November 19, 2006

Proposed Solution For Google's "Click-to-Call" Caller-ID Problem

Greetings. In a recent blog entry, I discussed my concerns about Google's new "Click-to-Call" service, especially key issues regarding Google's handling of caller-ID in this service.

Now I'd like to propose a specific solution.

I completely understand why Google likes their caller-ID feature. It's a cute hack (hack in the positive sense), and in the context of non-abusive use brings some value-added. But I really believe that this is one of those cases where somebody needed to get beyond the "gee-whiz isn't this nifty" factor and consider more carefully how it will be abused, particularly on the large free-access scale that Google provides. Even if the vast majority of the calls are legit, the absolute number of abuses is bound to be high, and it seems certain that innocents will be hurt in significant numbers -- there are a lot of jerks in the world who are going to take advantage of this service to get their jollies or take revenge on businesses that they have a gripe with, etc.

However, there is indeed a simple solution in this case. If the caller-ID delivered to both sides of the bridged calls is set to indicate the true source of the calls (i.e., Google) the problem goes away. In fact, caller-ID could be used to further enhance the service by providing a true full point of contact.

What I would do is set the caller-ID to display a Google phone number (ideally toll-free) that played a recorded announcement explaining that the call originated from Google Click-to-Call, and noting how to proceed (via a Web page, e-mail address, and/or specific phone number) if you felt that you were being targeted for abuse by a user of that system and wanted to file an associated report. This would be a win-win all around. Google would more rapidly get a handle on abusive users, and the service would be even more consumer friendly.

Sometimes there can be a happy ending!


Posted by Lauren at November 19, 2006 09:03 AM | Permalink
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