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Why Do Americans Block Calls? WhitePages Explains

April 17, 2014

It's happened to most Americans out there, especially those who focus on mobile phones. More specifically, we're talking about blocking certain callers from reaching our phones. But in considering why calls get blocked, it turns out there is a fairly wide variety of reasons just why the calls get blocked, and a recent study from WhitePages offers a note of explanation as to why Americans are turning to the call-block feature.

The WhitePages survey in question, titled “Consumer Call Blocking,” focused on 1,001 different smartphone users in the United States. It takes a look at the key reasons that Americans reach for those call block features, and many of the reasons make quite a bit of sense. The biggest reason that Americans will block a call is because the call in question comes from an unknown number. That happens about 60 percent of the time, and many interpret that unknown number as someone trying to engage in some practice beneficial only to the caller, like a scam operation or a spam text.

But there are another 20 percent of calls that will be blocked because the person on the other end has a much more intimate connection, generally that of an ex. Meanwhile, 15 percent of calls are blocked from friends or former friends. Eight percent of callers have actually blocked a call from friends or family in order to avoid discussing something particularly sensitive related to the family itself.

For those that put call blocking features to work, 65 percent say it's because talking to telemarketers is a practice that's undesirable at best. There's also plenty of overlap among reasons, with 44 percent out to avoid spam, 26 percent looking to dodge prank calls, 21 percent still getting calls for the previous owner of a phone number, and 20 percent doing so to avoid the need to change a phone number. Even just getting a bit of time back in the day has come into play, with 14 percent blocking calls just because there wasn't time at the time to talk to the caller.

But perhaps most interesting is that the percentages of users who have used a call-blocking feature are actually comparatively small. Just 22 percent of respondents have actually turned to call blocking mechanisms in the first place, meaning that those percentages are basically working on a pool of about 200 users.

What's particularly interesting about this survey is that there are plenty of reasons to block calls, but there are also a huge number of users who see no need at all to block calls. That by itself would have made for an interesting study; seeing why users who don't use call blocking features don't do so would have made for some eye-opening information. If the biggest answer is a lack of awareness, then that's a serious opportunity for upselling on the part of mobile providers or for selling in the first place from app makers. Failing to seize an opportunity to upsell or to sell can be disastrous, particularly in this day and age, so tapping an untapped market may be a great move ahead for some.

Still, it may be a bit of good news that comparatively few feel the need for call blocking mechanisms, as said users may feel unmolested by telemarketers and the like in a normal day. Possibilities abound here, though, so a new market may be just a little extra market research away.

Edited by Rory J. Thompson

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