Sales and solicitation calls make up a large percentage of incoming calls in American households today. Ringing phones and obnoxious salespeople have been known to interrupt dinners and invade the personal privacy of thousands of unsuspecting homeowners. It’s no wonder that more and more individuals are screening their home phone calls.
- If the process of call screening is new to you, fear not. A simple answering machine can make life simpler and put the control of your privacy back into your own hands where it belongs. Check your local discount store or even a local thrift store for a basic answering machine, making sure it is compatible with your home phones and local phone service. Connect the machine to your phone, and record an outgoing message that indicates to callers that you are temporarily unavailable. Make sure the volume is turned up on the answering machine so you can effectively screen phone calls as they come in.
- When the phone rings, check the Caller ID display on your phone, if you subscribe to that feature through your local phone company. Using Caller ID to screen your phone calls is the easiest way to determine whether or not to pick up the phone when it rings. If the caller name and number is unknown, allow the machine to answer for you. This will avoid the possibility of getting stuck speaking to yet another salesperson or charity plea. If the caller identifies himself as someone you know, you still have the option of picking up the phone before the call is ended. At this point, you can quickly turn off the answering machine and continue the phone conversation without being recorded.
- If Caller ID is not available in your area, or if you simply can’t afford it, the next best option for screening your phone calls lies solely with the answering machine. As the caller identifies himself and begins to record a message, you can make the decision whether you wish to interrupt the recording or let the machine take the message. Sales solicitation calls will eventually dwindle using this method, as your phone number begins to get labeled as a “no answer” line.
- Voicemail features provided by your local phone company can also be used in a similar fashion, but they lack the instant play feature that answering machines afford. A voicemail call screening situation would entail letting the call go to voicemail and then checking to see if the caller left a message. The disadvantage to this method is that you must call the person back, if it was indeed someone you wished to speak with after all. Answering machines are more versatile for call screening, and they cost less than voicemail that comes through the phone company. Purchasing an answering machine is a one-time expense. Voicemail is an ongoing monthly bill.
Once you get the knack of screening your phone calls, you’ll feel liberated and in control of your household once again. Solicitors, bill collectors, and even annoying acquaintances will no longer have direct access to your life.