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July 25, 2007

The Absurd Phone Call

Zachary found the reason why Google decided to discontinue click-to-call in Google Maps and sent this illustrative dialog.

Prankster goes to Google Maps and searches for Bob's Pizza. Then he clicks Click-to-Call and enters 987-654-3210.

Owner of 987-654-3210 [John] (picks up ringing phone): Hello? This is John.
Bob's Pizza: Hello, thank you for choosing your local Bob's Pizza, now offering free delivery. Would you like to place an order?
John: Um... excuse me?
Bob's Pizza (louder and clearer): Would you like to place an order for a pizza?
John: Er... who is this? I think you um ... have the wrong number ...
Bob's Pizza: You called Bob's Pizza. This is Bob's Pizza.
John: What... when did I call... huh... [mutters on]
Bob's Pizza: Sir, you called us not long ago. Please don't try to trick me and say that I called you. I have better things to do.
John: No really, you called me. My phone rang, and I heard your voice! You called me!
Bob's Pizza: You called me!
John: You called me!
Bob's Pizza: You called me!
John: You called me!
[call goes on for several minutes in a similar fashion]
Bob's Pizza
[angrily]: That's it, this is a total waste of time. [curses several times] I've had enough of you! Goodbye! [hangs up violently]
John: No! Wait! Really! [hears dial tone]
John [to self]
: Oh no... what is wrong with me... I don't drink... I must have gone mad! I need HELP!!! [runs out of house and checks self into rehab]


  1. That's funny, I never thought of doing that to someone. Man, I suppose I'm just not a jerk. It's good to have some confirmation from time to time

  2. I used to make Pizza Hut call Dominoes and then Dominoes call Pizza Hut.

  3. Hopefully, this feature will come back due to the GrandCentral merger, or possibly by linking it up with a number for your Checkout account. I loved this particular feature when I was apartment shopping.

  4. You can still do it, go to Freecall's free calling service and put the two numbers in. Note, however, calls are limited to 3-5 minutes.

  5. When I used Click to Call, after my phone rang, a recording said "connecting", or something along that line, and then the number was dialed and I heard the ring. It wasn't an instant connect with the company being called.

  6. I've thought about doing that but then realized that I would not hear the confusion and thus it wouldn't be funny.

  7. This is a simple problem to fix, when you put your number in, you get a call from Google that says "Thanks for using Google Click-to-Call, you requested Bob's Pizza, correct?"

    Yes dials the number, No redirects you to 1-800-GOOG-411.

    End of story.

  8. I just don't believe this ever happened! If it sounds and smells like an urban myth... It is an urban myth!

    Where's the recording? Who wrote the transcript of the phone call?

    It sounds like Google is holding the smoking gun.

    What's the real reason for dropping the functionality?

  9. I dont get it. Could someone explain this better? How do you get the two people to call each other without either of them dialing a number?

  10. I just wonder that, if the system is so full of mess then, when the calling facility comes on India, what a great comedy it would create in this wide and more than 1 billion population country.

  11. One of the first business I tried this feature on was actually a pizza place. When I got there, their caller ID showed Google, NOT my number.

    This was a great feature the few times I used it.

  12. That's not how it works. Your phone rings, you pick it up, and then it rings the phone of the other party. I imagine they discontinued the feature because of some other form of abuse.

    Maybe a little research before posting next time?

  13. There's a free calling service called iCall ( They also give you free call-in.

    Maybe there's some way to combine this service with Freecall and replicate this, and also allow you to HEAR the conversation.

  14. I haven't used the click-to-call function although I find it to be a really neat idea. Don't you have to register your phone with Google the first time you use the service though? It might be really easy with a cellphone, as they could have you enter a verification number that was sent to your phone via SMS or something, as a one-time activation (or each-time). I wouldn't mind the extra step each time, if it prevents abuse.

  15. ctrl, you did not have to have the number verified in any way to use click-to-call. But I think you're right, this form of abuse could have been easily defeated by requiring the user verify the phone number by entering a displayed PIN from the site when called by Google, which could then be tagged as verified in your Google account.

  16. yea i think that is a myth, I've used it before as well, and it DOES wait a brief moment then said "connecting".
    Second, how did he "accidentally" click on it and enter his phone in like he doesn't know whats going on..

    Hopefully Google isn't discontinuing it b/c they know its a product that could sell, or added some a package deal.. :\


  17. Yes this is easily resolved, and I am sure they will.
    Google knows people (consumers) will like this and thus if you like to use the service they can require you to register your own number first. Perhaps with a PIN or better Google account password, but then such that the customer has to dial the Google automated service, and not that Google initiate this registration call (to avoid the crank call vulnerability)

    BTW note the potential for Google to have your number and all the numbers you dial associated with your Google profile...

    In short this will come back and I strongly suspect it will be like I described above... it just fits with their whole strategy.

    When ... I suspect before June next year ;-)