Ask HN: Why does this spammer keep calling me when he loses money each time?

9 points by didgetmaster 3 days ago

I use my phone for a small software business so I can't just block any unknown number. A call from a customer or potential customer could come from anywhere. I must get a dozen cold calls a day from spammers/scammers.

I automatically just hang up if the other end is a recording, but if it is a live person I will let them give their sales pitch. Even if they are just paying slave wages to some outfit in India, it still costs them something to have a live person speak to me. Every minute I keep them on the line is one less minute they could be scamming someone's grandmother. So if I am not too busy, I think it is a public service to waste a few minutes of their time. If everyone did this then these shops would have to change their business model or go bankrupt.

There is a certain outfit selling insurance for 'final expenses'. I have no doubt that it is way overpriced and if I died then if by some miracle they were still in business; then my heirs would probably have to fight them for any money they owe.

I have tried everything. Politely telling them no (after making them repeat everything a few times). Telling them to get lost. Telling them I am way too young. Telling them they are scammers and I will never fall for their scam. Nothing makes them take me off their list. They must have called me 100+ times. Every time is a complete waste for them, but they keep doing it.

As Butch Cassidy would say, that is bad for business. But they keep doing it.

notahacker 3 days ago

Can think of plenty of possible reasons.

They bought a fairly short "prospect" list for crappy life insurance products, you're on it for whatever reason and whoever's selecting names to call from the prospect list doesn't have the ability (or inclination) to remove names from it.

It's not one entity, it's some MLM type operation where everyone gets given or sold the "prospect" list which happens to include your name on it

You get flagged for calls back because you answered and politely said "not interested at the moment" one time. Or you get flagged for calls back simply because callcentre employees have to flag some percentage of their calls as generating a "call back" response to avoid being terminated for underperformance

You're good "for training purposes" because you usually answer and listen to part of the pitch and say a few things! Or "calls to make when my boss is standing behind me" or "calls to make when my average call length KPI is dipping and I'm worried I might be terminated for underperformance"

stateableio 3 days ago

It’s actually really simple. They just aren’t very sophisticated.

I spent a long many years working in the call center industry and the people who head these up are not exactly FAANG engineers.

Just imagine a company where all tracking is done on shared spreadsheets and there is maybe one technical resource that operates the dialer. Now factor in millions of calls a day and it’s easy to see how a lot stuff just doesn’t make it up the priority list.

I worked for a company that did their main marketing by cold calling office lines in Manhattan. They would make about 1 million dials a day, maybe 5% answer, transfer 2-3% of those to a closer, and close maybe 5% of those. Whole thing running on Google sheets.

While that’s happening, they are accidentally hitting law offices, hospitals, schools, and other egregious violations (both legal and otherwise) that are taking up their very limited time and attention. I remember one period where they kept dialing the literal procedure rooms in hospitals - often the same one.

So, yeah, your phone call is probably just getting marked “No Sale” and that’s that.

softwaredoug 3 days ago

Your strategy could be backfiring here. More time with the spammer could equate to more interest to them. Even if you ultimately say no every time, maybe it’s a signal in their system that you could be persuadable - so they try again.

gradschool 18 hours ago

I've had callers swearing to take me off their list without doing so. I imagine their individual performance metrics relative to those of their co-workers would benefit by having you waste their co-workers' time. In that sense they're incentivized to facilitate the public service you seek to provide. While you have them on the line, could you perhaps get them to consider whether their co-workers are deliberately screwing them over by recommending you to them? Even if they're not in a position to change jobs, you could at least enlist their help in damaging the organization's morale.

zw123456 3 days ago

When I was in college, I had this "friend" who, when we went out on the town, in a bar, or club, would walk right up to women and ask them if they wanted to fuck. Just like that, it was embarrassing. But he persisted. I asked him, why do you keep doing this when such an approach almost never is successful. He simply replied, because, when she says yes, I know that I have a sure thing. It saves a lot of time.

smoldesu 3 days ago

Coming soon to 'new':

"Ask HN: Why does this guy keep picking up my calls when I always try scamming him?"

max_hammer 3 days ago

Most probably your number is sold to different scammer companies. It's not like they have central database to blacklist customer.

Also, labour is pretty cheap in India. These companies do not pay taxes or employee benefits. They can easily hire someone for 300$ per month

slater 3 days ago

it's the same economics as spam: a million phone calls are cheap to buy. you only need a small percentage to respond to make a tidy profit.

  • didgetmaster 3 days ago

    That is why we need to increase the cost of each phone call and reduce the percentage who actually fall for it. If it only costs $100 to bother a million people, but you can get $1000 from a dozen people who fall for it, then it remains a profitable business model.

    If however, it cost 50 cents for each call then cold calling a million people now has a half million dollar expense. You have to get a lot more people to fall for it in order to cover your costs.

  • nikau 3 days ago

    Adding to that, even the scam call centres have a corporate hierarchy, they have the lowest paid staff doing the initial grunt work to try and hook a sucker, if they are successful they then handover to a more experienced scammer to close the deal.

  • bediger4000 3 days ago

    These are repeated calls to a known time waster, the asker of this question. Asker is not going to say yes, ever

    At this point, I've come to believe that spamming and cold calling does not make money. It's sociopathy. Phone and email spammers do it solely to cause pain and suffering.

    Back in the 2000-2005 time frame, email spammers would put real addresses to email back. If you complained, you'd usually get a threat reply: they'd snow you with spam emails. You were supposed to "just hit delete" or they'd punish you with what you complained about.

    Same with cold callers. Before IVR/VRU became cheap, you'd get humans, mostly north Americans. They would let you waste their time over and over.

    It's not money these psychos are after. It's pain, suffering and inflicting their will on the unwilling.

hindsightbias 3 days ago

Why is’t there a GPT-3 test-to-speech app bot that will answer and entertain them?

  • quickthrower2 3 days ago

    You could get through 3 minutes or so with some pre-recorded "yeah" "ok" responses. Maybe add a "wait a minute, in a tunnel" to it.

  • muzani 3 days ago

    It'll cost you far more than the spammer is paying for the call.

quickthrower2 3 days ago

Probably because people who waste their time (and don't just hang up, or fall for the scam) are a tiny minority that it doesn't blip on their radar.

muzani 3 days ago

It costs more to filter the inefficiency than it does to take the loss.