Would you rather have a root canal or talk to yet another irritating telemarketer? Do you think that Rachel from Cardholder Services should be on the FBI’s 10 Most Wanted List? Has a telemarketer ever caused you to say *#$@! in front of your children?
Auto-dialers, robo-callers and telemarketers are becoming more annoying and aggressive in their efforts to invade your privacy and separate you from your money. In fiscal year 2015, this national problem resulted in more than 175,000 complaints about robo-calls per month to the FTC. Telemarketing is often illegal as well as irritating; a large percentage of telemarketers violate various U.S. laws, including ignoring the national Do Not Call Registry.
Enough, already! I rarely support specific companies in this column, but anyone who can help win the battle against the telemarketing scourge deserves some time in the limelight. The Jolly Roger Telephone Co. (JRTC) is one of the leaders in this ever-expanding fight.
Roger Anderson, JRTC’s CEO, was being bombarded daily by multiple telemarketers. During one call, he handed the telephone to his young son, wondering how much of the telemarketer’s time the boy could waste. When the telemarketer hung up, his son looked very unhappy and complained that the man had called him a name and used a bad word.
Anderson, who happens to be a consultant who works on phone systems, realized that call-blocking services are only partially effective because telemarketers frequently display a false number (including the victim’s number) as the Caller ID. Anderson created a front end to his telephone that required a human caller to perform a simple task that is difficult for auto-dialers. Although this did not eliminate human telemarketers, it significantly reduced the number of calls that rang through to his phone. Unfortunately, when an auto-dialed call is not answered, it is redialed sometime later. Anderson’s personal irritation was reduced, but the larger problem was not solved.
Next, he created JRTC to waste telemarketers’ time. When telemarketers talk without making a sale, two goals are accomplished: The telemarketer is not making money, and other people are not being pestered.
The JRTC allows allow anyone to use a bot that engages a telemarketer in a pleasant but somewhat nonsensical conversation, with the goal of extending the call length. The bot combines serious-sounding questions, distracting observations and repeated requests to start over. One cable company’s telemarketer believed he was making a great sale when the bot agreed to sign up for virtually every service offered. When the call was transferred to account verification to collect credit card information, the bot convinced the supervisor to start over. That call established JRTC’s current record of 22 minutes. Hooray for the good guys! (When using the service, mute your phone after transferring the call to the JRTC bot, or you may burst out laughing and give the game away!)
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