Off topic: How do you answer phone calls from unknown numbers?
Thread poster: Heinrich Pesch

Heinrich Pesch  Identity Verified
Finland
Local time: 07:45
Member (2003)
Finnish to German
+ ...
Jun 3, 2012

I assume everyone uses a phone where you see the number of the caller.

Do you always answer the same way, if you don't know the person who is calling? What word do you use?
Do you vary your response according to the country code, so if you see the caller is from country A do you attempt to respond accordingly? Hello instead of Hallo or Pronto? Your name (as I would usually do)? It always irritates me when I respond with my name the caller still asks (after introducing themselves), if they are speaking with me.


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Mats Wiman  Identity Verified
Sweden
Local time: 06:45
Member (2000)
German to Swedish
+ ...

MODERATOR
My answer is simple Jun 3, 2012

"Mats Wiman"

i.e Mahts Veeman, not Maets Wyman

[Edited at 2012-06-03 10:32 GMT]


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José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 03:45
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Alô? (in PT) Jun 3, 2012

My landline has no caller ID feature, I see no point in having it. My cell requires me to have my reading glasses on to see that number.

So the "alô" serves the purpose to let the caller know there is a human being there, listening. The complex part comes afterwards.

First, the language. If I see the caller has trouble communicating in PT, I try "Do you speak...?" in this sequence EN/ES/IT/FR. The only time it failed, after all attempts, I got a Sehr kosmopolit! Nur Deutsch. Auf wiedersehn. and the person hung up; no point in continuing the dialogue with someone probably misled by my surname.

Then I tell them my phone number, unless they've asked for me already. Sometimes they may have dialed the wrong number. Quite often, they miswrote my number as being someone else's, so there is no point in dialing it again. And there are those with out-of-area cell phones who forget to enter the area code before calling my same number in their home town.

If they don't know who they want to speak to, I convince them that there is no point in knowing who I am; I'll be the wrong person anyway, so they can sell their wares to someone else.

The worst are unknown callers on Skype, usually identified by the system as being in Africa (i.e. across the Atlantic) who - out of the blue - want "to have sex with me tonight". These are squelched forever right away, no chance to persist.


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Oliver Walter  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 05:45
Member (2005)
German to English
+ ...
I answer them Jun 3, 2012

Here in the UK (with the BT - British Telecom - phone service, at least) the ability to see the number of the caller is an option for which the customer pays a small extra amount per month and needs extra equipment to display the number of an incoming call. I am not using that service at present, but I may decide to in the future. I can call the number 1471 at any time and the system will give me an automated reply of one of the following three types (relating to the most recent call made to me, whether or not I answered it):

1. "Telephone number xxxx called today at 10:30", or
2. "You were called today at 10:30. The caller withheld their number", or
3. "You were called today at 10:30. We do not have the caller's number to return the call."

All of these types can be calls that I am willing to receive. Type 2 can come from somebody I know, who has decided that their number should be permanently withheld.
Type 3 applies to calls from other countries. They are typically one of these:
  • from a "boiler room" operation (probably in Spain) wanting me to buy some shares that either don't in fact exist or are of very doubtful quality;
  • from somebody claiming to be "the computer service" that has been monitoring my computer and has found that is infected with a virus;
  • from a translation agency in another country, in connection with translation work

I don't answer with my name; like José, I just say "hello". That has never caused a problem and, on the very few occasions when I don't want the caller to know my name, I will still have that option. In the UK there is a TPS (Telephone Preference Service) in which I have included my name - that is a list of people who do not want to be "cold-called" by companies who want to sell goods or services. As a result I receive very few of these unwanted calls. To me, the most important idea is a bit like the way I treat emails that I receive: I am suspicious of the motives of all of them unless and until I have a good reason to communicate with the sender or caller.

Oliver


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José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 03:45
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Interesting features Jun 3, 2012

Oliver Walter wrote:
Here in the UK... I can call the number 1471 at any time and the system will give me an automated reply of one of the following three types (relating to the most recent call made to me, whether or not I answered it):
1. "Telephone number xxxx called today at 10:30", or
2. "You were called today at 10:30. The caller withheld their number", or
3. "You were called today at 10:30. We do not have the caller's number to return the call."


Here in Brazil (at least in the Sao Paulo state), there is a web site where one can enter their phone number(s) on a database. Q&A on it (in PT, of course) may be found here.

Bottom line is that if any telemarketing/phone sales operation cold-calls phones on that database and a complaint is filed, they may have to pay a fine to be assessed between the minimum equivalent to some USD 200 and a maximum of some USD 4 million, according to the law, which also covers other illegal acts, depending of their severity (It's unlikely that a phone call will cost the max penalty, but the figure is there to deter anyone from attempting.)

Btw, duly registered charitable institutions are excluded from this prohibition when calling to ask for donations.

[Edited at 2012-06-03 12:38 GMT]


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Texte Style
Local time: 06:45
French to English
you name Jun 3, 2012

Heinrich Pesch wrote:

I assume everyone uses a phone where you see the number of the caller.

Do you always answer the same way, if you don't know the person who is calling? What word do you use?
Do you vary your response according to the country code, so if you see the caller is from country A do you attempt to respond accordingly? Hello instead of Hallo or Pronto? Your name (as I would usually do)? It always irritates me when I respond with my name the caller still asks (after introducing themselves), if they are speaking with me.



I start with "allo". I don't bother to give my name as people rarely catch it and even more rarely need to know. Those who know me via my volunteer work only know my first name, so there's no point in specifying my whole name anyway. I don't get annoyed if people check that it's me, especially when they don't know me well enough to recognise my voice with a mere "allo".

If I see that the call comes from a country we have family in I respond in the language of that country. If it looks like it might be a client I simply respond in the language I use with them.


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Rachel Fell  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 05:45
French to English
+ ...
depends on type of phone, maybe? Jun 3, 2012

Oliver Walter wrote:

Here in the UK (with the BT - British Telecom - phone service, at least) the ability to see the number of the caller is an option for which the customer pays a small extra amount per month and needs extra equipment to display the number of an incoming call.

I think it depends on the type of phone you have, as (also in the UK) I don't think I pay extra to see the no., it just appears on the phone "window" or else says "Withheld" or "International".


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Tina Vonhof  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 22:45
Member (2006)
Dutch to English
+ ...
Block them Jun 3, 2012

I have "call display" and my (cordless) phone has the option of blocking 'no name and number' calls, 'private' calls (also with no name and number), and 1-800 numbers which are almost always advertisements. In addition I have the option of blocking up to 30 numbers that have turned out to be nuisance calls in the past. Both the caller and I only hear one brief ring and then it stops. These calls are still recorded and I can check the list every day to see if I might have missed something important. I wouldn't want to live without this feature.

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Angel Llacuna  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 06:45
English to Spanish
how do you deal with telemarketing ? (spam phone calls) Jun 4, 2012

I get quite a number of calls from phone companies offering me their services, and even after I refuse the offer, the same company repeats the calls later on

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neilmac  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 06:45
Spanish to English
+ ...
Wrong side of the bed Jun 4, 2012

It depends on how the call finds me - if I've just wakened up and feel a bit grumpy I might just say "yes"? or "sí", which is generally considered rather rude. If asked to identfy myself, I usually ask who wants to know, as they called me, not the other way round.

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Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 06:45
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Simple! Jun 4, 2012

In Spain we have "Dígame", which is perfectly valid for all situations.

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Gennady Lapardin  Identity Verified
Russian Federation
Local time: 08:45
Italian to Russian
+ ...
Let the caller play white (doing the first move) Jun 4, 2012

Womit kann ich dienen? (German) Can I help? (English) Pronto (Italian). Da (Russian)


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Fang Huang  Identity Verified
Switzerland
Local time: 06:45
English to Chinese
Hello Jun 4, 2012

When I get a phone call, most of the time I just answer 'hello', then the caller can start telling me why he or she calls.

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Oliver Walter  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 05:45
Member (2005)
German to English
+ ...
Let them hang Jun 4, 2012

galone_es wrote:
I get quite a number of calls from phone companies offering me their services, and even after I refuse the offer, the same company repeats the calls later on

One method that I use (rarely, in fact) is simply to leave the phone off the hook (i.e. don't hang up to end the call) but walk away and continue what I was doing previously. Eventually they will probably realise that you are really not talking to them and, in the meantime, they are paying for the call. Disadvantage (probably only small) is that nobody else can ring you during that time (probably not more than 1 or 2 minutes).
Oliver


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