Friday, 9 July 2010

What a moron...

Update: April 2013 ePetition to make it easier to get compensation for junk calls. Please sign.

OK, I have this person tied up in a "conversation" with a recorded message for over 3 minutes, and she is still talking to me when I have said it is a recorded message several times and finally call her a moron. Maybe the name fits, what can I say.

[Some things not playing these mp3's right, sorry]

http://www.me.uk/2010-07-09T12:54:01.mp3

By the way, just in case you are wondering, it does say at the start that the call is recorded, and records that fact. They clearly have been calling them manually to see why their system thinks we have pressed 2. And they have spotted that the calls are recorded as one says "Oh see, shit, he's changed it, it says this call is recorded".

http://www.me.uk/2010-07-09T12:39:24.mp3

Just to clarify - this is currently only on our office DDI block. We have set up some numbers to go to a honey pot to trap junk callers, and only when we don't get a calling number. In 8 hours on Friday we recorded 66 calls to our offices. Thursday, before the honey pot was set up, in 8 hours we had 331 call attempts from withheld or unavailable to unused office numbers. It shows how much of a problem these junk calls are.

A&A customers can opt for normal ACR (anonymous call reject), more aggressive ACR (unavailable numbers too and a longer chargeable message), and honey pot mode (has a go at junk callers) on any A&A numbers. We believe A&A are the first and only mobile operator complying with the 2003 legal requirement to offer ACR to mobile users, and the service is included free of charge.

The 4 million numbers is the full UK geographic roll out we have going live shortly to sell to customers as our VoIP service. Only unallocated numbers that get calls from withheld/unavailable will go to the honey pot, and only then after a non-charged warning that it is an unallocated number. We don't want to inconvenience anyone that has genuinely mis-dialled.

P.S. To see for your self, call withheld or unavailable to 01344 400 606, international +44 1344 400 606. I'll not count calls to that number in my stats. It is a normal geographic number and is answered. There are random number of rings. Yes it does just start "Hello" as if I have answered the phone. There are two different messages at present.

75 comments:

  1. Thats the funniest thing I've heard for a while. Thankyou :-)

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  2. Kudos to you for doing this and making some of the calls available to enjoy. Priceless!

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  3. At this rate the telemarketers will blacklist your entire number range :p

    Now all it needs is for every other phone provider to do something similar.

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  4. Odd, they have started putting us on hold. Which is odd as they called us, so they just make it a long recording at their expense.

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  5. Maybe they think that they've got more 'lines' than you do, so that by putting you on hold will cause you some grief as they'll be tying up all your 'lines'..... Little do they know!

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  6. Awesome, well done! I suspect that the cold callers may put the dummy numbers on hold as the operatives have to improve their personal stats on the time they keep people on the phone.

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  7. You know, it may be highly amusing to try and connect two telemarketers together if you get more than one calling the block at the same time.

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  8. Yeh, one idea if we get enough callers so there are always a few concurrently is drop them all in to one big conference call and stream it live on a web page.

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  9. I love you and want to bear your children. This is awesome!

    I usually answer the phone 'Fire Service, you light 'em we fight 'em," and that scares them off, but this is far beyond what I can achieve.

    My hat is off to you, sir.

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  10. OK. Here's an idea...

    Set up a service where people can ring up and record messages which can then (after having been screened, of course) be played to the spammers - with a variety of different messages (and they don't all have to be long), they won't be able to work out which are real and which are fake calls.

    My contribution is at:

    http://web01.vitell.co.uk/NAB_phonespam_01.alaw

    or for those who just want to have a listen:

    http://web01.vitell.co.uk/NAB_phonespam_01.mp3

    I'll leave them there until Monday 12th July.

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  11. I work for another ISP/teco provider and think that has to be the best way I have seen of dealing with those call, well done.

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  12. Nice one - very funny. Executed with true class!!

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  13. And another idea....

    Set up a SIP address other people can bounce these calls to, require headers something like:

    X-Original-CLID
    X-Dialled-Number
    X-Dialled-Number-Owner
    X-Inbound-Carrier

    or somesuch (to stop the service being used by Joe Blow and also to gather some useful information), log it all to a database and then play the honeypot message.

    You never know, you may end up with a huge dataset you can wave under somebody's nose to try and get them to do something about it.

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  14. Calls are only coming in 10am to 6pm, and total for the day for calls over 10 seconds is 67 calls. Most at least 1 minute and some up to 4 minutes.

    Some interesting ideas BTW...

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  15. This made me chuckle, especially as I had a call earlier which cut off when I answered it.

    Rob

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  16. http://www.bbc.co.uk/genius/

    Genius!

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  17. You, sir, are my hero. I used to get so much of my time wasted by sales calls. I'd love to see them get a taste of their own medicine.

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  18. I like Nick Barnes' idea!

    Tom

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  19. I'm sick to death of these calls too, for double glazing sales people I sometimes give them the address of my villa in Pafos to tie them up a bit, its amazing how many cold callers dont have a clue that Pafos is not in the UK, one has even called back to query the address as they couldn't find it on their database!

    As I often want to receive calls from friends and abroad some of whom cant provide caller ID I have to accept these nuisance calls. Would it be possible to arrange your system so that if the caller knows the correct 4 digit customer selected (and customer changeable) code to punch in on their dial pad they can get passed through to the customer phone as usual? If they fail that they could then go to the chargeable spam call bin. Just a though. Dominic

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  20. Well done!

    Maybe you should also make the calls available to people who want to torture telemarkers. Web interface where users can connected to them. Then if no humans are they you can just reuse all the previous conversations gathered there at random.

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  21. wow sterling honey pot RevK! the call center drones have a multitude of targets to meet. it's all over-ANALized by middle management who love to show the drones who's boss by changing the goal posts each month/week/day. expect drone attitude to change over time with respect to what is being ordered of them.

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  22. Your reaction to these spammers makes me think of the times where I was able to reply to spam mail with a "Recipient unknown" message from postmaster@mydomain.

    I always had the feeling that it did reduce the numbers of mails from the senders domain.

    Its a long time since my company doesn't allow me to do that anymore.

    Anyway I'm glad to know there are still phonecompany's out there that do this for their customers. I'm pretty sure my phonecompany "belgacom" has sold my number to the telemarketers.

    My telemarketeers now get an answering machine that says in 5 languages that this an answering machine and that they cannot leave a message. Local languages last of course :-)

    Bug them for me please.

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  23. I worked for a telecom in canada, when Telemarketers called me I used to tell them 'oh, this is my girlfriends cellphone, please call me at number ###-###-####' which was our Ains Line Opener in the switch, everytime they called that number if they where calling from anywhere withing the class 5 trunking group of the exchange, their DID line would be de-activated for close to a minute.

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  24. The hold at the start of the call in the 'dialer' making the call before it is transferred to an agent. The agents themselves don't make the calls a bit of software does and as they become available they get fed calls. This means the longer the pause the more you're tying them up XD

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  25. OK, we have a couple of messages now, but a new one ready for Monday explains that it is criminal to make these calls and do you really want a life of crime and do you really want this as a example to set to your kids. It points out that working for criminals to carry our criminal activity loses you all your employment rights and there is no reason to expect to ever get paid. It points out the employer could vanish one day and that is quite likely. It tells them exactly where to look to check the law on this... I wonder if we get anyone to quite?

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  26. Very good idea, very well thought out

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  27. You're now officially my hero. I've been using AAISP for a long time, and this is one of the many reasons why.

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  28. Kudos! Great work guys. (And nice story from Anne!)

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  29. Yes, quite a bit of fine tuning. You can't be talking while they wait for the 2 as they assume an answering machine. I suspect we can make things take a few more seconds if we try.

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  30. Outstanding ! I wish more SP's would tackle these muppets head on, fair play to you !

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  31. Congrats on making Reddit's front page.

    Reddit's front page article


    If you set up a site that the internet community at large can upload time wasting voice mp3's to... I for one would be MORE than happy to help you.

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  32. excellent! I do something like this on a smaller scale, I use hylafax to answer any calls from 1-800 numbers, and incoming calls which have no caller-id. we simply wait for more than two rings before we answer the phone.

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  33. Hey, are you able to set up these numbers are high charge numbers. Like those stupid astrology services or whatever so its like "This call will cost you $100 a minute and will play recordings of the muppet. Please hang up now if you do not consent".

    Then basically rape them for massive bills.

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  34. Can you do this in the US for us as well?

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  35. Excellent. I've signed up recently with Plusnet but A&A was my second choice, I wish they had been my first after hearing this as part of their sterling work! I get far too many cold callers on my BT line and have my own answer phone message that kicks in after 10 seconds that has them held for 10-20 seconds. If only everyone could do this!

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  36. This is so great. Keep at it!

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  37. Notably, these companies are buying T lines, so you're not actually costing them any money or capacity when they put you on hold; they're paying by throughput, and hold costs no throughput. Their goal is to tie up your lines to punish you.

    In my opinion, the most effective thing you could do would be to alter your honeypot to trick them into more clearly stating their call origin, and then to begin to publish these in bulk. That way, there will be concrete evidence of the volume by which these companies are breaking the law, so that they cannot plead accident or ignorance.

    Particularly compelling is that second call, where the guy says "he's changed it." Clearly, that person *knew* that he was calling someone who did not want calls from him, someone he was not legally allowed to call.

    Another interesting tactic I've seen is to have calls from telemarketer 1 redirected to telemarketer 2.

    Finally, "I like to do things right" in your sidebar is incorrectly conjugated. Rightly, perhaps.

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  38. Hmmm. I like to do things right, with the possible exceptions of grammar and spelling on occasion.

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  39. I love the concept of this, however, x directory numbers (those that don't appear in the phone book) always come up as withheld on my mobile, and I would assume on everyone else's too. How do you intend to deal with that? I'm sure my family members that have x directory numbers don't want to have their number listed in the phone book just so they can get through to me and others...

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  40. Err, no. Ex-directory is nothing to do with withholding your number. They are totally independent. If you normally withhold you can release by prefixing 1470.

    However that is not really relevant as we are doing this on calls to unpublished and otherwise invalid numbers. When we do this for the new number block it will have a non charged message say it is not a valid number to call first as well.

    Customers selecting this on their own numbers obviously risk someone calling withheld, and the message does start by explaining it is for illegal telemarketers so as not to cause any problems.

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  41. If it's right that they are trying to tie up your lines, they could have broken s.36 of the Police and Justice Act 2006, on top of everything else. (This section is essentially a prohibition of DoS attacks.)

    This offence is much more serious than simply breaching the TPS; it can be tried in the Crown Court and has a ten year maximum sentence. (Is it actually an offence to breach the TPS, or is it just that the Information Commissioner can get a court order requiring you to desist in the future?)

    What you really want, though, is for the telemarketers to make a political demand—that junk calls should be legal, for example. The Terrorism Act 2000 is notoriously widely drawn: you don't have to set off a bomb. An act '...designed seriously to interfere with or seriously to disrupt an electronic system,' is sufficient. :-)

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  42. THE FAILURE TO DOWNLOAD THE MP3s ORIGINATES FROM THE COLON ":" CHARACTER IN THEIR NAMES. RENAME THIS FILES AND YOU ARE GOOD TO GO.

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  43. I'm going to vouch for the idea of connecting telemarketers to each other (that is, if the volume of telemarketers is high enough to allow for such shennanigans).

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  44. Is there a possibility of donating something to ensure you continue? I really abhor these phone calls, and I know it seems counter intuitive in the short term; however, as long as this sort of thing [making these unsolicited calls] can endure, it means those that think it's a business to make the calls - and indeed it's usually pressure sales which is another aspect which I find totally unacceptable, can start to find this type of sales tactic is no longer viable.

    I just hope you can manage to find a way to track them to enable you to prosecute the businesses responsible for it.

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  45. I dislike cold callers, I often play along to get as much info as possible before I end the call, I then pass this information on to office of the Information Commissioner (they have a form that you can save and prefill). You get a case reference for the complaint, and the ICO writes to the company reminding them. If you're called a second time, you complain again, but included the fact that you've complained before - now ICO can see that the telesales are ignoring the ICO, not good.

    What I'd like to see is a simple 1471 type system to track back these calls - if a telesales company withholds their number then they should be cut off, they could have caller id show a 0845 0844 0800 number.

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  46. Truly brilliant! I'd like to see the same thing here in the U.S.

    Thanks so much.

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  47. This is GENIUS. Pure GENIUS. You could finance this by making recorded calls available on your site, for entertainment. visitors could be inivted to donate. I'm sure renting all these lines isn't cheap!

    I detest these telemarketers so much, whare you're doing is great. I'm so glad The Register covered it, otherwise I would never have seen it.

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  48. I like the idea of conferencing the telemarketing phone calls. But lets take it a step further. Setup a webpage where internet users can take the call and allow others to listen in. Sell ad's to support the site.

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  49. Nice.

    Can I make a few suggestions?

    1) Route multiple spam callers together and have them talk to each other (perfect!)

    2) They may try and figure out how to ignore your numbers, can you instead of playing the same message over and over (which their operators will learn to listen out for), generate speech from a computer or audio clips to do the initial 'Hello'? That way they still need to listen further to figure out if its a dud call or not

    I really wish you'd do #2; and record the results of the two spam callers talking to each other!!

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  50. How many individual callers are there do you think, in your " collection"? Wouldn't it be fun to hook on some voice id software and tailor the recording to the caller? Think of the possibilities!

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  51. Neither of the MP3's will play, all I get is what sounds like a distorted cassette tape being "eaten" by the player.

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  52. @hegeraat reminds me of when I was a teen, I had my mail client set up to get mail every half hr. Anything that hit the spam box, would get an auto reply with "Remove, Unsubscribe" and a few other things. One spammer would auto reply to my auto reply. So they were getting 48 auto responses from me. They reported me to my isp, I got an e-mail from my isp that someone had complained about getting flooded. I explained to my isp what happened and they thanked me and added another company to the black list.

    Also where can I dl the blocked caller ID mp3 with out telemarketer's voice? I'd like to set up my Google Voice acct to auto send any blocked calls to the recording.

    I used to use TrapCall (used to be free) If you get a blocked call just fwd to the trap call # (an 800 #) it would fwd back to you with the caller id usually. I don't get enough calls for it to be worth paying for.

    When the National Do Not Call list started I signed up. I was getting many calls at the time from Miss Cleo (psychic hotline) and Sears Vinyl siding. The Do Not Call list has an exemption for Surveys, Politicians, and Non Profit Charities or something. None of the calls stopped, they just reworded to "would you like to take a quick survey?" I reported the Abuse of the Loop holes, and it stopped with in a few months.

    Would love to see every unassigned number worldwide set up as a honeypot, until someone figures out a better use.

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  53. I applaud your honeypot use of reserved numbers. Had I your resources, I might do the same.

    In the US, at least, you can get some relief on a private line by prepending SIT tones (three notes in somewhat-shy-of-an-octave, a signal that the call's gone wrong, usually followed by "We're sorry, but...") to your outgoing greeting message. In listening to the result (we screen calls this way), I'd say that:

    - Some autodialers immediately drop the line, presuming the call's gone wrong. Maybe they note the number in their tables as defective, which is a win.

    - Other autodialers, not attuned to SIT tones, trigger their recorded pitch, presuming that was the end-of-message beep; if their pitch is already partway through when your greeting ends, it's a safe bet you didn't need to hear it at all.

    - To normal callers who notice it at all, it's a source of amusement.

    SIT.WAV is out there, just Google it. It's simple enough to splice that and the outgoing speech together in an audio editor before feeding to an answering-machine.

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  54. Fabulous, absolutely fabulous! I am deeply impressed.. I shall choose to utilize SIT.WAV for a few of my lines, since that will help get a few of those calls away...
    My favorite one is when they call and ask for Mrs K, would be to respond, "Who's calling, please?". When they say who they are, I allow my voice to crack as I respond "She was murdered this morning as she was [going to Church/visit her mother, Taking kids to daycare, etc.) by [A speeding police car, Drunk Driver, gang banger, etc.]..".. My favorite one would be when the telemarketers called for a local "Police Charity" and I was able to use the "murdered by a reckless police officer" line.. A little verbal rage in my tone would probably help..
    The other option (US-only, I believe?) would be to hit the "STAR" key on your phone keypad as fast as you can for 5 seconds as soon as you detected the pause after saying "Hello"... That also registers as an invalid # (I've used it effectively numerous times).

    Of course, you can always say, "You have reached a business.. Place us on your Do Not Call List immediately" and they have to (at least in the US).

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  55. Sad to see you've actually spent time doing this, its nowhere near this bad in australia and the ACMA do actually take DNCR (do not call register) breaches seriously.

    Hopefully you get some kind of response in lower call volumes.

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  56. Thnk this honey pot is brilliant and will be experimenting with it on my aaisp account! Wondered if you could perhaps have an extra option for those of us that get lots of international and large organizations calling that had an audio capatchca style escape option - e.g. Explaning we are tryingto avoid junk calls, they have withheld their number and so we are Asking caller to key in sum of 2+2 ?

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  57. P.s. I have about 10,000 currently unallocated uk geo numbers I would be happy to add to your honeypot if you want to have 4,010,000 numbers waiting to serve the direct marketing industry!

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  58. I actually got a junk call while listening to this. Spooky. Well done for doing this. Clever idea.

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  59. If you have the time and inclination, may I also point everyone to "CounterScript" an A4 PDF document containing a script you can use to turn the tables on any telemarketer. I've used it from time to time with usually very funny results. http://www.xs4all.nl/~egbg/english/counterscript.pdf

    steve.

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  60. I did an FoI enquiry to the ICO to see what happens to TPS complaints. In brief - its subcontracted to representatives of the Telemarketing industry. If they get repeat complaints about the same caller they ask them to desist. If complaints continue they get a tougher message. No telemarketer has ever been fined (or imprisoned) for abuse of TPS.
    As filling in the complaints forms has no result but wastes more of my time than telling the caller to **** Off I stopped filling the forms.

    Blocking "Number withheld" callers has a problem, I need to respond to legitimate international non-English speaking. Also I've had CLI saying the callers numbers is a string of zeros so presumably they can fake CLI, possibly even to show a genuine number that's not theirs.
    Some sales calls are now originating from USA and India so even if TPS worked they'd be outside its juristriction.
    IMHO telcos should be required to provide ICO with CLI for number withheld if the complainant provides date time and recieving number.

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  61. Well done. I love messing with telemarketing companies. For some reason they won't stop calling me. I've asked them to stop, but they don't. I've posted some of my calls here:

    http://keepcallingme.blogspot.com/

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  62. Dammit, it sounds like these could be quite fun, but I can't get the audio to play on anything I try.
    Firefox, Chrome, mplayer etc... it's all totally garbled. mplayer shows it as
    Bitrate 24 kbps
    Rate 8000 Hz
    which doesn't look right at all. Any chance you could try re-encoding them, or let me know how I can hear them?

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  63. I just worked it out - your server appears to be serving the file as ascii, not binary. When I manually got the file with binary setting, it worked fine. You should be able to change this in .htaccess

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  64. Oooh, interesting. It should be saying content type audio/mpeg as the file type. HTTP has no "binary/text" setting other than the content type.

    In fact I have just tested and it does indeed say "Content-Type: audio/mpeg" which should do the trick.

    If you know some specific header that we should send, happy to investigate more.

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  65. @RevK - yes, I saw that too, so I can't figure it out. All I can tell you is when I downloaded it via the browser, it sounded garbled, but then I used NetXfer and forced binary mode, I could hear the audio. Might be something my end, and I don't know how to fix it, but that's what worked for me.
    Sorry to clog up your guest book, but now I've heard the recordings, that's one of the most genius things I've heard lately!

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  66. All comments welcome - if it was a simple fix in the file types that would have been great. Thanks for commenting.

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  67. I'm truly inspired - gonna implement this at work tomorrow!

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  68. Very entertaining article I enjoyed reading it.
    call recording

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  69. Nice one, ha! If anybody wants to contribute to a database of spam numbers that keep on calling people, you can do this on http://www.tellows.co.uk . It's a site where you can leave comments about spam calls and look up numbers if you had a missed call. Thanks for sharing!

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  70. A lot of companies are breaking the law, call recording appears to be strife within the industry and these companies just allow it.

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