How to deal with countless telemarketers calling a small business?
April 2, 2014 4:16 PM   Subscribe

How do I deal with the endless calls from telemarketers calling my business?

My family business has had the same phone number for 30+ years. We're a service-based business so every phone call is an existing or potential customer. I man the phones from my home and the number of telemarketers calling our business is in the range of 30-40 a day. Most are of the robot-on-the-other-end variety so "take me off your list" isn't an option and, even if I trusted it would work, this would be really, really time-consuming. The Do-Not-Call list does not permit businesses.

I used to manage this by routing all calls to my cellphone where I stored telemarketer numbers with a silent ringtone and, later, with iOS' block caller option. Spotty cell service has removed this option so I'm working off a home line now. I store the callers as before but all it saves me is picking up the phone (but still forces me to sit through the annoying ringing).

My phone provider Verizon only allows me to block 10 numbers and Optimum, where the phones are routed from, gives me another 32, but that's far from enough.

So, what to do? Any landline phones that can assign a silent ringtone or block stored callers? (My current phone, a wireless panasonic, has a minuscule block-caller list and it still rings at least once).
posted by unsupervised to Work & Money (8 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
There are various inexpensive phone services targeted at small businesses that you could switch your line to that would let you set up a blacklist of numbers you want to go directly to a special voicemail box, or hang up on, or...

I use Anveo, which could certainly do what you want, but it may be a little too "power user" oriented. I am sure there are simpler offerings that would do the job.
posted by Good Brain at 4:35 PM on April 2, 2014

Google Voice has an almost endless ability to customize how incoming calls are handled. You can trash select calls and forward the rest instantly to your business number so a human would not experience a noticeable delay. You can port your existing number into Google Voice too.

There is also Nomorobo.
posted by rada at 4:39 PM on April 2, 2014 [1 favorite]

I'm not sure if it's something you can really do well for just your line, but something like Ring Central at least as far as I know does not have any particular limits on how many numbers you can block.
posted by Sequence at 4:39 PM on April 2, 2014

Remember the good old days when No Call worked? We are still listed but get the nuisance calls anyway. If you speak to them, tell then to remove your number from their list - for all the good that will do, but at least it is something to do.
We used to play with them: ask them to give us their number so we can call back. That got old very soon. We also tried "give me your number so I can tell the Attorney General". Calling your business is a real breach of protocol - if there is a protocol.
posted by Cranberry at 4:51 PM on April 2, 2014

I have ViaTalk VOIP service and they let you block any number of numbers, partial numbers, or names. Blocks can yield a busy signal, endless ringing, a "disconnected" recording, or route the call to voicemail or some other number. The block can also ask callers to authenticate that they are human and then lets them through if they respond. Pretty snazzy service, unlimited calling included, and costs $16 a month for residential service or $189 a year (and they often run specials for a free year).
posted by kindall at 4:53 PM on April 2, 2014 [1 favorite]

We often deal with this problem at work by not bothering to answer the phone, but our business is such that the people we want to talk to know how to reach us. It sounds like your business involves frequent customer calls, so somebody has to answer the phone, but why does it have to be you? Could you consider hiring an answering service that will act as your receptionist? Some of the particularly brazen telemarketers will try to BS their way through, but it means most of your calls should be screened. Customer calls could be transferred to your office. The service can also make sure that someone is always available to answer the phone and contact you with messages.
posted by zachlipton at 5:34 PM on April 2, 2014

A certain person in my house (who shall remain nameless) cannot grasp the simple concept that when giving donations to charity, not giving your home phone number is not a horrible thing. What this nameless person is unable or unwilling to understand is that these oh-so friendly folks with their sob stories are not your friend....but they do love your wallet and the fact they can push 10 buttons to sell you something you do not want. Oy.

So I chose to get this Caller ID with Ring Controller (phone call blocker) (this one is from jfteck).

It was a bit pricey for what it is, but it works. There are cheaper units out there, but for home based phone lines, you will never get the ability to block multiple phone numbers other than the dozen or so slots the phone company gives you. This box will block up to 70 numbers. Also, by using wild cards, you can block entire area codes or portions of numbers, so the total number is far higher.

During the 2012 election, the phone was ringing up to 30 times a day. Once I got this box, that number went down to less than 5...many times zero. It was from phone hell to heaven. And we never got a complaint from a person we know.

I wish the phone companies would expand their number blocking capacity, but clearly they have are not going to do that. The technology is there, but for whatever reason, they refuse to offer it.

And as far as the Do Not Call Registry....nice idea and totally worthless. These clowns just change their phone number and lie about who they are.
posted by lampshade at 6:26 PM on April 2, 2014

If using the cell phone was working well but for the issue of cell phone reception, consider getting a femtocell. They run a few hundred bucks, but assuming you have reasonable internet speed should completely fix they reception issue. Also, you might be able to get Verizon to lower the cost of one if you tell them your poor reception may induce you to change providers and go with a competitor.
posted by jcworth at 7:50 AM on April 3, 2014

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