Hanging up on annoying telemarketers is the easiest way to deal with them, but that just sends their autodiallers onto the next unfortunate victim. Roger Anderson decided that telemarketers deserved a crueller fate, so he programmed an artificially intelligent bot that keeps them on the line for as long as possible. Anderson, who works in the telecom industry and has a better understanding of how telemarketing call-in techniques work than most, first created a call-answering robot that tricked autodiallers into thinking there was an actual person answering the phone. So instead of the machine automatically hanging up after ten seconds, a simple pre-recorded "Hello? Hello?" message would have the call sent to a telemarketer who would waste a few precious moments until they realised there really wasn't anyone there.
But Anderson then wondered just how long his robot could keep a telemarketer on the line for. It turns out, for surprisingly long.
After the initial "Hello? Hello?", Anderson's sophisticated algorithm makes telemarketers think there's an actual person on the line with random affirmations like "yes, uh huh, right". It can even detect when a telemarketer is getting suspicious, triggering a completely inane response that usually convinces them otherwise. It's absolutely brilliant when it works flawlessly.
Anderson started recording the phone calls as his artificially intelligent call screener got especially skilled at its job, and now posts them on his website for all to enjoy. And before you feel bad for the people making these calls, it's important to remember that they're often using spoofed numbers to get around do-not-call lists. Occasionally non-telemarketers do end up getting connected to Anderson's creation, but the results are still entertaining.
Here's the best part: anyone can connect telemarketers calling and harassing them to Anderson's auto-responding robot using the simple instructions he's posted to his site:
- Press "add call"
- Dial my robot at 214-666-4321 While you're dialling, keep chatting into your phone like you're trying to get Mr. Jones ("yeah -- phone for you", "ok, he's coming hang on…", etc)
- Press "Add call" or "Merge call" or "Conference" or whatever will add the robot to the conversation.
- MUTE YOURSELF so your background noise doesn't affect the conversation.
- Listen to the call, and hang up when the telemarketer hangs up.
For the time being the Jolly Roger Telephone Co. unfortunately doesn't even begin to make a dent in the telemarketing problem. But with more and more people using it to stall these unwanted callers, eventually it could pose a real problem to whatever business plan somehow keeps them in business. That, or they will just find another way to annoy us in the middle of dinner.