A cautionary note about Google’s “number for life”

google voice bad sms.jpg

To be fair, I guess Grandcentral ,when they advertised “one number for life”, didn’t specify whose life.

After waiting impatiently nearly two weeks for my Grandcentral account to upgrade to Google Voice – I was a bit surprised to wake up to an email advising me that if I wanted to keep my old Grandcentral number that I’d have to forgo any SMS forwarding features (the MAJOR new feature of Google Voice). Say what? I thought I had my Grandcentral number “for life”?

Turns out there’s some type of glitch in upgrading the old Grandcentral accounts to Google Voice. Here’s the email that landed in my inbox this morning:

Date: Wed, Mar 25, 2009 at 12:04 AM
Subject: Your GrandCentral number
To: wayne

Hello wayne

We’re happy to announce that your GrandCentral account can now be upgraded to Google Voice. In addition to the great GrandCentral features you already know, Google Voice gives you free transcription of all your voicemail, conference calling, and more. You can also use your Google Voice account to make low cost international calls and free calls to anywhere in the United States.

Unfortunately, there is a group of about 891 phone numbers for which we are not able to enable the new SMS feature. Your phone numbers is one of these that won’t support SMS, so we would like to offer you two upgrade options:

1. You can upgrade your current GrandCentral number to Google Voice. You will get all new Google Voice features, except SMS.

2. You can select a brand new Google Voice number that will support SMS. You can also keep your existing GrandCentral number working for the next 3 months while you tell people your new number, and you can still check voicemails to that number in your GrandCentral account.

Let us know which option you prefer here and we will upgrade your account accordingly.


The Google Voice Team

If I want, Google will be happy to let me keep the old Grandcentral number. I just won’t be able to use SMS message forwarding on any of the lines that it rings to.

So much for the concept of number “for life”.

Which brings me to my original question that I asked.

What happens when we all wake up, after adopting one number for life – aka Google Voice, to an email that perhaps notifies us that in 3 months Google will be charging for all of our voice calls?

A few things that are worth thinking about before widely distributing a Google Voice phone number to your “serious” contacts such as the kids schools and doctors.

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About the Author

Wayne Schulz
Wayne is a diehard Android user and consultant specializing in Sage 100 ERP Accounting Software. He lives in Glastonbury CT with his two children. When not helping them with their homework or pushing the latest school fundraiser off on his co-workers, he is active hiking and investigating all manner of technology.

2 Comments on "A cautionary note about Google’s “number for life”"

  1. Hey Wayne,
    Interesting. I upgraded today, and didn’t see any of the above. I clicked upgrade on my Grand Central page and it instantly took me to a Google Voice page. At this point I used my standard Google log in and I was up and running. I even tested SMS and it worked. All in under 3 or so minutes. Could it really be number and/or exchange restrictions on those numbers? Sounds stupid but maybe it does have to do with the number. Makes no sense but maybe???!?!
    I do get the feeling this will eventually end up a paid service.

  2. To be fair, it was a phone number not SMS that was promised for life. While I understand your disappointment for not getting a new feature, you still have your number and the same level of service originally promised.
    Also Google states you can take your number to other providers.

Comments are closed.