So, one of my pet peeves is uninvited/unwelcome people that feel they have the right to intrude into the solitude of our home via the telephone line.
Caller ID was a big help in this regard. Since Joyce and I are pretty much connected to our cell phones almost everyone of our friends and contacts use our mobile devices to reach us. We still maintain the age old land line, perhaps an anachronism, but nevertheless, we do. It may be the E911 thing, or some safety issue like that. We don't answer the phone unless the caller is someone we want to talk to. HOWEVER, we have to go to the phone and look at the Caller ID to make this determination.
Anyway, the point of this post is GOOGLE VOICE. This is one terrific service - and FREE from Google. It's still only available in Beta format and on a limited invitation basis. There are a number of aspects to this service - it gives you a telephone number (in your area if you wish), You can access the system by calling your GV number, giving your password, and then you are able to call anywhere in the US with no long distance charges. You also get voice mail and can connect as many phones (mobile, home, office, etc.) to this account. When a call comes in to your GV number, it will ring all of your connected phones. The first one to be answered gets the call. You can screen incoming calls to decide if you want to take the call or send it to voice mail. AND, the voice mails can be sent to your email box as a sound file attachment and you can get a transcription of the call too.
What I did with this is fantastic. At no additional charge, my local telephone (land line) service lets me forward my calls to another number AND I can get a distinctive ring number for my home. So, I forward my home phone number to my GV number. GV can screen and route calls based on Caller ID. If the call is from one of our legitimate callers (like my sister-in-law) then I forward it to the home phone distinctive ring number, my wifes mobile and my mobile. If the call is from anyone not on the preferred caller list, I send the call directly to voice mail. The net result of this is that unless a caller is one of a very few desired callers - all calls go to voice mail and our home phones almost NEVER RING!
Also, for the callers that I identify from the logs as being solicitors, I can customize a voice mail 'greeting' for them or just send them to a 'dead letter drop'.