02 June 2012

"Rachel at card member services" is a real bitch

Our landline number has been registered with both federal and state "do not call" registries, but we still get annoying calls from "Rachel."  An article at the New York Times reports on the phenomenon.
Readers told me that the Do Not Call Registry seemed to work just fine at blocking calls when it began in 2003 and for several years after that. But the number of unwanted calls has steadily increased... First of all, legitimate organizations, in general, seem to obey the Do Not Call Registry. It’s the fraudulent calls that are becoming more numerous lately....

“The technological advances in the past 18 months have allowed illegal dialers to increase the number of calls they can make..."

Robocalls from “Rachel at card member services” seem in particular to be driving readers crazy. She’s one busy lady, as Blacky Bokich, a reader from Los Angeles, attests, saying he had received Rachel calls from 10 different numbers. In fact, Rachel has been around a long time, Mr. Maxson said, and is really just a digital recording that was made years ago and is recycled by dozens and dozens of lead generators and telemarketers. 
Here in Wisconsin, with the recall election coming next week, the exemption for polticial organizations is truly maddening:
Political calls, especially as the presidential campaign heats up, can be the most annoying. A Robocall Privacy Act has been introduced in Congress by Senator Dianne Feinstein and Representative Zoe Lofgren, both California Democrats. The legislation has gone nowhere
It is so typical and frustrating that national and state elected officials exclude themselves when passing legislation.

There is one tactic I do not recommend:
Others have resorted to more unorthodox means. Mr. Bokich has a loud police whistle and sometimes will press the number for the operator and blow with all his might.
Remember, they have your phone number...


  1. I usually hand the phone over to my niece (5) who works way better than a police whistle...

  2. The Do Not Call Registry is completely toothless. Telemarketers call here daily. I got more and more angry about it until I decided to stop making myself crazy about something I had no control over. I got a phone that displays the number of the caller. If it's not someone I recognize I don't answer. Most automated calls hang up after three rings. My answer machine is set to four, so I rarely even get messages from telemarketers.

  3. The advantage of VOIP, we simply block/reject those numbers. Have to be vigilant, but if you immediately block every one, it does thin out. The Do Not Call List does mean that any calls that get through are not legit, and can be safely ignored.

  4. If it's a computer-generated call, if you press the pound sign repeatedly it'll tell the computer that the number isn't in service. (I think...it sounds good, anyway.) And I finally answered the National Republican Congressional Committee phone call (just the latest of what feels like hundreds) and told them if they called one more time I was going to vote Libertarian just to waste my vote. We'll see if they call back. ;-)

  5. To some extent, these people are doing you a service - after all, anyone who rings you when you're on what in the UK is called the TPS list is clearly a shyster, so you know that you don't want to deal with 'em.


  6. Robocalls are maddening and I had no idea that the persistent, chipper Rachael was so familiar, the town tramp of the phone lines.

    I just had a month long spell of relentless phone calls about a special deal for renewing a science magazine subscription that won't expire until well into next year. They promised to take me off the list but would faithfully break that promise the next day and yet the next. I contacted the magazine directly and told them to make it stop or I'd cancel.

  7. I have experimented with being nice and asking to bad taken off the list. One guy said he would, but the calls keep coming. Maybe he did, but there are tons of other scammers out there. Now I just press 0 for the operator and do one of two things: 1) if I have time I string them along. Apparently $20,000 of credit card debt gets them really excited. $100,000 of debt tells them you aren't serious. 2) If I don't have much time I just yell F**k You really loudly at them and hang up. Option 2 is the most satisfying.

  8. I tell them what they're pitching sounds interesting and ask them to let me get a pencil. I then set the phone down on the counter and walk away. I figure any minute a they're waiting for me is a minute they're not pestering someone else.

  9. I have a couple of friends who refuse to unblock their numbers, so I answer calls. I am on Do Not Call lists, and I am told they they are simply autodialling and have no control when I tell them to take me off their list.

  10. I'm tempted to vote for Scott Walker just because the Democratic people have been calling me every damn day. I'm so sick of them! The republicans never call me. I can't, though. I just can't. But I wish they would just leave me alone! I think I signed a petition once, and that was it. Now they have my number. Those bastards.

  11. I was getting calls from a 3-way phone/tv/internet system (begins with V). I answered and said, very politely, "There is a mandatory $100 per minute fee for unsolicited commercial calls to this number, starting from the minute you called. I have your number."
    The caller said, "I'll have to get my supervisor",
    "Fine, that's be $100 per minute."
    Supervisor gets on the line (he has my name), "Now [name], how may I help you?"
    I repeat,"There is a Mandatory..."
    I repeat.
    "Do you want to be taken off our list?"
    "I don't really care. It's $100 a minute either way. You have my name and number, I expect a check."
    "That's another 4100. Add it to the total."
    "I'll take you off the list."
    "Fine. I look forward to your check."

    no further calls [And no check ;-(]

  12. If a number comes up blocking caller ID or one I don't recognized, I don't answer. Yeah, I have a couple of friends who block caller ID, they simply go to my voicemail every time. One or two figured it out eventually—after being told several times I don't answer blocked numbers—and switched on their caller ID.

    For those times I make a mistake and actually pick up the phone and it is a telemarketer, I simply say, "Oh, I'll have to go get him," and put the phone down next to the speaker of a radio with an iPod mount. On my iPod, I have a play list of songs that are the most horrific, sanity-rending, musical ear worms ever created! Not only are they really awful, they are extraordinary catchy tunes that you just can't get out of your head once you hear them.

    Now, you can't just put the phone down and start the music. Telemarketers aren't that stupid. They'll figure it out and hang up too soon. You want them to stay on and actually have to LISTEN to the music! So, I'll call out, "Bill? You've got a phone call…" all the while starting the playlist of evil. Maybe I'll add, "Hang on a sec'," whilst I put the phone down next to the speaker. If the caller thinks that someone is going to come back to the phone, they'll stay on…

    You know? Now that I think about it, I believe I'm starting to look forward to getting telemarketers on the phone…

  13. I have not had a landline phone in almost 20 years. Sure there have been some frustrations and inconveniences -> but I have had maybe a dozen unsolicited calls to my cellphone (not counting wrong numbers) in the span of that time.
    How wonderful that our gov't established these do not call lists with only two loop holes - their own money making intrests tied to both of them.

  14. FWIW, a lady in germany blew a loud whistle into a telephone, which the telemarketer claimed caused hearing damages. The woman was fined 600 euro.


  15. I agree, it's as if the DNC Registry has stopped working entirely. I register every phone number I've ever had since it was started and it worked great, until easily this past year. What irks the crap out of me is when they call my cell and my carrier acts like I should pay for it or for picking up the voicemail they leave if they leave one. What further irks the further crap out of me is that there is no way to block spam texts. And the carrier acts like they're just stumped. What? Don't give me that you mega-billion dollar making corporate persons, you invented texting using the gaps in transmission of cell calls thereby having exactly zero overhead and 100% profit on each and every single text arbitrarily limited to 140 characters. If only we would all just turn our cells off for one single day. If we did, we'd get listened to right the hell now. But, color me cynically pessimistic that enough teens and tweens would cooperate. --A.

  16. I have had calls from Rachel..

    And they hung up on me when I told them to remove my name form their lists.

  17. Got calls from Rachel, too. But as much as I want to ask her to stop, it's impossible to do so because she's only a recording.

    How come these people are allowed the liberty to harass people and still get away with it? I say "people" because evidently, a lot of people are getting their calls. From http://www.callercenter.com alone, this company is reported to have used these phone numbers:


    and a lot more. Can you imagine that many phone lines? This company must be making a lot of money from harassing people to afford such a large phone bill.

  18. NY Tactic:
    My latest Rachel response [and the likes] does not stop the calls but definitely ticks off the person that answers big time.
    I click through as they request. Then I put the phone with an open line on my table. And, I hear, "Hello. Hello ..." Eventually, they hand up.
    Gives them a taste of their own medicine and I get a little peace knowing it.

    1. But remember, if you really piss them off... they know your number...


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