It is becoming more and more clear that wasting the time of the "robo-solicitors" does, in fact, cost them. They work on percentages and any time they waste on a call that does not produce is time they cannot use fishing for those that do. Most of the time I simply hang-up because I am doing something more important, but there are times when I have nothing better to do than to fuck with them. It is kind of a game for me - I am shooting for one or both of two things - maximum time wastage and/or maximum irritation. When I "press 1 to speak with a representative," it is game-on.
How do I know they value their time? Because they are getting better and better at detecting people like me. We are not potential marks, we are not simply uninterested, we are aggressively disrupting their activity and, in the process, increasing their costs. Each minute taken might not amount to much, but together it adds up. They are starting to detect the tone in my voice, maybe they know I have put them on speaker (and I have, when the opportunity has presented itself, shared the call with my entire class - when the solicitors find that out it really pisses them off) or are using other "tells" that indicate this call will not pan out.
To that end, when I plan to engage, I will have to change my tactics. The big pay-off is two-fold. I have wasted a significant amount of their time (my record is around 15 minutes) combined with the "representative" getting so angry that he (usually) resorts to a heavily accented tirade laced with heavily accented cuss words. The icing on the cake is when my laughing on the other end fuels that fire, thus taking even more time.
Granted, the easiest thing to do is just hang up. Hitting whatever number for the "do not call list" does nothing. But if recent hang-ups on their end are any indication, I have, in fact, taken more from them than they will ever get from me. I have taken their time and, if I do it well, I have also taken their peace. And when my laughter is joined by a chorus of college students... it just doesn't get any better than that.