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The Usability Blog
A Practical Guide to User Experience Insights

My carrier is looking out for me

Ring, ring.

I looked at my phone to see who was calling but didn’t recognize the number. Do I answer it?, I asked myself.

Ring, ring.

No, I’m not answering. Whoever it is can leave a message.

Ring, ring.

Maybe I should answer, maybe it’s important.

Ring, ring.

Okay, I’ll chance it. But it better not be a tele-marketer…

“Hello.” Well, shoot, it’s one of those annoying pre-recorded messages. I knew better than to answer.

Click, cut to dial tone.

Sound familiar?

A phone's warning of a suspected spam callThankfully, U.S. carriers are beginning to take a stand against scam calls and robocalling. Just last week, I received a call that came in as ‘Suspected spam’. Not having signed up for this type of service, I was a little surprised…but it was a pleasant surprise! After doing a little research, I found out that my carrier, T-Mobile, is rolling out a feature that notifies subscribers when an incoming call is likely to be a scam call.

I’m not going to attempt to explain how they identify a number as one being associated with scams or frauds because, well, frankly I don’t care how they do it. I only care that they do it. And the best part was, they did it without me having to take any action. They anticipated, correctly, that I, along with other subscribers, would appreciate this feature. For me, this is a sign that maybe, just maybe, they are looking out for me. And I like that!

I know other carriers are offering similar services; I don’t know if their subscribers have to actively enable this feature or if the carriers automatically ‘enroll’ them. But really, who wouldn’t want to be pre-warned of a potential robocall? If they aren’t actively enrolling their subscribers, perhaps they should.

T-Mobile has another feature where they automatically block all calls tagged as likely to be scam, prohibiting these calls from getting through. For this, the subscriber has to actively opt-in, it is not automatically turned on. I understand the reasoning behind this: there’s low risk in just marking the calls as possible spam, but there’s a higher risk of upsetting the customer in deciding to block some of their calls. But you can bet I’m turning that feature on…right now!

-Maura Thomson, User Experience Specialist, Usability Sciences


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