-market, shear-the-sheep lunacy of our leadership. Nor by the fact that such a large proportion of the population is elderly: telemarketers see Arizona as Retiree City. There are SO many crooks out there trying to prey on old folks, and they often succeed. Telemarketing can be a very lucrative scam that way.

      Nor do you have any luck asking that people who demand your phone number not share it with telemarketers. I now have a made-up number that I give out when someone insists on a phone number. In fact, it’s even printed on my checks.

      Today, for example, I joined a couple of professional organizations, Authors Guild plus a national indexers trade group. When you go to sign up, you reach a line where you have to fill in a phone number if you want to proceed to paying them. I gave them the fake phone number.

  2. LOL! I will have to remember to give out fake phone numbers from now on. In fact, I may use my old landline number for that purpose. Thanks for the tip.