GrandCentral bug and the ultimate GrandCentral Hack

Hurry GrandCentral guys please fix this one ASAP!

I’m addicted to GrandCentral, the one-number service that rings all your phone numbers at once plus a whole lot more. I’ve got a bug to share with my fellow GrandCentral users and a few points that you might find helpful in using the service.

Don’t miss my GrandCentral call recording hack at the end of this post – you can use it to keep your service providers honest when you cancel their service and they later magically deny having heard from you.

First the bug

The problem comes if you disconnect one of your phone lines and forget to update GrandCentral. Like a lot of other GrandCentral users I typically have 3 to 4 phone lines hooked up to my GrandCentral line:

1) home
2) office
3) primary mobile
4) secondary mobile

My secondary mobile is the one that I use to evaluate mobile phone carriers and phones. It changes frequently. The other day I disconnected my latest trial phone with a Helio Fin (awesome features / boring as hell) and Helio Drift (fun as hell but missing a few things) and forgot to take the number out of Grandcentral.

The result? Complete failure.

No ringy dingy on any phone even though ALL my other lines were operational. If my friend and I hadn’t been IM’ing I would never have known. GrandCentral, please fix this. I recognize that people don’t all carry second cell phones and change them all the time but your GrandCentral users DO change their numbers – it’s a primary reason people want a SMART number platform like GrandCentral in the first place.

I’ve used one-numbers or SMART numbers for a long time. I still use Accessline as my drop-dead-reliable-one-number and so does IBM. Er, I guess that means I have two one-numbers which is kind of sad. But I’ll keep Accessline for the $20 a month I pay for it until GrandCentral is completely out of beta and 100% bug free. Then there’s the question of what Google will do to GC. Hmmmm, let me guess – text link ads everywhere on the web site and voice over ads when you call in to check messages. That will drive us to pay money for their service just to shut the ads off. No problem, I’m in!

And here’s why I’ll pay.

Three things I love that are unique about GrandCentral

  • Lets you transfer live calls to your other phones.  You need to walk out the door to a meeting or to get your kids and you’re no longer chained to your office phone. Never be late again. 🙂
  • Let’s you record in-bound phone calls for podcasting or the ultimate in note taking (don’t worry it tells your callers even if you forget to, saving you from an embarrassing trip to jail). I have a hack for this for outbound calls (see below)
  • Listen in to callers leaving you a voicemail with the ability to pick up and take the call at anytime. It’s like your ol’ mechanical answering machine from 1982 but without the fake wood grain and all the vagaries of microcasette tapes.

The outbound call recording hack for GrandCentral

aka AT&T/Sprint/Verizon/Comcast/Adelphia/Time Warner/DirecTV
YOU’VE BEEN P0wned

Now on to that hack for recording outbound calls. These instructions sound convoluted but they’re really not. If you can handle using two phones and a web browser then you can do this. The only requirement is that you have two phones and since you’re interested in GrandCentral this should be a no-brainer. These instructions assume you’ll make the outbound call from a land line at your home or office but it works with any combo.

  1. Login to GC web site and head over to settings
  2. Uncheck your land line phone from the list of active phones (you don’t need to delete it – just uncheck it so it won’t ring when someone calls your GC line)
  3. Now call your own GC number from the landline phone you just unchecked in your GC settings
  4. Your cell phone rings. (power user tip: put it on vibrate for a cheap thrill)
  5. Answer your cell phone, it is YOU after all. Now mute your cell phone.
  6. Now from your land line place a three-way call to the person/company you want to record. Don’t forget to join the calls – usually by hitting the TALK or CALL key again on your phone keypad.
  7. When you get your party on the line explain that you want to record the call. Then hit the 4 key on your cell phone (hitting 4 on an inbound GC call turns call recording on).
  8. Record away
  9. When you’re done you can simply hang up both of your phones or you can hit 4 again to turn call recording off. If you want to turn call recording on/off during the call just use 4 to toggle. Great when your client wants to trash their boss!

Since Google purchased GrandCentral they’ve demanded that GC avtivate an automated greeting when you turn call recording on to prevent untold litigation against the Googleplex. Smart move since call recording is illegal in some states when you don’t tell the other party you’re recording them.

about that jail thing… 

Now, I’m not suggesting that you do this, but for those of you in states where IT IS legal to record conversations WITHOUT telling the other party you can always turn call recording ON at your cell phone BEFORE you make your three-way call. The message about call recording will come on but since you haven’t dialed your other party they’ll never know. Now you three-way the person you want to call and record. Again, user-beware, check your own local, state and federal laws before considering this.

Keep in mind that the power in call recording really serves you BEST when everyone knows. It’s not just a question of staying on the right side of the law. For example when you turn on voice recording for note taking purposes both you and your other party relax. You both know that you won’t miss something important. I use this all the time with web site design so I can make sure I’ve nailed down all my action items. And if you’re podcasting it’s really easy to download the file from GrandCentral and then edit it in your favorite recorder.

Second, when you’re calling someone like a service provider to get help or cancel your service you WANT them to put their best foot forward. Call recording DOES that. If you cancel, you can rest assured that the customer service rep who has just heard a message saying that they’re being recorded WON’T “forget” to cancel your service. And if they’re bold enough to do so, or if they make an honest mistake, you have a record of your conversation.

No other smart number service has ever had this much power. It’s no surprise that Google bought them. Keep up the good work GrandCentral.

p.s. If you need a beta invite I’ve horded a few.

[tags]Grandcentral smart-number, one-number, call-recording[/tags]

6 Replies to “GrandCentral bug and the ultimate GrandCentral Hack”

  1. hey man sounds like a great service, i would really appreciate if you can spare an invitation, thanks in advance

    1. Hi Abhi,

      Unfortunately Google has not given out any invites for Google Voice to existing GrandCentral users like me.

      As I understand it from reading their announcement page here Google plans to launch to everyone in a ‘matter of weeks.’ You can sign up to receive an email notification from Google Voice when they open up Google Voice for everyone.

      And yes, Google Voice’s added features are extremely useful and amazing.

  2. Hey Julian:
    Very interesting article on GC. Can you please send me an invite to Sign up for GC if you recently got any more invites.Thanks Much

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