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TeleZapper - A Way to Avoid Telemarketers?

Cliff posted more than 12 years ago | from the bun-bun-with-a-switchblade dept.

Privacy 688

VeniDormi asks: "While watching TV on my TiVo, I actually stopped to see an ad for a device called 'The TeleZapper', which claims to foil tele-marketers by convincing their auto-dialers that your number has been disconnected. The FAQ is light on technical details, only mentioning that the device 'emits [a] tone briefly when the line is answered'. I'm hoping Slashdotters with more telecommunications expertise can enlighten me as to: how/if this might work and whether or not it is something I could reproduce with a sound card, say for recording at the beginning of my voicemail message. Could it be as simple as playing back the three shrill tones I hear when I dial a wrong number?" Ah, the telephone equivalent to SPAM. Too bad phones don't have the equivalent of procmail filters.

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C: A Dead Language? (-1)

egg troll (515396) | more than 12 years ago | (#2432221)

Gentlemen, the time has come for a serious discussion on whether or not to continue using C for serious programming projects. As I will explain, I feel that C needs to be retired, much the same way that Fortran, Cobol and Perl have been. Furthermore, allow me to be so bold as to suggest a superior replacement to this outdated language.

To give you a little background on this subject, I was recently asked to develop a client/server project on a Unix platform for a Fortune 500 company. While I've never coded in C before I have coded in VB for fifteen years, and in Java for over ten, I was stunned to see how poorly C fared compared to these two, more low-level languages.

C's biggest difficulty, as we all know, is the fact that it is by far one of the slowest languages in existance, especially when compared to more modern languages such as Java. Although the reasons for this are varied, the main reasons seems to be the way C requires a programmer to laboriously work with chunks of memory.

Requiring a programmer to manipulate blocks of memory is a tedious way to program. This was satisfactory back in the early days of coding, but then again, so were punchcards. By using what are called "pointers" a C programmer is basically requiring the computer to do three sets of work rather than one. The first time requires the computer to duplicate whatever is stored in the memory space "pointed to" by the pointer. The second time requires it to perform the needed operation on this space. Finally the computer must delete the duplicate set and set the values of the original accordingly.

Clearly this is a horrendous use of resources and the chief reason why C is so slow. When one looks at a more modern (and a more serious) programming language like Java or, even better, Visual Basic, that lacks such archaic coding styles, one will also note a serious speed increase over C.

So what does this mean for the programming community? I think clearly that C needs to be abandonded. There are two candidates that would be a suitable replacement for it. Those are Java and Visual Basic.

Having programmed in both for many years, I believe that VB has the edge. Not only is it slightly faster than Java its also much easier to code in. I found C to be confusing, frightening and intimidating with its non-GUI-based coding style. Furthermore, I like to see the source code of the projects I work with. Java's source seems to be under the monopolistic thumb of Sun much the way that GCC is obscured from us by the marketing people at the FSF. Microsoft's "shared source" under which Visual Basic is released definately seems to be the most fair and reasonable of all the licenses in existance, with none of the harsh restrictions of the BSD license. It also lacks the GPLs requirement that anything coded with its tools becomes property of the FSF.

I hope to see a switch to VB very soon. I've already spoken with various luminaries in the *nix coding world and most are eager to begin to transition. Having just gotten off the phone with Mr. Alan Cox, I can say that he is quite thrilled with the speed increases that will occur when the Linux kernel is completely rewritten in Visual Basic. Richard Stallman plans to support this, and hopes that the great Swede himself, Linus Torvaldis, won't object to renaming Linux to VB/Linux. Although not a C coder himself, I'm told that Slashdot's very own Admiral Taco will support this on his web site.

Thank you for your time. Happy coding.

Egg Troll

Re:C: A Dead Language? (-1)

Dead Fart Warrior (525970) | more than 12 years ago | (#2432274)

I've found that if you rewrite the entire slashcode to support J2EE instead of perl, and Oracle instead of mysql, it is a dramatic increase in speed and efficiency.

So much so, that even the zealotous Taco would switch to these commercial, closed choices.

I issue a challenge. I can build slash to work better on half as many machines as it is currently running on. I'll use J2EE and Oracle, Taco uses that language whose only use is to replace shell scripts.

Once again, we'll see commercial software kick the tar out of open source.

BTW - Mad propz on FP!!

dd (-1, Offtopic)

chez69 (135760) | more than 12 years ago | (#2432224)


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Low-brow (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2432406)

Goddamn you're lame.

I tested my IQ last month: 142.

I don't know why I even bother writing here anymore.

I use PacBell's Privacy Manager (5, Interesting)

crispy (14415) | more than 12 years ago | (#2432230)

I haven't had a single phone solicitation since I signed up for the service a few months ago. It's well worth the $3/month.

Re:I use PacBell's Privacy Manager (3, Funny)

ruebarb (114845) | more than 12 years ago | (#2432262)

I use Qwest's call screening service.

Works fine...except when I get calls from Qwest asking me to upgrade my service or notify me of special offers.



It's hasn't been much of a problem lately... (3, Informative)

dpbsmith (263124) | more than 12 years ago | (#2432334)

1) Simply using an answering machine cuts down enormously on phone solicitations. Some sleaze outfits do have equipment that will leave messages but most are only interested in victimizing a live caller.

2) I use an answering machine with a "voice mailbox" capability--mine was made by GE and cost $40. We don't assign anyone to Mailbox 1. Intro message says "Press 2 for Dan, 3 for [my wife]." Those few outfits that use automated equipment to leave message end up in mailbox 1. (But some real messages from baffled people end up there, too, so I still do need to listen to it).

3) On EVERY call I do get, my first words are "I don't want to be called, take me off your list." I believe this really does have some effect.

I currently get less than one solicitation per week.

4) If, for some reason, you're like me and have trouble being rude, a technique that it quite effective with phone solicitors and door-to-door salespeople is to say, politely, but firmly, "No, no, no, no, no, no, no." The person who gave me this tip said that many salespeople are specifically trained NOT to break off the conversation or go away until they have heard "no" seven times. Give them their seven noes and they'll break off gracefully. I don't know if that's the explanation, but it does work.

simple solutions also work (1)

cornflux (168139) | more than 12 years ago | (#2432237)

I'm spending $0.75/mo. for "nonpublish" service. I haven't recieved more than 5 telemarketing calls in a month.

Still, sometimes reactive measures are necessary.

Re:simple solutions also work (1, Flamebait)

marsvin (84268) | more than 12 years ago | (#2432301)

Bloody hell... you *pay* to get "only" 5 telemarketing calls in a *month*?

And Americans wonder why the world thinks they're strange?

Re:simple solutions also work (-1)

Dead Fart Warrior (525970) | more than 12 years ago | (#2432360)

And we also wonder why we haven't bombed you shitty country for saying "bloody" so much.

Don't forget who's got the bombs, mate!

Re:simple solutions also work (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2432375)

At least you've got beauties like Allyson Hannigan, Natalie Portman and Winona Ryder...

Telemarketers suck!! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2432240)

It should be illegal!

HEY, nineth post!

What's the point? (5, Insightful)

aliebrah (135162) | more than 12 years ago | (#2432243)

Wouldn't it just be a lot easier if, for example, when you hear a telemarketer on the phone just say "get bent" and then hang up on them?

Seems like a much less troublesome and a much more effortless solution to me! :)

Re:What's the point? (4, Informative)

xinit (6477) | more than 12 years ago | (#2432379)

I worked in a soliciting house back in high school. That kind of response generally got a number flagged as "no answer, call back." Seemed to be pretty standard procedure; best way to get back at someone who cursed at you and hung up was to call back.

Re:What's the point? (2)

British (51765) | more than 12 years ago | (#2432386)

No, I've hung up on AT&T numerous times and they kept calling me on an almost daily basis until I told them to put me on the list.

Now only if Qwest would stop bugging me about custom choice(I must have a certain set of features turned on to provoke them to bug me abuot it) since I wouldn't use half of those features anyway.

It's kinda simple (3, Redundant)

StormRider01 (231428) | more than 12 years ago | (#2432245)

Ever dial a Disconnected number? The tone that's played is part of the telephone system standard, and when a telemarketing computer receives that tone, it thinks the number has been disconnected, and marks the number as such in it's database.

How it works (5, Interesting)

.@. (21735) | more than 12 years ago | (#2432247)

It emits three rising tones, identical to those that precede "invalid number" errors. Automated telemarketing tools recognize these control tones and disconnect the call, AND remove the number from their dialing pool, since they think it's now an invalid number. After the three tones, the phone rings as normal. Two drawbacks: This won't work with telemarketers that don't use automated tools, and it may confuse people who call you, since their brain may also think "it's an error message, I'm going to hang up now." After all, who listens to the phone errors? When you hear the tones, you know you're not getting through, so you disconnect.

Re:How it works (1)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 12 years ago | (#2432312)

Ooooh, neat! I should dust off my old C64 and have it answer the phone, since they could produce telephone tones very well with the old 300b modems! (c=

Re:How it works (5, Informative)

Cap'n Crax (313292) | more than 12 years ago | (#2432317)

It's a "SIT" tone. "Special Information Tone" or something similar. If you put it as the first thing on your answering machine, the telemarker's auto-calling devices will log your number as "out-of-service" and won't call you anymore. You can get the SIT tone here. []

seems simple enough (1)

andy_from_nc (472347) | more than 12 years ago | (#2432250)

Is there a box somewhere that you can simply have it prevent the phone from ringing if the call is "Out Of Area"? I've never had a solicitation that was brave enough to identify themselves. I don't know that I'd want to pay a subsciption but a box that did that would be well worth my $19.95.

Re:seems simple enough (1)

andy_from_nc (472347) | more than 12 years ago | (#2432297)

On another note I finally got to the website the previous poster was wrong this things is a one time $50. Thats a little steep for me. I'd have to say I'd try it for $19.95, but not $50. No only that but I'd rather the phone not ring if its a telemarketer.

Re:seems simple enough (1)

Doctor Memory (6336) | more than 12 years ago | (#2432302)

Where I used to live, the phone company offered that as a service -- any call that came in w/o a valid caller ID signal was blocked. Which caused me no end of grief at my in-laws, since they used an analogous service that blocked their caller ID. I couldn't call a couple of my friends from my in-laws' until I figured out how to disable the caller-ID masking.

three shrill tones (1, Redundant)

wiredog (43288) | more than 12 years ago | (#2432252)

Yeah, that oughta work. Never thought of that, maybe I'll give it a try.

Better Idea (5, Funny)

InfinityWpi (175421) | more than 12 years ago | (#2432255)

I don't care about the telemarketers. They dont' call me. I wanna device that'll tell people that the reason some strange guy picked up the phone at their daughter's place WAS BECAUSE THEY DIDN'T DIAL THE RIGHT NUMBER! Geeze, people... I should start saying she's tied up to the bed... you'd think after the third wrong number they'd get the hint.

Re:Better Idea (5, Funny)

CmdrPinkTaco (63423) | more than 12 years ago | (#2432384)

I am a 24 year old male (don't worry, there is a reason that Im telling this). At the time that this occured, I still lived with my parents. One morning after a long night of heavy binge drinking I was awakend at the gawd awful hour of 11:00 to my phone ringing. Since I was the only one home at the time, I picked up. On the other end of the line was a telemarketer who was far too perky for my likings that was inquiring about the availiblilty of my sister.

"Yes, this is so-and-so from such-and-such a company, may I speak with Jessica?"

To which I replied in my gravely, gruff, I-smoke-2-packs-a-day-and-you-just-woke-me-up voice, "Yeah, this is her."

The part that really cracked me up was when the perky telemarketer went on to give me the sales pitch.

I just hung up. I have found that to be a very effective method in ridding myself of telespammers.

Caller ID (2)

Skynet (37427) | more than 12 years ago | (#2432257)

Pretty simple. I don't answer the numbers that come up "Unknown" or "Out of Area". That weeds out 95% of the telemarketers. If it's someone I know they just leave a message on my machine and I pick up.


Re:Caller ID (1)

Belatu-Cadros (29131) | more than 12 years ago | (#2432369)

That's what I do right now too. What I would really like is a voice mail system at home that a can route calls to different mailboxes depending on the callerID. Anything that shows up as "Unknown" or "Blocked" gets the three toned message. I have searched, but I am yet to find one...

Re:Caller ID (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2432392)

Yeah - works here too, except that the phone rings which is annoying. I get 2 or 3 calls a day from telemarketers.

Re:Caller ID (2, Interesting)

SteveMonett (528540) | more than 12 years ago | (#2432409)

There is even a way to answer an "Out of Area" and still avoid the telemarketers. Pick up the phone but instead of just saying "hello" pretend to be an answering machine. The autodialer computer listens for sounds that are short, like "hello", or long like a typical invitation to leave a message and only connects you to a human if the burst is short. When my kids use calling cards they show up "unavailable" so when I see such a call after 8pm I use my little speach that ends in "how may I help you." Most real people catch on quickly enough to stay on.

create a problem, sell the solution (1)

jptxs (95600) | more than 12 years ago | (#2432259)

sounds like the american way at work... =]

Can't wait to see this one on QVC.

This line has been disconnected (1)

jonasson (224996) | more than 12 years ago | (#2432260)

My guess is it send out the 3 note tone that indicates a disconnected phone number ("We're sorry, the number you have dialed is no longer is service"). Computers pick that up and (in theory) will remove your number, thinking it's a disconnected number. I've heard reports that putting that tone at the beginning of your answering machine anouncement will accomplish the same thing.

Retired? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2432261)

Perl has not been retired! It is (one of) the most popular languages for CGI in the world.

Re:Retired? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2432293)

i don't know who's stupider. the parent or the reply...

Re:Retired? (-1)

Sunken Kursk (518450) | more than 12 years ago | (#2432371)



Re:Retired? (-1, Flamebait)

Trolligula (527461) | more than 12 years ago | (#2432403)

yes, both the parent and your reply are rather e*tarded

Shrill tones (3, Funny)

Green Aardvark House (523269) | more than 12 years ago | (#2432264)

Could it be as simple as playing back the three shrill tones I hear when I dial a wrong number?

Careful. Those may be copyrighted by your local telephone company.

Re:Shrill tones (5, Funny)

The God Soldier (517409) | more than 12 years ago | (#2432294)

No, they're copyrighted by those guys from Australia...

Why waste it?! (5, Funny)

clinko (232501) | more than 12 years ago | (#2432267)

I love when they call. Mess with their heads. I once told the guy "i'm on the can, but go ahead" Then strained and grunted while he was talking. It was fun, but I laughed too hard then hung up.

My solution to telemarketers (5, Interesting)

atrowe (209484) | more than 12 years ago | (#2432271)

I haven't gotten a call from a telemarketer for years.

My solution: I don't have a home phone. Whenever I am forced to give out my telephone number, I give the number to my cell phone. In my locality (Virginia, US), it is illegal for a solicitor to call a cell phone. This is because if a solicitor were to call my cell phone, *I* would be the one paying for their call.

I'm not sure if this is a nationwide law, or just a local one, but it's certainly worth looking into. Many cellular service providers are now offering unlimited local plans for around $50 US, so the cost is close to that of a regular land line.

Re:My solution to telemarketers (1)

mknapp905 (527716) | more than 12 years ago | (#2432342)

this solution has also worked for me. Why be woken up on a saturday morning by someone wanting to offer you a new Credit Card. I go one step further and give out a dummy number when someone doesnt really need to know what my number is. If my cell phone rings, I know it is important. I am sure that some unfortunate person somewhere is getting some of my telemarket calls, but at least it is not interrupting my Digimon cartoons!!!

... small point ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2432354)

OK Mr. mensa, is this some sort of a recursive logic problem. Or are you just unable to spell "tolerance"?

Card Carrying Red Neck - Stupidity has no tolerance for you.

Re:My solution to telemarketers (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2432357)

Card-carrying Mensa member. I have no toleranse for stupidity.

It would just make my day if that's *not* an intentional joke... :)

Re:My solution to telemarketers (2)

British (51765) | more than 12 years ago | (#2432363)

What about if your home landline # rolls over to your cell phone? That's why I keep my cell phone off during office hours.

Adam, this wont work and here's why: (2)

cobol4me (444373) | more than 12 years ago | (#2432367)

A major problem with this method is that most potential employers, landlords and utility companies DEMAND a local, home number be on file. I have been refused service because of this.

There's no getting around it: you must have a local home number.

Nice Plug for Tivo (1)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 12 years ago | (#2432272)

But I didn't know you could watch TV on a Tivo.

I just leave my answering machine to deal with them. I swore I'd never screen calls, but I get several each day. The worst are the ones that tell me to hold on the line for someone. That's gall.

This will work great! (for about a week) (2, Insightful)

nyquist_theorem (262542) | more than 12 years ago | (#2432273)

It should be a simple software fix to upgrade the telemarketer's systems to search for something beyond that simple tone - even recognizing the entire "the number you have reached has been disconnected" speech pattern would be pretty simple I would think.

A better solution would involve telepone companies getting involved - say you get such a call, you could dial *TELEMARKETER or something, and the number that just called you would be added to a blacklist - when enough people blacklisted the number, that number would be prevented from making outgoing calls for a set period of time.

Ahh, if only the telephone companies didn't make so much money off telemarketers, think of how quickly they would be gotten rid of.

(naive mode off) oh wait... we still have spam... scratch that last bit of wishful thinking then.

I guess they can't sell this over the phone. (0, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2432278)

Given that most people I know tell telemarketers to "Please place me on you do not call list".

This procedure works, is absolutely free and will never break. Unlike...ahem.

phone filter... (1)

Evro (18923) | more than 12 years ago | (#2432281)

Too bad phones don't have the equivalent of procmail filters.

Sure... Caller ID + Anonymous Call Rejection. Works well!

You still have to answer (1)

IPFreely (47576) | more than 12 years ago | (#2432282)

You still have to answer for it to work. It just makes the other end quit without talking to you.

We need something that keeps it from ringing in the first place.

Re:You still have to answer (1)

Yogger (24866) | more than 12 years ago | (#2432410)

We need something that keeps it from ringing in the first place.

Wire cutters?

Voicemail recording? Not likely (1)

KlfJoat (303651) | more than 12 years ago | (#2432284)

Most autodialers cut off after 4 rings, which is the standard answering time of an answering machine/voicemail, etc. Putting the TeleZapper tone, or any other tone for that matter, at the beginning of your voicemail message wouldn't work unless you could change your voicemail to answer after less than 4 rings. I know I can't do that.

Yesssssss. Zap'em all !!! (1)

C0vardeAn0nim0 (232451) | more than 12 years ago | (#2432285)

With a high-power electric discharge.

"telezaper" is certainly a name more adequate to a stun-gun. If they find a way to send a high voltage through phone lines (like 100.000 volts) I'll certainly buy one.

The bigest point would make this work with cell phones too...

Start the privacy protection wheel rolling... (1)

sarkeizen (106737) | more than 12 years ago | (#2432286)

This doesn't sound like too lame an idea. However I can see it easily creating a market for better/smarter autodialers.

Which would say to me that a similar kind of neverending merry-go-round which exists between copy protection and deprotection is going to start up between indiscriminate marketing and the privacy conscious.

Even easier (5, Informative)

Tim Macinta (1052) | more than 12 years ago | (#2432287)

Junkbusters [] has an excellent page on stopping telemarketters [] . Before I read the Junkbusters script I always got annoyed at how telemarketters would keep pitching their product to me after I had politely said no and the only way I could get them to stop was to be less polite and just hang up on them. After reading the Junkbusters site and trying their script I discovered that the magic words "Can you please put this number on your do-not-call list?" almost always gets the telemarketter to immediately stop pitching to you (and it has the nice side effect that some might actually put you on their do-not-call list at some point). They are legally required to maintain a do-not-call list, so they pretty much have to stop bothering you when you ask - check out the Junkbuster site for more info.

Use a cell (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2432290)

I just use a cell phone, I've never gotten a telemarketing call except from a credit card company that I already had a card with, and even then I just tell them that I don't accept sales calls on my cell phone :) If I get them off the phone is less than a minute, it's free!! It's also good for eliminating redundancy, who needs a landline anyway?

Zapper? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2432292)

I didn't see anything in the article about sending large electric charges into the ear canals of telemarketers. Now there's an invention that will make its inventor a mint.

Phone answering machine (2)

Alioth (221270) | more than 12 years ago | (#2432296)

You can do this quite easily with a phone answering machine - just record the three-tone "invalid number" message at the start of your greeting.

Personally, I've not even bothered with doing that. During the time that telemarketers call (before 9pm weekdays/Saturdays) I just let the answering machine do the screening. All my friends know I'll pick up as soon as I hear them speak.

A fun site to visit is Antitelemarketer [] . Has some interesting telemarketer tormenting tricks :-]

A polite but firm... (5, Informative)

ktakki (64573) | more than 12 years ago | (#2432298)

"Please put me on your No Call List."

Cuts right through their spiel. They have to honor your request: it's the law.

I cut my telemarketing calls down from four daily to once every two months. It worked a hell of a lot better than "So, what are you wearing?".


Re:A polite but firm... (1, Informative)

Dimensio (311070) | more than 12 years ago | (#2432347)

I'm aware of the law, but I need to get a phone conversation recording device. I once told that to a telemarketer and received a harsh, "No!" before he hung up. I wanted to sue, but I didn't have any documentation :(

You've heard it. (1)

JumpinJohnny (124823) | more than 12 years ago | (#2432299)

You know those 3 tones that you get when you dial a disconnected number, just before the recorded voice announcement. I've heard it a lot in the last few months. Dotcoms out of business.

Just hang up... (4, Funny)

sterno (16320) | more than 12 years ago | (#2432304)

How about just hanging up on every person who calls you? If it's important they'll call you back, even if they are a bit confused. Telemarketers never call back.


2) Causes confusion (always a plus)

out of service tone (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2432307)

The telezapper just plays the 3 tones that
mark a number that is out of service. It plays them everytime your phone is picked up. The telemarketer's equipment is supposed to remove all "out of service" numbers.

You can get the same effect by putting those tones on your answering machine. If you have voicemail, the telezapper can't work, but adding the tones will.

I don't know of adverse effects of using the tones (other than callers being confused and thinking you're weird), but I suppose there could be some.

I'm sure someone will post a location with a .wav file of those three tones...

Phonesets with procmail (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2432311)

There ARE phones with filters. You can
can choose numbers you want to block.
If somebody calls you from one of
the blocked numbers the phone silently
discards the call.


I'll save you all money! (2)

FortKnox (169099) | more than 12 years ago | (#2432314)

Simple solution. No gadget needed, no CallerID, no privacy checker. Once you get a telemarketer call, say "Take me off your list"

After about a week you may get 1 stray spam call once every 3 months. If its someone you already talked to, depending on your state, you can usually sue them for a good sum of money.

You can thank me and send me all that extra money you were about to spend :-P

How to identify telemarketers by ear (1)

Len (89493) | more than 12 years ago | (#2432315)

I can usually identify spam calls and hang up before they start their spiel. The way the autodialers work is that they dial phone numbers until someone answers, and then route the call to one of the human talkers. So there's a delay of a few seconds after I pick up the phone, while it rings one of the people and waits for them to answer. If I don't hear a response a couple of seconds after I say "Hello", I hang up.

So far I haven't hung up on my mother, as far as I know. :-)

Why? Telemarketers provide hours of free fun! (5, Funny)

MadCow42 (243108) | more than 12 years ago | (#2432318)

Well, if you're bored, anyways:

1: "I'd like to ask you a few questions for a survey..."
you: "Sure, hold on a second, I'll be right back" (put phone next to stereo playing Cindi Lauper, for about an hour).

2: "May I speak to the man of the house?"
you: "Define 'man'..." (rant and rave about sexual discrimination until they hang up)

3: "I'd like to offer you a free..."
you: "Where is it made? Does it contain asbestos? Is it compatible with Linux? Were any animals harmed during it's manufacture? How much does it cost anyways? What do you mean free? Oh, sorry, I can't afford free."

4: "Hi, is this Mr. _____?"
you: "Sorry, he died this morning.... (boo hoo...)"

5: "We're going to be in your neighborhood..."
you: "Can you help me with something first... I gotta finish this math homework before I do anything else... What's the cube root of 42? How do you calculate the inverse tangent for triangle A?"

You get the point... it's amazing fun actually, you don't have to make any sense either! Annoy them enough, waste their time, they'll never call again, and be less apt to annoy your neighbors! If everyone used up their time, telemarketing would cease to be profitable, and would then stop happening!


Telezapper - How it works (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2432321)

Heres how it works.

Slimy Telemarketter's computer dials your number, it waits until the phone goes off hook. Then it listens. If it hears the 'disconnected' tone the computer hangs up, and is supposed to delete the number. If it does not hear this tone, the line is sent to the next live scumbag er, telemarketter.

The telezapper hangs out on your line and when you PICK UP the phone (no matter how many rings) the telezapper will insert this tone into your line. (Documentation says to insert 1.5 seconds of silence before talking, answering machine, etc.)

Of course all callers will hear this tone, but followed by a 'hello' or with whatever creative way you answer your phone.

A recording of this wav and a clone of the telezapper is here:

Sadly though, patents have caused the above URL to cease sales, but good info.


Related question (2)

John Harrison (223649) | more than 12 years ago | (#2432324)

One or two times a day I receive calls with nobody on the other end. I usually say "Hello..... Hello??? Anybody there?" for a while and then hang up.

I have been told that this is a telemarketing system seeing if my number is "good". Is there any truth to this?

Finally, I want to allow telemarketers to call me, but I want a $0.50 credit on my phone bill for each minute (partial minutes should count too, just like when the phone company charge me) that I spend listening to them. Let them pay to bother me. In fact, there should be a message that plays when a telemarketer calls:

"For a chage of 50 cents a minute this line will accept you telemarketing call. Press '1' to accept, otherwise please disconnect and remove this number from your list."

Re:Related question (4, Interesting)

Rackemup (160230) | more than 12 years ago | (#2432401)

One or two times a day I receive calls with nobody on the other end. I usually say "Hello..... Hello??? Anybody there?" for a while and then hang up.
I have been told that this is a telemarketing system seeing if my number is "good". Is there any truth to this?

Most likely... they program their computers to try a number several times. If someone answers it gets flagged as "active" and you go into the caller databse.

The same thing happened to my parents last month. Every day for a week they get ghost calls (no one on the other end), then a week later someone calls to ofer them a credit card, carpet cleaning, etc.

Not on my cell phone.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2432326)

I use a cell phone as my main point of contact. The only thing I use my landline for is to dial-up (no cable or DSL in this house baybee!!!). If the house phone rings, 9 out of 10 times its a telemarketer and I'll pick it up, hear the usual delay with background voices, so I know I can set the phone down and wait for them to hang up. No more of those phony cops calling from the F.O.P. or the State Troopers something-or-other threatening me when I say I don't want to give any money! (I actually had one threaten me...damn pigs)

Filters (1)

Root Down (208740) | more than 12 years ago | (#2432327)

Too bad phones don't have the equivalent of procmail filters.

They do. Filters just take a look at the message and see if it wants to throw it, ergo...

Me: Hello?
TM: Hello, is *pause* Mr. [mispronounced last name intoned with deep southern accent - I live in the northern US] available?
Me: *click*

Don't have that problem (2)

jmv (93421) | more than 12 years ago | (#2432329)

In Canada, it is now illegal to do "automatic telemarketing", that is it has to be a real person calling. That decreases a lot the amount of telemarketing calls we have.

Other "Opt-Out" Strategies (2, Funny)

soup (6299) | more than 12 years ago | (#2432330)

There seems to be a "don't call" list out there; My son tried one tactic on a female telemarketer by treating the call as a "phone-sex" call, asking her what she was wearing, etc.

We haven't had ANY such calls since.

Of course, this might not have been as convincing if he had tried it with a man...

This give me an idea... (2)

jgerman (106518) | more than 12 years ago | (#2432336)

... I'm working on answering machine software for my linux box, I was going to have personalized messages based on the number I got through caller id, one for my parents, friends ect. It'd be a snap to record a piercing screetch and have the software answer with that everytime a Uknown Caller Unknow number comes through. Kick ass, automated revenge.

Autodialers (1)

Green Aardvark House (523269) | more than 12 years ago | (#2432344)

This is a great idea, not to mention the fact that these companies who use them are not only annoying, but cowardly; there's no live body on the other end of the line.

AFAIK the automated devices are illegal in some states, but that problem can be circumvented [] by calling from a state where it's legal.

The site [] offers a lot of advice for those tired of telemarketers.

I'm sure this violates some federal law (2)

Zen Mastuh (456254) | more than 12 years ago | (#2432348)

Or it will--as soon as their trade ass'n (Direct Marketing Assocation?) convinces Congress that it may cut revenues. It is technological circumvention after all, and this is apparently the season for draconian income-protection legislation.

How long before they drop the ruse and just take our whole fuckin' paycheck? They can split it up among the federal government, the RIAA, the SPA, the MPAA, and--of course--the Big Five Media Companies.

Re:I'm sure this violates some federal law (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2432353)

I doubt that, I'm sure congressmen and supreme court justices hate getting calls right when they sit down to dinner too.

Re:I'm sure this violates some federal law (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2432389)

Congress critters don't answer phones, read mail, fill out their tax forms, etc... That is what servants^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H aides are for. Jesus man, we live in an aristocracy, not a democracy.

This used to be illegal (2)

swm (171547) | more than 12 years ago | (#2432350)

FCC regs used to prohibit computer devices (like modems and answering machines) from emiting sound for (IIRC) 2 seconds after picking up an incoming call.

This was to prevent the device from interfering with call setup/billing info, which used to be sent in-band (blue boxing).

Those regs were in force as of ca. 1983. I don't know if they were ever repealed.


But that's no fun.... (3, Funny)

Lizard_King (149713) | more than 12 years ago | (#2432351)

Takes all the fun out of screwing with telemarketers!

Telemarketer: Sir, would you like to know how we can help you save money on your telephone bill?

"Uhhhh, actually, I've been trying to spend more money lately."

Telemarketer: But Sir! We know for a fact that you are spending too much money on your long distance service. We can help reduce your rates by....

"See, that's just the thing. I've been making a concerted effort to start spending *more* money these days. I've been a pretty cheap bastard in my days. Do you have any programs where I could spend more on my long distance calls?"


Use a cellphone (1)

eison (56778) | more than 12 years ago | (#2432352)

Easy solution: Cancel the home line or keep it just for TiVo updates, and use a cellphone for all communication. No solicitations.

Seems a little expensive doesn't it? (2)

Rackemup (160230) | more than 12 years ago | (#2432358)

The Telezapper is basically a tone generator, it just sends out a special tone when you pick up the line. In theory it's a good idea but I see 2 things wrong with it:

#1 - Why is it so expensive? ($75 Cdn (or was that US) that I saw it advertised for) Surely someone else can make a tone-generator for much less than that.

#2 - It doesn't work for direct-dialed numbers. Surely there are a number of telemarketing firms out there that dont use computer-dialed lists, in which case a tone-generator would be useless.

I use a cell phone and while I do get the occasional wrong number I have never received a call from a telemarketer. My parents do though, and they'd love a way to get them to stop.

What a waste of money (2)

ergo98 (9391) | more than 12 years ago | (#2432361)

The commercial is hilarious because it shows a rather wealthy individual who's home is invaded by a telemarketer, and then it proposes the "Telezapper". The reality is that there isn't probably a "upper-crust" person on this planet who would expect their callers to listen through the 3-tone disconnected tone so that they can avoid telemarketers. Personally I'd be very irritated if everytime I called a friend I had to listen to that.

Having said that I get very few telemarketer calls and I presume it's because I'm hostile: For instance if I get a call with the "Please wait for an important call" I've usually hung up by "Pl...". If I get a call and there is a delay I hang up immediately. Quickly I seem to get removed from the sucker lists.

ISDN (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2432362)

The idea of sending Unallocated number tones won't work most of the time. Large outbound callcenters are connected via ISDN. If a call is anwsered the callcenter application will receive a connect message and know that the call is anwsered. After this it will wait for a pause within a certain amount of time. If it finds this it will assume that a person has anwsered and route the call to an agent. If an agent is not available it will "Hangup in Face".

Annoying technology to replace annoying spam. (1)

xinit (6477) | more than 12 years ago | (#2432364)

I've seen these, and I have a feeling that they're brought to you by the same people who sell the auto dialler machines to the tele-spam companies. The auto-dial machines listen for the "beep-beep-beep" bit that begins the "this number is out of service" announcement the phone company uses, and deletes the number from it's rotation.

So, they then market a machine to home users to bypass their own auto dialer, making money on both ends.

THEN they market an upgrade to the auto-dialer to be smarter about how it deletes numbers.

THEN they market an upgrade to the answering system to be smarter about getting deleted.

Nice product upgrade path, hmmm?

Add to that the benefit of having all of your calls answered with a "beep beep beep" when you pick up. This is just my theory on how it works, so it might not be THAT aggravating, but I'd be willing to bet it's close.

Do Not Call Lists (1)

north.coaster (136450) | more than 12 years ago | (#2432372)

New York as well as many other states now publish official Do Not Call lists. Telemarketers will be fined if they call someone on the DNC list. The one exception is charitable organizations, who can still make as many calls as they want. In NY the service is free; in some other states (Florida, for example) you have to pay.

We signed up for the NY list as soon as it was offered, and the number of telemarking calls has decreased dramatically since it took affect. We have noticed an increase in telephone surveys, however, so the telemarketers may be pretending to be pollsters (I'm not sure; we never participate in telephone polls.


Use the "brown tone" (0, Redundant)

Dissident (20799) | more than 12 years ago | (#2432373)

Wouldn't it be cool if you actually knew how to reproduce the mythical "brown tone?" It's supposed to induce massive diahrea nearly instantly. I'd love to unleash that on all the damned people trying to get me to try their 21% credit cards!

In a related story... (2)

Uttles (324447) | more than 12 years ago | (#2432376)

Has anyone seen commercials advertising a "privacy service" by your local phone company? I have BellSouth here in Atlanta, GA and I think it's very interesting that BS offers this service where during certain times of day they will have an automated system screen your calls and give you the option of taking the call or playing a pre-recorded decline message. That is a great idea, but they want to charge an arm and a leg every month for you to have the service, so they'll be making money charging you and making money selling your phone number to the telemarketers... what a great racket!

a new method (1)

nanojath (265940) | more than 12 years ago | (#2432380)

It can't get much more simple than this: whoever they ask for is never home, I, the call answerer, can't make any decisions of any nature about anything, and if they ask when the best time to call would be I give them the hours I'm at work. I don't remember the last time I spoke to a telemarketer for more than 15 seconds. There's absolutely nothing they can do about this simple tactic.

no call list (2, Informative)

bpowell423 (208542) | more than 12 years ago | (#2432381)

In Tennessee, at least, there is a state-run no call list [] . You can sign up over the web or the phone. It's ILLEGAL for any business to call you unless you have recently done business with them. In other words, Sprint could legally call me, since I use their long distance, but AT&T can't.

The only thing I miss is getting to pick on the poor telemarketers. Oh well.

I saw this in a magazine... (1)

Jungle Boy (78414) | more than 12 years ago | (#2432383)

I saw this a couple months ago in a magazine. I believe it was Poptronics (used to be Popular Electronics and Electronics Now).
I did a quick search on their site though [] , and was unable to find the article.

My younger brother actually hooked this up. It was as simple as adding the tones to the beginning of the answering machine message. The only problem is, that legitimate callers might also be fooled by the tone and hang up before they realize what's going on.

Legislation - There's some Hope (2)

Kozz (7764) | more than 12 years ago | (#2432388)

A bill has passed [] (warning: PDF file) on Aug 30, 2001 by Wisconsin Gov. Scott McCallum that allows Wisconsin customers to register in an "opt-out" list from which telemarketers must filter their call lists. It's going to be implemented some time in 2002. I can't wait.

Try calling your Rep and ask for similar legislation!

The cynic in me now says that numerous Slashdotters will now come up with hundreds of silly reasons why this will be useless and/or not work. Still, I hope they're wrong, because this will be a great relief if it works.

Telemarketers = Stress Relief (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2432391)

I spend all day at my job on the phone and have to be polite to even the most obnoxious of folks. When I get home and a telemarketer calls, its like someone just begging for abuse. Its a good form of stress relief to just chew them out.

You should ask them not to call (4, Informative)

victim (30647) | more than 12 years ago | (#2432394)

Rather than baffle all your legitimate callers, you should first register with the Direct Market Association [] . The marketers don't want to waste time calling hostile people. Use this [] to register as a hostile customer. In a bizarre twist, if you register online it is $5. If you register by snail mail it is free. Use snail mail.

I registered quite some time ago and almost all of my sales calls went away. Just the little local people an newspapers were still calling.

You might also check with your state. In Missouri you can sign up here [] and it becomes illegal for people to call you (with some exceptions for people with powerful lobbies.) I am on this list as well and can't remember the last time I got a sales call.

You people are getting it all wrong... try (5, Funny)

Lostman (172654) | more than 12 years ago | (#2432399)

something like an EULA. Why just let them call or pay money in order for you not to get their calls, when them calling you can be a source of income?

Use caller-id and whenever you see a number that does not appear, answer the phone with "Thanks for calling the (whatever) residence. Because of the increasingly large amount of time taken up on the phone I am having to start charging a fee for those who wish to speak to me. By staying on the phone you acknowledge and aquiesce to the fact that you will be held responsible for a 5 doller/minute cost to speak to me. If you do not agree to this, please hang up now" -- since most telemarketers are under strict policies that they can not hang up on customers.. well, it worked for the software industry, right?

TeleZapper', (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2432402)

The TeleZapper sends a network intercept tone, the same tone you hear if you dial a wrong number. The telemarker computer will hear this and may mark the number as bad and take it off the list. The tones may hower cause issue with collect, operated assisted and possible PBX calls, so it might not be the great tool the sales guy says it is.

The only thing to do... (3, Informative)

NaturePhreak (183776) | more than 12 years ago | (#2432407)

I work for a company that (among other things) sells predictive dialer systems to telemarketing services. As such, I have found out a couple things about telemarketing that I'd like to pass on:

1. If you get a telemarketer on the phone, all you need to say is "Please put me on your do not call list." Thats all, nothing more. If the telemarketer says anything else to try to get you to buy, ask to talk to their supervisor. After a few months you won't receive any more calls. Telemarketing houses buy lists of names from distributors and are required by law to keep you on a permanent do not call list of you ask for it, and are also required to pass that list back to the distributor.

2. Be careful when you sign up for Magazines, credit cards, etc. Businesses will sell their subscriber's info to telemarketing houses.

3. Look up your state's Public Service Comission. In some states, it's illegal to contact a person that has been put on the state's do not call list. In some cases you can sign up over the Internet.

4. If the phone rings and you get dead air, it's probably a telemarketer. Don't hang up!!! Wait for them to come on the line and follow #1

disappointed (5, Funny)

Dr. Awktagon (233360) | more than 12 years ago | (#2432414)


Aww, shucks, I saw this and I thought it would be some clever system that involved high voltage.

...and why it DOESN'T work.... (5, Informative)

iceT (68610) | more than 12 years ago | (#2432417)

Summary, when 'someone' answers the phone, the Telezapper sends out a tone that makes the telemarketers auto-dialer think it's out of service, and then the telezapper hangs up.

This is all well and good, execpt that my answermachine is pretty smart. It can sense when an extenion picks up the phone, and the the answering machine will stop and hang up it's extension.

So, follow along:

1) Telemarketer auto-dialer dials a number
2) No one is home, so the answering machine picks up.
3) The telezapper, seeing an extension pick up, also picks up, and plays it's little tones.
4) The answering machine, realizing that 'someone' picked up an extension, stops the playback of the outgoing message, and hangs up.
5) The telezapper, having played it's tones, also hangs up.

Now... in that process, when was an ACTUAL caller allowed to leave a voice message?

That's right. Never.

Pretty severe logic flaw, IMHO.

Telemarkter Stopper (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2432418)

Telemarkter Stopper [] .

See the link above for a similar product. It plays the "dead Line" tone that the phone company uses called a Special Information Tone (SIT). the computerized predictive dialers automatically detect this tone and remove you from the calling list.
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