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The Single Most Useful Contact on Your iPhone

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Like most adults living in America today, I get many phone calls. Some from my wife, my mom, my brother, my friends. But sometimes, I get phone calls from the local health club, the local car dealership or somebody trying to get me to buy 5 pounds of veal.

Unsolicited phone calls. We all hate them with a raw purple passion, but – if you have a phone – they’re almost as certain as death and taxes. It sucks, but that’s the freakin’ reality of the situation.

This little gem occurred to me just a few days ago. This past weekend, I’d taken our car into the local Toyota dealership for it’s oil change/tire rotation/etc. maintenance visit. It went very well, no hiccups or accidental scratches, none of that. Then, the following Monday morning, I got an email from them asking to take a short survey about my service experience. Took less than 2 minutes and I was happy to do it.

Then they called me. “Just wanted to ask you a few questions about your visit”, the polite man said. “Sorry, I don’t have time right now”, (and I wasn’t lying, I really was busy), “call me back tomorrow.” After I hung up, I quickly assessed whether it was worth adding this number to my address book. “Huh,” I thought, and then I saved it under a brand new contact called “Ignore”.

Seriously, everybody with a phone capable of storing multiple numbers for a single contact (especially you iPhone owners – since you can store an arbitrary number of phone numbers, not just ‘work’,'home’, and ‘mobile’) – create this contact right now. I’ll wait.

Now, the next time an undesirable calls you from a non-blocked number, just tell them you’re busy and to call back later. Then, add them to that “Ignore” contact. Presuming all of the outgoing calls from their call center are routed through a single number (which is typically the case), the next time they call, your phone will tell you exactly what to do.

I can hear you saying “well, why not just ask them not to call back?” – this works sometimes, but not always. And even though they’re required by law to not call you back (assuming it’s an unsolicited call from a complete stranger, which isn’t the case for my car dealership), we’ve all heard stories from people who’ve repeatedly asked to be “removed from the list” and still get those calls.

If you’re really savvy, you can ignore everything you’ve just read and sign up for GrandCentral (assuming you can get an invite).

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