Give Robocallers A Silent Ringtone And A Funny Name

You know those car warranty robocallers calling your cellphone? Of course you do, you hate them. This how reader Eyebrow McGee deals with them, and gets to have a little laugh at the same time:

Save the number (I save it as “Z Douche” so it sorts to the bottom of my contacts list and makes me laugh) and assign it a silent ringtone. Similar calls from other numbers can be assigned as Z Douche’s second cell phone or landline or whatever. Typically they call from a handful of numbers repeatedly.

It doesn’t solve the problem, but it makes it much less annoying and doesn’t burn your minutes.

PREVIOUSLY: Who The Hell Are These People Calling My Cellphone About A Car Warranty?

Comments

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  1. Nick1693 says:

    I must say, I never thought about assigning them a name at all, but the silent ringtone is always a good idea, even if the call is from a relative you wish to avoid talking to. =)

    • LatherRinseRepeat says:

      @Nick1693:

      I don’t think this is 100% effective. Often times, these spammers spoof their caller ID and use a different number every time. Or sometimes they just block their caller ID completely.

  2. LastAndLeast says:

    What if they’re calling me to tell me about the terrible secret of space though!?

  3. Applekid ┬──┬ ノ( ゜-゜ノ) says:

    “Pushing is the answer”?

    Who knew Consumerist was infiltrated by SA Goons?

    I sure could use some protecting from the terrible secret of space.

  4. Benny Gesserit says:

    Very clever – now if only there were a way to forward the calls to other ‘bots so they’d happily offer each other warranties, travel offers and other bargains.

  5. Trae says:

    This is what I figured out quite some time ago. :P

  6. Anonymous says:

    That’s one solution. Most of my phones have a “blocked” or “reject” lists. Those numbers don’t even ring silently, they immediately goes to voicemail. What I’d really like is the option to have numbers not in my address book automatically sent to voicemail without ringing.

  7. tracilyns says:

    i call mine “satan,” which is quite amusing when they call. oh look! satan’s calling again.

    if you use grand central/google voice you can also just send them straight to hell, i mean voicemail, or have them hear a “this number is no longer in service” message when they dial your number. (that’s the absolute best feature of google voice, imo.)

    • Benny Gesserit says:

      @tracilyns: Yes but how will I know when it’s really Sat… I mean, yeah, good idea!

    • CFinWV says:

      @tracilyns: I’ve already got a listing for Satan, he’s a college buddy who we’ve called by that name for years. I’ll have to make mine Judas, I’ll have the two in my contacts list. Groovy.

    • Eyebrows McGee (now with double the baby!) says:

      @tracilyns: When Z Douche’s contacts get full, I am SO naming my next one Satan. :D

      • econobiker says:

        @Eyebrows McGee (on Twitter: LPetelle): Or name it ZZ Douche and then ZZZ Douche. I have contacts from a Church group who I have listed under Z Lastname,Firstname so I can duck the call if I am busy. I also have contacts related to my ex-wifes family which I list under Q Lastname, Firstname so I can see who is calling in case that person might be watching my children and I need to talk to the little tikes.

        My high importance people get a 0 zero in front to put their contacts at the top of the list…

    • econobiker says:

      @tracilyns: BTW anyone know if GrandCentral/GoogleVoice open for new folks yet?

  8. Dafrety says:

    My home phone tries to say the name of whoever is calling (Tries as in Michelle Davis become Maugh Elle Dabus). If I ever start getting calls like this on it this should be fun to try.

  9. RecordStoreToughGuy_RidesTheWarpOfSpaceIntoTheWombOfNight says:

    But if you assign a silent ringtone to the robocalls THEN WHO WAS PHONE?

  10. Cocoa Vanilla says:

    I don’t like this idea. I just find it much more entertaining to take a few minutes and waste their time. Plus, the time they’re wasting with you can’t be used to sell to someone else who might actually be interested.

  11. Yoko Broke Up The Beatles says:

    But wait, kids, there’s more! This handy trick can also be used for co-workers and ex-girlfriends (or ex-boyfriends).

  12. outoftheblew says:

    Multiple posts each day have multiple spelling and grammar errors. If I were commenting about one error in one post, I’d feel silly and wait for the replies about how petty I’m being. But it’s starting to make the site look very unprofessional.

    /a spelling and grammar nut

  13. SoCalGNX says:

    Cocoa Vanilla
    7:11 PM
    I don’t like this idea. I just find it much more entertaining to take a few minutes and waste their time. Plus, the time they’re wasting with you can’t be used to sell to someone else who might actually be interested.

    Who would actually be interested in dealing with a company that scams people? If they can’t give out their real phone number or company name, why would you want to do business with them?

  14. albear says:

    I just press the number to speak to them, and when they come out I scream at the top of my lungs “F*%k YOU” and hang up.

    I hat them because my telephone number supposedly has been on the do not call list for years and these assholes still call to bug me.

    • BustangBetty says:

      @albear: You have to register each year to be placed on the DNC registry. If they are in violation you have the right to file a complaint. Take those offenders down a notch or two!

    • ThatIdiotJeffrey_GitEmSteveDave says:

      @albear: I start by asking them when GM issued a 25 year warranty on their cars, as my Olds is an 85. They then have to admit that they aren’t with GM or anyone else. They still try, saying they can work with me. When they ask how many miles my car has, I say I’m not sure, as I only have 5 dials on my odometer, so it might be 90,000 or 190,000 or 290,000. That usually shuts them up. The last one actually told me she was adding me to their do not call list w/o me asking.

  15. Caprica Six says:

    Wait! Then I won’t know when my warranty for my non existent car will expire!

  16. stevgex says:

    I get these calls from about 6-10 diffrent numbers. I add all the numbers to one contact I call Crap. Because I also specified that these were mobile numbers, It shows on my screen as Crap Mobile calling.

    • BustangBetty says:

      @stevgex: My husband has essentially done the same thing except the call comes in as “idiot mobile” calling. Some wanker dialed the wrong number way back in the day and must find it amusing to continually call at all hours of the day and night talking in a language we don’t understand. The other night he called and woke me up, well he got a lovely whistle blown in his damn ear. I hope he can’t hear for days! =)

  17. Anonymous says:

    I have a phone book entry in my Crackberry that has “Screened” for the name and “Telemarketer as the Business name. Once you set up the initial phone book entry addition additional numbers is a snap. Then of course in your call log list it shows “screened” and you know that you never had to even be bothered.

    This latest round of annoying phone calls they have not called from the same number twice. Thats what makes it mega annoying. Although again the phone book is your friend. If you have “all” of your contacts with all the numbers they might call from in your phone if you don’t get a contact that pops up you know its likely a telemarketer and you can let them ring to voicemail.

    Its a shame they have called me in the middle of meetings. I have been tempted to answer by screaming at the top of my lungs into the phone to blow the headset right off the minimum wage idiot that thinks its ok to call an annoy people for a few bucks. Get a real job!

  18. Borax-Johnson says:

    So, let’s say you could forward the call. Who’s on the hook for teh charges if you forward it to a 900 number?

    • West Coast Secessionist says:

      @Borax-Johnson: You are. Forwarding works just like you magically cloned your phone, made an outbound call, answered the inbound one, and held the handsets up next to each other.

      All wireless carriers I am familiar with, charge you for twice the number of minutes while forwarding a call, for this reason.

  19. larrymac thinks testing should have occurred says:

    I have let several robo-calls posts go by and not related this little story; I’m not particularly proud of what I did, but we all reach our breaking point…

    The calls were showing on my Caller ID as “SVCS” with a 310 area code. I mostly ignored them, but they weren’t leaving anything on the answering machine and they weren’t stopping. I tried “answering” by pressing the connect button on my cordless phone, and just leaving the phone sitting on the table, but that did not make them stop either. A little searching revealed many complaints about the number, and that they were shilling satellite TV. One evening they called when I was up to my ass in alligators trying to install a new washing machine, but I answered and said “hello.” There was a recorded message telling me to press 1 if I wanted satellite TV, so I did. Soon I was connected to some guy. He wanted to know if I was interested in Sat TV. “Sure!” I said. There were a couple more questions and then he asked who my current cable TV provider was. I hesitated and he started listing companies “Comcast? Time-Warner? Cox?”

    “OoOOoooOh!” I said. “Cox! That’s exciting. What are you wearing?”

    He called me a name and disconnected. I haven’t seen “SVCS” on my caller ID since.

  20. bones11 says:

    But I thought Consumerist had a post on here a few days ago about people who don’t use all their minutes?? I know I have about 3K rollover minutes that are set to expire at the end of this year and they’re only going to keep adding up.

  21. Logical Extremes says:

    I put it on speaker (muted), let the message play out, hit ‘1’ to connect to a human and then let them talk to silence. Tying up their line for as long as possible with almost no effort seems like a reasonable trade-off.

  22. Necoras says:

    Youmail.com is a free service whos primary function is voicemail, but you can set it to redirect calls from certain numbers. They call it “ditchmail.” You can either block them, or put a special message in there such as the 3 tones plus “this number is disconnected.”

  23. gamabunta says:

    “It doesn’t solve the problem, but it makes it much less annoying and doesn’t burn your minutes.”

    Wrong, at least with AT&T. Any incoming call over 30 seconds that you don’t answer will take a minute off your anytime plan. It’s in your terms and conditions.

    • Ratty says:

      @gamabunta: You can call AT&T and have them send it to voicemail after 20 or 25 seconds. Problem solved. I suggested this a lot for people who got these calls and it eliminated the issue.

  24. RedSonSuperDave says:

    I just use an airhorn. Those warranty assholes haven’t called back since.

    Also, the CEO of the largest robocalling company in America lives approximately six blocks from my house. Consumerist’s terms of use forbid me from sharing his name, address, or phone number, but they don’t forbid me from telling anyone interested to get in touch with me via the forums.

    I’m sure he’d like to hear your feelings about robocallers at any time of the day or night, especially at about 3 AM.

    • econobiker says:

      @RedSonSuperDave: Sweet! Shades of Tom Mabe at the Telemarketer Convention…

      Go to his website and buy:
      Tom Mabe
      A Wake Up Call for Telemarketers
      Tom Mabe Crashed a telemarketing convention in D.C.! He phones the telemarketers in their rooms starting at 3:00 AM trying to SELL THEM STUFF

  25. themonkrat says:

    Palm phones let you set one ringtone for known callers and another for unknown callers. =)

  26. Chumas says:

    I just respond to the robocall and tell them that they’ve reached a local law office of “Blah and Blah”
    “I’d like to get their physical address and the name of the company so I can sue them in small claims court for $5000. “
    Not one of them has called back.

  27. Plates says:

    It is fun to answer these and put on a bit of an improv radio play. If you have some good sound effects you can pretend you are driving and being chased by the police. This way you can have a bit of fun while you waste their time.

  28. regenerator says:

    I did this a few years ago with one annoying collection agency that swore I was “Jennifer,” except I named the entry “Do Not Answer.” Same thing.

  29. jchabotte says:

    I assign my bill collector numbers with the “game over” music from Super Mario Bros.

  30. trixare4kids says:

    Ha! For a long time I had “zzzz F#ucktard” in my phone book for a telemarketer that wouldn’t take me off their list no matter how many times I tried asking/telling.

    Now I’ve been using the free services at trapcall.com
    You can put a number on the blacklist. It still rings to your phone but when you hit “ignore” they get a “we’re sorry, this phone number has been disconnected and is no longer in service” message.

    It rules.

  31. Lucky225 says:

    TrapCall.com ftw

  32. dwinn says:

    Shoving is the answer.

  33. nybiker says:

    For the person who was asking about what happens if you forward your phone number to a 900 number (or for that matter any other number), you will pay for the call as if you made it yourself from the phone. At the least you’ll pay for it in minutes (airtime) and you might get stuck for the charges from the 900 company as well. I would recommend checking with your carrier to confirm the forwarding rules.

  34. catastrophegirl chooses not to fly says:

    i haven’t had one of those super special extended car warranty robocalls yet, but my mail order pharmacy robocalls me to tell me they have my order, then to tell me my order is in process, and then when my order is scheduled to be shipped and again when my order has been shipped.

    and each robocall takes about 3 minutes because it starts of with:
    ‘this call is for the catastrophegirl household. is this the catastrophegirl household. please answer yes or no’

    and then i say yes

    and the robovoice says: ‘i’m sorry, i couldn’t understand you. is this the catastrophegirl household? please answer yes or no’

    this usually goes on for two or three tries.
    [please note i am a phone CSR for a pharmaceutical company, i do not have a speech impairment of any kind and was hired in part for my clear speaking voice. the robo-ear is defective]

    then the robocall tells me that my order has been received and is in process in the pharmacy.
    so i saved all of the incoming robocall numbers from the pharmacy and i don’t answer them. then, since i already looked up the order status on the pharmacy website without wasting any minutes, i just delete the voicemail without listening. saves me a lot of minutes.

    as a side note to that: all my doctors and the pharmacy numbers come in to the ringtone ‘if i had a million dollars’
    [i used to have ‘don’t fear the reaper’ for the doctors but it wasn’t available again when i got a new phone… *sigh*]

  35. Brazell says:

    They use too many numbers. I get calls from the warranty, health insurance, satelite TV, and others.. they all have 5 – 8 numbers.

  36. Brazell says:

    @larrymac .. You’re lucky if that worked for you. I’ve tried everything to get off the lists, being nice, trying to speak to someone, hitting “2” to remove myself, EVERYTHING, I;ve tried being mean or cruel, saracstic, etc. They have never stopped and I get 7 – 10 a week. I’ve contacted the FCC, the MA Attorney General’s office, but nothing.

    The only alternative I have is to change my phone number, which I don’t want to do.

  37. dohspc says:

    This is the second call that your auto warranty is about to expire. lol one time I stayed on and asked if they could extend the warranty on my Ford Pinto. The nice lady said sorry they can’t. too bad

  38. coloradogray says:

    Also check your phone. A lot of phones (especially Samsung) have the ability to send calls from certain numbers directly to your voicemail. If your going to punt them, why bother with the phone even ringing?

  39. Rey Trejo says:

    Like I’ve said before just become very hostile and bigoted then the calls will stop.

    If you yourself can’t say those things then just find an Eric Cartman soundboard and have him do the work for you.

  40. edrebber says:

    Just answer the phone and report the date and time of your last bowel movement.

  41. Allen Harkleroad says:

    If there is dead silence when you answer these kinds of called it is a predictive dialr and is a violation of the TCPA (Telephone Consumer Protection Act), report these calls, the TCPA folks don’t play around. It is illegal to call a cell phone using dialers.

    [esupport.fcc.gov]

  42. Chris Erickson says:

    Before I moved out of the country, I got like one of these a day.

    The problem is, they spoofed a different number just about every time they called.

    • econobiker says:

      @Chris Erickson: There are alot of websites where the spoofed numbers can be entered and the activity described. If you cross reference the number in Google usually someone else has complained about the nimrods…

      800notes.com
      whocallsme.com
      whocalled.us
      etc

  43. VotaIdiota says:

    Most cell phones nowadays also have an option to have numbers added to a “Block” list, where the call doesn’t even show up on the phone, nor does it go to your voicemail. I’ve got about 5 random numbers currently on my list, and I get to go through my day never worrying about accidentally answering one of those stupid calls.

  44. hypochondriac says:

    @ Chris Erickson

    That’s what happens to me. Same robot but from a different number everytime

  45. David in Brasil says:

    I live in Brasil, but have a US phone number via a Vonage VOIP phone. I occasionally get these calls, and more than once have let them go through the entire sales spiel, only to hear the stony silence on the other end of the line when they ask me for my address. “Sao Paulo?” “Where’s that?”

    Or when I give them the make of my wife’s car, which is not even sold in the U.S. “A Citroen what?”

  46. lintacious says:

    I absolutely do this but I always name them “Bug”.

  47. techknight says:

    If you have a jailbreak’d iPhone, you can install the trial version of iBlacklist through Cydia. You can have unwanted calls go straight to voicemail or ignored completely, without ever making your phone ring/vibrate. More info here: [www.iblacklist.com.br]

  48. lilmissychloe says:

    I started getting these calls as soon as I had my car transferred to my name. Since I didn’t get a loan, I’m completely convinced the BMV sold my name…of course I have no way of proving that (they’re the only ones who had my new number, other than friends and family).

    I hung on the line the one time and hit the button for the opt-out option and the calls have stopped, so it might be worth a try for others. Or, register on the Do Not Call list. It won’t be activated for 30 days, but at least there will be an end in sight!

  49. donnie5 says:

    Does eyebrows get paid a freelance fee for this?

  50. Anonymous says:

    That is a great idea. I take it a step further thouth. I use youmail.com for my cell phone’s voicemail and it has the option to do things like play a “number disconnected” message to numbers that you assign and you can also set it up to not allow people who block their caller ID info from leaving messages.

  51. Rebecca Brown says:

    I shouted “I DON’T HAVE A CAR” into the phone and hung up the fourth time I got one. I’d tried to get out of the thing before, but they kept calling. I knew it was a robot, but it made me feel better.

    Calls stopped mysteriously.

    Maybe they’re not robots. *suspicious glance*

  52. jake7294 says:

    I rarely give my real number to anyone. I have a standard fake number I give to companies (like Elaine in Seinfeld). Why do they need to call me? I can give them my email with no problem, plus they have my home addy, so why the phone number. Write a letter or email me instead.

  53. HogwartsAlum says:

    No cell phone, but I get them on my regular phone. I just don’t answer anymore. Since I answer the phone at work, half the time I don’t bother to pick up at home because I don’t feel like it.

    My answering machine is set to pick up after four rings, so I’ll wait and if it cuts off after two or three, I figure it was just a robot anyway.

  54. larkknot says:

    I assign numbers I do not want to answer (like my phone-stalker ex) to the entry “No” in my contact list. It’s shorter than anyone’s actual name so I can tell from a short glance that it’s someone I don’t want to talk to.

  55. kityglitr says:

    It’s not my cellphone I’m worried about. I work at a hotel and we get 20 plus robocalls a day. If you ask for the name of the company, they simply hang up on you! There’s no way to report these creeps, and they take way too much time out of my day. Suggestions?

  56. Madge Gristle says:

    I only really have a cell, and if it’s a number I don’t recognize or know, it can go to my voicemail. If it’s that important they’ll leave a message.

  57. ILoveVermont says:

    How about forwarding the calls to some 800 number? Like Comcastic’s? Does that cost u minutes?

  58. kexline says:

    If I don’t have anything better to do, I will *always* waste these jerks’ time. I can’t get enough info for the FCC and Verizon doesn’t care, so it’s the only way to harm the scammers. The only reason scams and spams work is that the costs are close to zero, and with some gumption and old-fashioned spite, we can fix it. We can make their costs … nonzero. Yes!

  59. darkryd says:

    doesn’t burn your minutes – until you check your voicemail.

  60. CapitalC says:

    Most of the unsolicited calls I get are from “Unknown” or “Blocked”. Boourns.

  61. coold8 says:

    Well, I got a call today on my skype phone.

    Man did I have a good time, I had them on the phone for 12 minutes, making them buy I was generally concerned. I even got transferred to a manager to make sure my “2005 Acura TL, w/ about 52,000 miles” on it could be specially approved. Then I said a friend was coming in, and hung up on them. Only to be called back and I said I am busy, and the lady nearly went on a rant when I responded to the wrong fake name I gave her, and how I was just jerking her chain. All this while reading the rip off report about their company and laughing at her.

  62. ltlbbynthn says:

    God I WISH my current phone had the silent ringtone option! I used to do this with my Sanyo phone, but the Samsung doesn’t have this option. That is a serious argument against me ever buying a Samsun in the future.