No, this isn’t about data loss, the obvious danger of using anything with “beta” stamped on it.
I love GrandCentral. When we left Vonage, I was able to get a phone number in the same area code as the C3 office that followed me wherever I went. After a bit of quiet testing, I felt confident in putting my GrandCentral number on my business cards. I believed the company had something special and would be in it for the long haul. I wasn’t entirely surprised or concerned when the company sold out to Google, either.
My heart lurched when I saw this subject line sitting in my inbox a few minutes ago:
Important update – Change to your GrandCentral number
Oh no, no, no I thought as I clicked on the message. Please let it not be what I think it is. Yup, it was.
Dear Judi Sohn,
We are sorry to inform you that your GrandCentral number (703) 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 (703) 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 (703) 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.
Craig Walker & Vincent Paquet
“One number for life.” Not so much, huh?
I appreciate that Google is working hard on the quality of the service. I really do. I knew what I was doing when I put such faith in a beta service, but then again how long has Gmail been in beta? How would you feel if Google changed your email address on you, beta or not?
I replied that I didn’t like the replacement number they assigned. I also asked if there is any way that I can have more than a week to transition. I can change the voicemail message to let people know that the number is changing as of August 25th, but then I also have to let anyone who calls know of the change. And I have to get new cards. Again.
My other complaint is that there is absolutely no indication of this when I log in to my GrandCentral admin page. This new number doesn’t appear anywhere, nor does this note they sent me. If for any reason I didn’t receive the email, I’d have no clue until my number stopped working on August 25.
Unfortunately, I don’t know of another way to get a cheap (free) phone number in the 703 area code that can follow me to my actual phone number in the 609 area code the way GrandCentral can. Certainly not without putting my faith in another “beta” startup.
Update: GrandCentral support replied with a choice of 3 alternate numbers to choose from. In addition to another apology, they offered to pay for the expense of reprinting my business cards. That was nice of them.
Update 2: GrandCentral’s blog is updated with details on what happened. Craig and Vincent have gone out of their way to make this as painless as they could. I only wish I had more than a few days to transition. I have to wonder what was special about my number and the 433 others that it couldn’t port as planned. Worst comes to worst, folks will call the C3 main office and my voicemail there has the new number.
Honestly, I’m not suicidal over this. Annoyed? Sure. This is a crazy week for me and it’s one more thing to do that I didn’t need to deal with. But I knew what “beta” meant when I signed up and started giving the number out, and that I was taking a risk putting faith in a startup. How are you supposed to “beta test” a phone number without giving it out anyway? In the end, I’m happier with the new number (easier to remember) and I hope that this one sticks around longer.