Go ahead. Pick up that robocall! | Just Jaggin' | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

In 2018, a record 48 billion robocalls were placed in the U.S., according to YouMail, a company that blocks and tracks robocalls. We all get them, and there isn’t much you can do to stop them — at least in my experience. I’ve blocked the number, only to get a call 30 minutes later from a number that was one digit different. Clever girl. I have spoken to a live person and asked them to take me off the list, but a different masochist from the same company always calls back. I fought with one caller via text for 30 minutes, and she told me that I needed to find Christ. “Will this ‘Christ’ stop the calls?” In one of my less-than-stellar moments, I told the caller to “sniff my butt” just as my son entered the room. 

Their persistence and “strategy” are remarkable and infuriating. Industry experts call one of their devious tactics “spoofing” — which is when the number that appears on your caller ID looks like your number, matching zip code and first three digits. “Oh, look. It’s a number that looks like mine. It’s probably me calling. I should buy whatever I’m trying to sell myself.” 

I hadn’t received these calls in a high frequency since last year. I figured word was out that I was trying to get callers to “sniff my butt.” But a few weeks ago, they re-emerged. And this time they’re calling from Philadelphia! Seeing as how I have no definitive solution for ending these calls, I figured this time around I’d just have fun with them. Here are some of my plans:

• Spend however long it takes to get all the information on their product; the way an interested customer would. Maybe ask them if they could send some “literature” to my fax number. Make five or ten minutes of small talk about politics, as I wait for the “fax to come in.” Go over the faxed materials. Get all the way to the point of transaction and then tell them I don’t want the insurance. “I NEVER REALLY WANTED IT!” Or just play The Price is Right loser trombone and hang up.

• Create a bunch of pre-recorded answers, preferably using the “Male U.S. (Scottish Accent) voice of the app text2speech.org: “Oh. I am so glad you called. I just ran out of insurance and need some more. A lot of it. Sweetheart! Will you grab the checkbook?”


• Telling them: “No, I am not interested, but as a Diamond Certified Beach Body instructor I have something YOU might be interested in.

• Putting one of my kids on the line. They love the phone.

• Simply repeating everything they say to me like a kid who thinks he’s being funny. I’m not naming names.

• Playing Imagine Dragons’ "Thunder" or Fall Out Boy’s "Uma Thurman" into the phone.

• Telling them to sniff my butt. If it ain’t broke …

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