I’m SO EXCITED to announce a new service from Jolly Roger Telephone that will AUTOMATICALLY protect your mobile phones! I’m calling it Pirate Voicemail for now.
IMPORTANT UPDATE: Do I have to mention that messaging and voice rates may apply? Your mobile carrier will probably charge you for the call to 206-259-4950. If you do not have a plan with unlimited minutes, then do not use this service! Also, Pirate Voicemail will send you a text when it gets a real person, so don’t use it if you have to pay for messages!
The instructions below will tell you how to use this service. This is brand new and probably for the hard-core shakedown crew only. If you want to be on my shake-down crew, I’d love some help testing this. But please read all of this, especially the disclaimer at the bottom!
This is how it works:
Pirate Voicemail REPLACES your current mobile phone’s voicemail. So this gets tricky and it’s important you understand how it works. To activate it, you type in a code in your phone (I can support AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, T-Mobile and all MVNOs using those services. Is there anyone else?) The code will set your phone to forward to 206-259-4950 if you don’t answer or if you reject a caller. So when you don’t answer your phone or don’t recognize the caller, the call will come to me. This is where Jolly Roger Telephone takes over. This is how I will handle the call:
- If it’s a telemarketer (according to my lookup with trueCNAM), I will answer with a bot (and send you the recording of course)
- If I don’t know if it’s a telemarketer, I will answer with a pleasant greeting asking the caller to prove they are human by pressing 1. If they don’t press 1, they are encouraged to leave a message.
- If they do press 1, then I will text you to let you know that caller was human. At the same time, I’ll tell that person I texted you, and ask them to call back, and you might answer the second time. They can leave a message here too. Once a caller proves they are human, I never challenge them again – future calls are simply sent to a voicemail greeting.
- Each caller will be challenged THREE TIMES (and warned). After three unresponsive calls, I will answer with a robot from then on.
- Note: Anonymous callers will always be challenged. When they press 1, you’ll get a text so you’ll know to answer when they call right back.
Please note that all telemarketers use predictive dialers (these are the machines that try to detect if you are a human). All predictive dialers will stop at step 2 because they think they have reached an answering machine. Almost all predictive dialers will throw your number back into the queue and will eventually call you back. They cannot help it, and they cannot ever stop. So eventually they will trigger step 4 and will get a Jolly Roger Bot, which will then engage the telemarketer and it will be extremely entertaining for you.
After EVERY call, you’ll get an email to tell you what the caller did or didn’t do. More importantly, there will be links so you can tell me what to do the next time that caller calls.
So next time you get a call from an unrecognized number, you can ignore/reject it and Jolly Roger will *professionally* handle your legitimate callers, or *unprofessionally* handle your telemarketers. It should work well for you small-business owners who get tons of calls on your mobile phones.
This is new. Naturally, I try to write bug-free code. I’m pretty confident that I will not deliver your voicemail to the wrong place. I’ve handled over 400,000 calls so far and never mis-delivered a recording. And I’m pretty confident that I won’t answer with a bot when it’s not appropriate. My vendor, trueCNAM is really good about being cautious about their scores. But there may be various problems with the emails. You would be surprised how complicated this got. There are 25 possible “states” for the caller and I had to craft an email for each one. My servers could crash. Godaddy might flag me as a spammer. My telephone carrier may think I’m a text spammer and block my texts. The texting thing could get really expensive. Hopefully your $6/year will cover it.
No more “visual voicemail” from your carrier. I just email the recordings of your voicemail. Maybe someone wants to help me with a smartphone app that will provide a visual voicemail interface. Or perhaps someone can turn me on to a voicemail transcription service? Cheap.
Your voicemails will be emailed to you un-encrypted over the internet. If you get confidential or urgent messages, then please do not use this yet. If you listen to the voicemail greeting, you’ll hear me tell the caller that I’m just going to deliver via email. Maybe this isn’t a big deal. There are TONS of voicemail systems that do the same thing and none of those make it obvious.
This service is perfect for the young kids or elderly who don’t really use voicemail. If you are the parent of tweens or the children of the elderly, then you can get these emails sent to you. My kids have never bothered to record a voicemail greeting, so this is perfect for them. And the elderly get tons of medicare scammers calling, so you’ll hear these scammers speaking with bots that they think are your parents.
I’m working on a way to provide a VCARD (emailed and texted) so you can accept a pre-built contact for known humans. Some of you will probably want to record your own voicemail greeting too. But there are several recordings to deal with so that will get complicated too. Bulk whitelisting is another. And after a while you’ll probably want to see your whitelist and blacklist so I need a way to provide that too. Once we all use this for a while, we’ll come up with our own wish list. Please send that to me.
This service is available to ALL active Jolly Roger subscribers – Deep Six, Cannon Shot, and Summon a Pirate. I hope that it will replace Summon a Pirate and I’ll convert everyone over to Deep Six. This is probably NOT for the Google Voice users out there. I’m pretty happy with my existing Google Voice product.
If you are a subscriber of Jolly Roger Telephone, you should be able to use this. If you have any problems, please email me at email@example.com. That will generate a ticket so I won’t forget to handle it. If you don’t like it, feel free to tell me why. I can probably fix it, but there are limits to the integration with mobile phones.
Ready to try it?
Here are the codes to activate/deactivate the Pirate Voicemail on your mobile phone:
- If you have AT&T, TMobile, or use an MVNO of these, dial **004*12062594950# to enable it. Dial ##004# to cancel it and go back to your regular voicemail.
- If you have Verizon or an MVNO of Verizon, dial *712062594950 to enable it. Dial *73 to cancel it and go back to your regular voicemail.
- If you have Sprint or an MVNO of Sprint, dial *282062594950 to enable it. Dial *38 to cancel it and go back to your regular voicemail.
- If you have Cricket, I think you dial *742062594950 to enable it. Dial *740 to cancel it and go back to your regular voicemail. Maybe a Cricket user can verify this for me?
Immediately after enabling it, please call your mobile from a different phone and let the call last at least 6 seconds. When the call is over, you should get an email from me describing what I saw. If you do NOT get the email, then cancel this service and contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org to let me know that it failed.
Thank you everyone! This is my biggest announcement yet!
I’m IN on this. Old manual way was too clunky, hope this will work better.
Thanks for what you do.
Question about predictive dialers that ask you to press 1 to speak with a representative after you’ve answered their call. How will it work with those?
My bots are pretty good at detecting those. They often press 1 at the right place. Of course, they fail a lot too…
Did not know that! That’s awesome, I will have to try that next time. I usually wait until they ask to press “1” then I do, and transfer over to JR. I sometimes lose them in that process, so I will try transferring right away from now on.
Another question, let’s say the call goes to VM and JR ends up talking for 10 minutes. What happens to the line during that time? Are other calls allowed to come through?
Awesome. The announcement I’ve been waiting for.
What a clever workaround – voicemail. =)
Just rings and rings and rings. Even if I dial the 206 number directly.
Oh, you have to be a subscriber. Email me at email@example.com and let’s get you set up!
Here’s an idea… maybe you could setup some sort of call forwarding to send the call back to the carrier voicemail of the caller is identified as not spam?
I like the features that come with my voicemail from Verizon, but I’d love to add the Jolly Roger bots to mess with unwanted callers.
Yes, I wish the mobile carriers would just support simultaneous ring – that would be a better and less intrusive fix.
I don’t know of a way to forward the call back to your voicemail. And that part of the connection would cost me per minute. The way it is now, your unlimited calling plan is covering the connection cost. it’s a trade-off until I can provide a better voicemail experience for you.
I have managed to forward calls back AT&T voicemail. What you need to do is find the voicemail forwarding number (check call forwarding settings) and send the call there with the RDNIS or SIP Diversion: header set to the mobile phone’s number.
Oh thanks Andrew. I have to use my own carrier for that second call though, right? I cannot figure out how to do this without paying for the second leg.
Also, won’t it re-ring the subscriber’s mobile and then come back to me?
I like this. One issue I see. I have a caller set for you to ignore. However, I can’t answer the call. The call is still challenged. I would rather this call go to voicemail. Yours, mine, or ours.
I’m signed up for the beta test. Thanks for this update!
Future enhancement to save you money – the ability to disable text messages.
I leave my phone on and have great reception, so calls rarely go straight to voicemail. I get push notifications for my email. So, I really don’t need the additional text message.
paid member. phone just rings and rings
Today the JR VM doesnt seem to be working. I am resetting my phone to my original VM settings and will retry JR VM later on. Is anyone else having trouble? It just rings and rings before finally getting a double-busy.
I found your site via the NY Times article that s friend posted on Twitter. I watched the TED talk and am very interested in your products. I am a senior who is being harassed with telemarketing calls on landline phone day and night. I am also getting numerous calls on my cell which is a Sprint IPhone. I will participate in your beta testing if you still need participants.
It looks like I enroll in your landline coverage first. Is that correct?
That’s right. I’ll send you an email…
I’m interested in being in a beta test for on android phones. Is there any way I can help with that? I get most of my telemarketer calls during the day at work.
Sure – give it a shot if you’d like. The service is stable. If it works right away, then it should be fine.
I currently use republic wireless due to their great rates. Would that work for this? It does use VoIP when connected to WiFi.
Roger I’m interested. I understand how to forward my call to you on AT&T. What else do I need to do? Like linking my cell # to my account, etc.
Yeah – as long as we have your mobile number, then we should be able to handle your calls. Just set conditional forwarding and Jolly Roger Telephone will be your voicemail provider. If it doesn’t work right away, then cancel the forwarding and let us know!
I’d love to use this, but I just found out that the AT&T MVNO “H2O Mobile” doesn’t support CCF for voicemail, it comes back with an error code when you try and send the service code to change the CCF number. At least I have the SimRing set up with Google Voice, so when I give out that number I’m covered.
I’m on iPhone Verizon CA SF. Let me know if I can help
I’m on iPhone Verizon CA SF.
Is there a way to automate this so I don’t have to stay in the phone
Yes, this service described here is fully automatic. It’s still in beta, but it’s working fine so far.
Are there any plans to customize the bots? It seems like eventually these selfish scammers will hear enough of them- i’d imagine their call centers will eventually play back recordings during meetings so more of them become familiar with what a bot sounds like. If we were able to customize the bots to make them different, it might help that. The obvious way to customize, just be able to record your own messages that get triggered at the right times. One other way might be to be able to change the timing- how quickly or slowly the bot it likely to respond, and other variables to change the “personality”. It’s possible to speed up or slow down vocals without affecting pitch, maybe that’s another way to customize it. You’ve done so much already, and this all sounds simple but i’m sure it’s much more complex to program.. Thanks for making this service- i’m shocked that it’s not a viral phenomena- everyone hates spam calls, and this is the sort of thing, the only sort of thing, that can make them stop, since it’s cutting into their bottom line,
Them recognizing the bots might be a good thing. It does them no good to call a number that doesn’t have a human on the other end. Recognizing the bots would result in them complaining to their “dialer guy” to remove our numbers.
Would this mean that the company’s would simply hang up when they hear a bot? Seems like that would be a huge gamble. Even if the company was 100% confident and hung up, what would their next move be? Maybe they would keep calling until you fail to connect them to the bot? Well, the automated service will eventually prevent that.
Maybe they learn which numbers always have bots and stop calling them? That seems like a pretty good victory! The best they can do, is learn which numbers use automated bots and try again in six month to see if the user renewed the subscription. This would make the product incredibly effective at preventing these calls and certainly worth paying for.
Maybe they eventually find a workaround for the automated bot, creating an arms race of sorts. But even when they can get around the automated, we can fall back on the manual method until a patch is implemented.
I think you want to put these callers out of business. I’m all for trying, but is it realistic? There might be some people out there who will always be willing to buy from these companies. What I like about this product is that it provides a sharp sword, but it also includes a very strong shield.
I found it to be easier in the long run to simply port my cell number to Google Voice, then request a new number from my carrier, then forward my original cell number (now at Google) to the new cell number. Now set up simultaneous ringing as described in the Landlubber package with Google Voice. Incoming calls will be filtered through the Jolly Roger service this way. Your outgoing calls will have your new cell number, though, so this will probably force your friendly callers to update their contacts to include your new number. If you wanted to, you could use the Google Voice app and automatically make your outgoing calls go out from your old number, but this might cause overruns for some data plans.
This also wouldn’t fly on a company phone, or for any phone number the user doesn’t own. Also porting the numbers involves a small one-time charge, but it is worth it.
If someone wanted to do this with their existing VoIP or POTS number, they would likely have to juggle and hop through a company that parks phone numbers, or of purchasing a cheap disposable phone to use as an intermediary. I won’t bore anyone with the spaghetti for every possibility, suffice it to say that it is a few easy steps that anyone can do, and it is inexpensive (should be well under $50 including the best component – fully automated Jolly Roger service) .
Just signed up for a subscription, can’t wait to try this out! So excited!!
Hi Roger, I sent you an email earlier today at the support@… address. My question is: can this service be used on plain “dumb” mobile phone (Nokia 5130). It’s with T-Mobile, and if the service is compatible with the phone, I can be a beta-tester, too. Please let me know… Thanks & Happy Thanksgiving!
Looking forward to the beta. I have a pay as you go att. Will it still work?
Oh – I don’t know if you can set conditional forwarding on a pay-as-you-go. We just replace your voicemail, so I suppose it would work. But I would hate to risk additional charges.
I have Ting, an MNVO that charges per minute. I currently use Google Voice as my voicemail (I set it to call forward on no-answer and unavailable to my google voice number). I do pay per minute that people are talking to my voicemail.
But the recordings are funny. it might be worth it! =D
FWIW, years ago I had T-Mobile pre-pay and they didn’t let me setup conditional call forwarding. And with Ting I can’t use dial codes like you show above, I have to configure it via their website.
Yes you can – just look up “Forwarding calls when busy” followed by the carrier (AT&T, VZW, Tmobile, Sprint…. So for Cricket – AT&T, MetroPCS – Sprint, etc etc).
All of the carriers support this by default and you can easily override it. For Verizon, it’s *73 (followed by the number)
I would love to be a beta tester!
Unfortunately, Google Project Fi is not supported.
Oh! With Google Fi, you can use the simultaneous ring feature just like the Google Voice support here: http://www.jollyrogertelco.com/google-voice
We have lots of people using Google Fi and it works really well. The best part is the “press * to joina bot into an active call” feature. None of the other integration works this well.
I hope you’ll try it!
“Press * to join a bot into an active call” doesn’t seem to be documented on the link you provided nor in the FAQ.
But I understand how it works. That’s clever!!
I am still a little confused as a NEWBIE to this service. Is it OK to simultaneously ring VOIP numbers and cell phone numbers together?
Do you still need Beta Testers?
If I already have our 3 voice lines set up to go to a pirate with our account, I can’t add my mobile, righr?
I’ve been actively using this for a while now and it is working very well
how do you handle automatic calls to confirm appointment like doctors where we are prompted to hit a number to confirm an appointment?