So, we have lots of numbers that are available to call and not assigned. Last time I checked it was just over 4 million numbers. This is because we have numbers in every area code, and we bought a company that had lots of numbers.
I have set these so that calls from unknown calling numbers get a nice message to bog them down. Technically I have assigned them to myself as the subscriber, temporarily, so that I can answer the calls.
I am first playing a message that explains this, then sending a DTMF "5", and a "1" for good measure to get their system to connect to an operator. It does not string them along for very long, but enough to waste their time. Bear in mind these junk calls are completely illegal - not because of TPS, but because they are automated and start with a pre-recorded announcement without prior-agreement.
An example MP3
This may seem like a bit of fun, and in some ways it is, but actually it does have more serious side.
Firstly, it is a good test of the new VoIP platform. It allowed me to find a number of interesting quirks that needed tidying up, and hence improve the system. It allows me to test a lot of calls of varying durations. Even little things like the fact we were getting a few seconds of silence at the end of every call, which I have now fixed.
Secondly, it was very interesting in terms of psychology of callers. We have had hundreds of calls that we have captured, and apart from the junk callers which have a pretty predictable reaction, we have had a lot of wrong numbers as well.
My message starts "hello..." and a nice pause, and that makes people think they have got a person, so they say something or ask for someone. Fair enough.
Then I state very clearly that they have called the wrong number, and that we are winding up junk callers. It's a recorded message, obviously.
For a start, pretty much everyone listens to the end of the sentence, even after it is very clear they have it wrong, and could hang up straight away. Maybe they are just being polite. Many hang up at that point.
Then you get people that try talking to me again, asking for a specific person, etc. They clearly have completely ignored every word I actually said and just waited for me to stop speaking. Very odd.
You also get people who hear me rattle on, and then the beep (DTMF 5) and then proceed as if it was an answering machine message - for the person they thought they were calling. They go on to leave a message. Again, totally ignoring what I actually said.
There are the odd few that say "fuck off" as well, of course.
P.S. Why not sign my ePetition to make it easier to get compensation from junk callers.