Over the past few weeks, a variety of TV news affiliates from New York to LA to Florida have run a spot on their nightly news about phone privacy. It was a syndicated story (hence the similarities between the spots) and we were lucky enough to participate.
But two things get a little under my skin: the close comparison of Jangl and Private Phone, and, the scary warning that consumers should beware because "these companies share user data with their affiliates."
To us folks who live and breathe this stuff, it's funny (not like a clown) to see us and Private Phone in the same bucket because our solutions are completely and utterly different. In short, Private Phone generates a phone number which, when dialed, always goes into a Private Phone voice mail box that holds a total of 10 messages. Users can then call in to get those messages, or have them sent to e-mail. But when the Private Phone customer wants to actually return the call, the solution falls apart faster than you can say "Caller ID."
So let's say I use a similar service, and I'm selling my car. I give you, the prospective buyer, my number.
1. You call it.
2. You wait until I get around to checking my voicemail (after all, I now have yet another voicemail box to check).
3. I get your message and need to call you back. But I don't know how to block Caller ID from my mobile phone.
4. I look for my phone's instruction manual. I call my service provider for help.
5. You wait.
6. Frustrated, I finally call you.
7. You get my number.
8. Poof: no more private phone.
Of course, this doesn't address the other things that could happen. You could call me and -- alas -- my voicemail box is full. Or perhaps I get your voicemail via my email, and decide to respond that way, but we get into a long, convoluted email chain and wouldn't this just be easy to do this on the phone and. . .
We like simplicity. And control. And freedom. Around here, a Jangl number is dialed and it forwards to my real phone of choice, and it even uses my real voicemail. When I want to call the person back, I call them at the Jangl number and it forwards to their real phone number. Done deal.
To the point of both companies sharing user data with affiliates, I can only speak for Jangl. Affiliates in our case are our back-end telecom partners, which help operate the Jangl service. These are companies that make switches and routers and servers and all that stuff that makes the world go 'round today -- the stuff that is the backbone of every online and mobile service in the world.
Of course we share information with them -- we have to in order to make the service work. But that's a hell of a lot different than sharing people's phone numbers with affiliates for marketing purposes --something Jangl does not do. Period.
Just keeping it real.