GrandCentral Changes Your Telephone Number Without Consent

GrandCentral is informing select customers that their phone number will change on August 25. The feature-rich service recently acquired by Google bills itself as “one number for life,” which is then linked to your existing phone numbers – unless you are one of the unlucky few who: “have been assigned numbers that are not performing to our quality standards and are being replaced with higher quality services.” GrandCentral’s full email, inside.

We are sorry to inform you that your GrandCentral number (434) XXX-XXXX will need to be changed as of August 25, 2007. As part of our beta testing, we are continually evaluating different solutions and partners to create the best quality service possible. Unfortunately, a very small number of users have been assigned numbers that are not performing to our quality standards and are being replaced with higher quality services. To ease the transition to a new number, we have already added (434) YYY-YYYY as a replacement number to your account. Both of these numbers will ring your GrandCentral account until the 25th of August, at which point only the (434) YYY-YYYY number will remain active. Your login and everything else regarding your account will remain the same, including all your settings, voicemails, and contacts. If you have any questions or would like to request a different number, please reply to this email and we’ll do our best to accomodate you.

We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause and hope you continue to enjoy the GrandCentral service.

Sincerely,

Craig Walker & Vincent Paquet
GrandCentral Founders

Though Google took GrandCentral back into invite-only beta, many people rely on GrandCentral as their one true phone number the way that people rely on GMail as their one true email address. A one week transition window is pitifully short for a phone number, especially one meant to be distributed widely to friends, family, and colleagues.

We have recommended GrandCentral before, and we use it ourselves; but for Google to change user’s phone numbers without consent defeats the entire purpose of GrandCentral.

Comments

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  1. reykjavik says:

    I had GrandCentral for a week, got tons of spam calls and wrong number calls and canceled a few days later. Also, when you get a call, each time, a pre-recorded voice asks you what to do – I can’t think of anything more annoying than picking up a phone, saying “hello?” and having a recorded womans voice talking while you’re phone is ringing in the background.

    Grandcentral = Communism: Great concept, doesn’t quite work in real life.

  2. Charles Duffy says:

    @reykjavik: You can turn off the menu if you don’t want it.

  3. Charles Duffy says:

    @reykjavik: …and I’ve yet to get a single spam or wrong-number call via Grand Central (and I’ve been using them since January).

    As for me, I find the menu useful. There are people who have legitimate business reasons to get in touch with me but whom I frequently don’t want to talk with right away, so being able to send them to voicemail (and optionally listen in on that voicemail while it’s being left) is useful. Hard to determine whether I want that without the menu. Also, I sometimes answer calls from my home phone, which doesn’t have Caller ID; with Grand Central, I know who it is that’s calling anyhow.

    It may not work for you, but that’s not to say it isn’t a good idea.

  4. Xerloq says:

    GrandCentral has improved IMHO. I like the idea of white and black lists. I give my GC number to people I don’t necessarily want calling me. Important people still have direct access to my cell phone.

    Also, no one should be depending on a beta program.

  5. 5cents says:

    GrandCentral is an incredible service and certainly not analogous to communism. I use it myself and I would imagine one week is more than sufficient notice to get notice out to everyone that you have changed numbers. It’s just a change of number, it happened before when land lines and cell=phones and everyone kept up. Jeez.

    Finally, it is an incredibly poweful service that is free (I use it to make Canada/US calls for local prices for example). I can’t even see how their business is sustainable. In my book, that earns them a lot of leeway in what they can or cannot do before I get ticked off.

  6. fireshaper says:

    I was not one the “lucky” few who got that email. I use my GC number every day but it wouldn’t be that big of a problem to let people who I’ve told that it is changing. I’ve done it multiple times before with a cellphone.

  7. Folks… it’s a BETA… if you’re putting your “production-needs” phone number on a beta service then you are a fool.

    Beta implies that they think it’s working up to snuff, but certainly aren’t willing to commit to it, and significant downtimes or radical changes are all distinct possibilities.

    If you’re not willing to accept those sorts of conditions, you shouldn’t be using a “beta” of a product in the first place.

  8. ToruOhira says:

    This sounds like AT&T/Ma Bell behind the scenes messing with google. I bet they’re screwing up google’s service intentionally so that they can’t make a play in the field. Maybe it’s the same thing that is going on with Skype?

  9. notlazyjustdontcare says:

    Yeah! Those people whose numbers were changed should get a full refund! Oh wait.

  10. shiwsup says:

    @CHARLES DUFFY: really? HOW?

  11. zaq2g says:

    @shiwsup: If you are a GC user check out the features page at ([www.grandcentral.com]). If you have the incoming call menu activated, press 3 to listen in the the voicemail message. If you want to jump into the call while the caller is leaving a message press *.

  12. Charles Duffy says:

    @shiwsup: You mean what, how do you turn off the menu? Let me log into the settings and look…

    …hrm. Maybe when I was first poking around I misread the option to turn off call screening as turning off the menu.

    Okay, that’s an annoying lack of functionality — I’d at least like to be able to disable that for specific callers or groups.

  13. jstraw says:

    Here’s why they can’t turn off the screening…if its ringing multiple phones, the first to answer will get connected! Lame if my cell phone is out of juice or out of range, it will answer immediately everytime and then all my calls will be directly connected to my cellphone voicemail. Exactly what GrandCentral is trying to avoid.

    Also, Beta users shouldn’t be shocked with beta things…oh, I don’t know, such as testing quality with different settings, partners, etc. That email seemed pretty reasonable and at least you got ANY warning. More than the Sunrocket guys who got turned OFF. I’ve been a happy, make that ecstatic, user since February and I’ve never had a problem, never paid a dime, and didn’t receive or have any friends receive the email you mention. Maybe in this case it really did only affect a few people.:)

  14. mkrigsman says:

    I’ve blogged about the larger Enterprise 2.0 implications of this situation over at ZDNet:

    [blogs.zdnet.com]

    Take a look!

    Michael Krigsman
    [projectfailures.com]

  15. shiwsup says:

    @zaq2g: The incoming call menu is always on. There is no way to turn it off. And now I understand why…

    @jstraw: aha! I wish they would state this explicitly on their website.

  16. Buran says:

    @mkrigsman: Why can’t you just post it here?

    Oh, right. You want people to look at your ads. And push your stupid site.