sorabji.com: The Payphone Project: 958
By Sorabji on Friday, December 26, 1997 - 12:53 am:
    i discovered some things today about the technique of dialing "958" to divine the number of the phone you are calling from.

    1) here in new york city, this only works on NYNEX/Bell Atlantic payphones, and fails on all cocots.

    2) Dialing 958 almost never works on the first try, and only occasionally works on the second try; it usually takes until the third or even fourth try to get any results. on the first try the sound of the roboton bitching the number of the phone is almost inaudible, and not simply because of the general street noises. it simply can barely be heard. this is true of payphones, not residential phones, where dialing 958 returns (audibly) the number you are calling from immediately.

    3) as i've always suspected, the hand-written numbers you see jammed into those little compartments are not always accurate (if the voice of 958 is to be believed).

    4) of course, few NYC Bell-Atlantic/NYNEX payphones accept incoming calls, and virtually no NYC cocots do incoming calls.

    5) i've not tried the technique of dialing 0 and asking the operator what number i am calling from.

By R.C. on Friday, December 26, 1997 - 10:30 am:

    What are cocots?

By Jeffrey Scott Holland on Friday, December 26, 1997 - 11:52 am:
    COCOTs are "fake" pay phones that are unfortunately growing more and more common. They're those oddball phones which don't look right, they either have no normal telephone company logos or they have no logo at all.

    COCOT phones are owned and operated by private individuals rather than Ma Bell. Usually they're more expensive, less reliable, have weird malfunctioning robot operators, and are just about useless for our purposes.

By Dr. Sang Froid on Friday, December 26, 1997 - 05:54 pm:
    my brain is slowly being eaten by rare tropical worms I picked up in Central America.

By R.C. on Friday, December 26, 1997 - 07:57 pm:
    So anyway...

    I spent my afternoon in search of phones/that I might gain an entry into the Payphone Project demimonde. Here's what I discovered while out on my mission:

    There are not nearly enough payphones in downtown Sarasota. I mean/sure it's a small city -- any city with a "Main St." must/by default/
    have a limited population. (To the best of my knowledge/Manhattan has no Main St.) But I was on Main St./in the heart of the business district/& there were only 2 payphones on the street for a distance of 6 blocks (& these are short blocks/not quarter-mile-long NYC blocks). And both of them were cocots!

    One was across the street from my former place of employment. But it was broken -- no dialtone.
    The other was a block farther down/in front of a place called The Brickyard. (This is the 'street slang' name -- it has no actual name.) The Brickyard is a large area paved in red brick & filled with tables where passersby/skateboarders /& the homeless can sit & talk/listen to street musicians (no one was playing today) & eat take-out from the burger joint on the corner of Main & Lemon. (Mark may wish to note that this establishment -- also without a name -- serves better-than-avg. cheeseburgers/very juicy. But alas, they are fried -- not flame-broiled -- & therefore do not fit the classic definition of a cheeseburger. Plus there is no choice of cheeses -- only that orange American pseudo- cheese is served.)

    The phone in front of The Brickyard was working -- someone was on it & remained on it for more than 30 min.! Which pissed me off royally/becuz it was starting to rain & I did NOT feel like getting soaked just to find out the # of a damn payphone. (I mean, what is with people? It's A Payphone -- not your home phone! You get on it/have a brief conversation to find out what you need to know or reach whomever you must reach/then hang up & let someone else use the fucking phone!) I assumed from the general appearance of the thing that this phone was also a cocot. Apparently, GTE (our local telco) has just about abdicated their position in the payphone market. But the bitch wouldn't get off the phone/& I got tired of pacing back & forth 3 feet behind her in the rain/so I left.

    While observing said bitch/I did not see her put any $$ into the phone. Which must mean someone placed an incoming call to her there! So, there is hope -- or at least I thought there was.

    Chagrined by my defeat downtown/I headed for the supermarket near my home/where I know there is a working payphone. It is the one on the right in the bank of 2 phones outside of the Kash-n- Karry supermarket at the corner of No.Lockwood Ridge Rd. & University Pkwy. It is a cocot/owned by a company called Parkway Collections. The tel# is 941-359-4881. There was a man using phone right next to it/so I had to try to verify the # on the sly. I dialed 958 & got an error message. I dialed 114 & got a smiliar message. Then I remembered that here in FL/you must dial a 1 before dialing 411 to get Information. So I tried dialing 1114 & got another error msg. Finally/I just wrote down the # & left.

    I then when home & tried to call the
    aforementioned payphone. One ringie-dingie/
    two ringie-dingies... I felt certain that I would connect & someone would answer/because this phone is in a very high-traffic area. On the third ring/I got a VERY LOUD TONE/like a fax tone. I'm sure the system was waiting for me to input some #/but I had no clue what. I tried 958 & 114 again/but the ear-splitting tone continued. Finally I hung up/crushed.

    So/my Payphone Project was a bust. Will someone please tell me how these folks in Austrailia manage to ring up random payphones
    /speak to people who turn out to be their actual neighbors!/& get instructions to run to their houses & turn off their water sprinklers?

    Anyway/abject failure tends to make my terribly hungry/so I'm off now to scrounge up some eats. I may have lost the battle/but I shall not lose the war! I have decided that next time/I will stake out payphones at the following locales:

    1. Payphones In Bars. In the days of my errant youth/I associated with a couple or three folks who, umm... did a lot of business using beepers & payphones. At one particular watering hole I frequented in NY/the payphone was always ringing with incoming calls re: buiness matters. So there must be some bars here that have phones that still do incoming calls. I mean/bar culture hasn't changed that much in the past 10 years, right?

    2. Payphones In Laundromats. I used to date a guy in Jersey back when I lived in Brooklyn/& he would call me from the payphone when he was doing his laundry/give me the #/& I would call him back & talk to him until his clothes were finished. We reversed the process when I was doing my laundry in Brooklyn. Surely/payphones in laundromats still take incoming calls -- even in Sarasota.

    If anyone knows of a code I can enter when I hear that seizure-inducing tone after calling into a payphone/pls. e-mail me or post your response here. (Who knew this would be so much work?)


By Liefje on Monday, December 29, 1997 - 04:04 am:
    Sounds like you folks have some pretty interesting adventures on your payphone missions. Here in Holland it is unfortunately impossible to call a payphone. But, I come to the States alot so I can Make up for lost time there!!

By Dr. pp on Monday, December 29, 1997 - 03:24 pm:
    why all the interests in pay phones?

By RxPF on Saturday, January 3, 1998 - 03:51 pm:
    For communication kicks. Hey Dr. Sang Froid, try taking 3 drops of grapefruit seed extract in 8oz. of orange juice heavily stirred, twice daily. It really does kill parasites and bacteria. Great discovery GSE is! (Be sure to get the extract not the powdered kind)

By Quentin on Saturday, January 10, 1998 - 09:05 pm:
    hey there...ANI's are cool huh.
    thats what the original message was about, now i needed another ANI and wondered if anyone can help
    southwestern Virginia...area code 540
    anyone know the ANI here?
    BTW, the CT (860) ANI was 940 last time i checked

By Cornholio on Thursday, January 15, 1998 - 12:36 am:
    Pay phones? Y pay for something that should be free...Phone companies rip us off so very much..that I think it's time that we must take a stand and say "Freedom for all! And free phone service forever!" What does it cost a phone company to hook u up with the person you call? Not much...in fact...maybe a few cents used in electricity to switch those few switches around..So Y the hell do we get charged 10 cents or even more like 25cents a frickin minute...no pay phones are even more...it costs 30 frickin cents to make a damn 3 minute local call...and minimum $2.50 for long distance...What is wrong with this world today...We pay plenty of money in to keep our country running smoothly and healthy..Y the hell isn't it that way.

By Steve Pop on Thursday, January 15, 1998 - 12:04 pm:
    So what do you do when a friend, visiting from Holland, alpha pages you and HE doesn't know that NYCity payphones don't accept call backs because he's from HOLLAND and didn't get the NYNEX notice!!.... and you can't return his beep?

    Just who do I write to/call at Ma Bell? I'm on the phone with 718 403 7000 right now (the payphone center for NY) and all it does is ring!! Maybe their phone doesn't accept call backs either.

By Interrupt on Tuesday, February 3, 1998 - 11:51 am:
    Here is an ANI that is suppose to work all over the nation. It is operated by ATT


    Trust me Dial it and see. For me it has worked in Flordia, IL, Iniana, and Iowa.

By Chou-fleur on Tuesday, February 24, 1998 - 04:59 pm:
    We get a lot of wrong numbers at my house for some reason. Lately I've been giving payphone numbers out to wrong-number callers (and pranksters) as "updated" numbers.

By Rat. on Tuesday, February 24, 1998 - 05:50 pm:
    Here in Uk most payphones will accept incoming calls,In the "old" days used to be able to make no-pay calls by simply dialling 17 the dropping line for a couple of secs the just dial away (was only good for local calls). Now with latest tech' caller ID etc ...useless......

    Best Regards RAT......

By Bcamp on Saturday, March 28, 1998 - 03:55 pm:
    I called this pay phone in frederickburgs virginia and this redneck answered it and said hEeLLo? since it was the first time I called a payphone it scared me so I hung up

By Professor Wiggins on Sunday, March 29, 1998 - 03:49 am:
    Don't be scared of rednecks. Most of them are able to safely answer telephones. They may be a little difficult to understand at first because of their accents, but they can comprehend and answer most simple questions, providing the words are two syllables or less. Talking to them can actually be very entertaining. They say the darndest things sometimes! You might even want to record your conversations with rednecks so you can play them back and share the amusement with your friends. Have fun!

By Randy Flint on Sunday, March 29, 1998 - 06:13 pm:
    Hey just what do you consider a redneck: Anyways? I suppose that since I'm from Georgia you think that Im a redneck when I speak perfectly good English. Ive been answering the phone for years now (I'm 25 on my next birthday)(June). So dont you get off saying anything about all rednecks being this way or that. And were not all in the Klan either. Some of my friends dont even LIKE the Klan so what does that do to your theory Mr. Wiggins? Blow it to hell that's what!

By CryptoMan on Friday, April 3, 1998 - 12:08 am:
    Interrupt... your ANI is correct !!!

    ps.. uncool to publish this shit outside of the
    inner circle

Mant be me on Saturday, November 21, 1998 - 10:34 pm:

    i dont know much bout ANI's but i tried interupts at a fone...maybe it dosnt have incomin call but after i hit 107 it started ringin...is there a # or sumthin that i must type bofore the ANI? i need sum help and i hope u guys will help me...thanks

By Mike on Saturday, January 8, 2000 - 09:14 am:

    958 works on real payphones like u said, i just wanted to add it also works on residential phones (at least in nj) and dont ever forget the alwasy fun last 4 digits, hang up 3 tims and run prank. always great fun

By Frankie c on Monday, May 5, 2003 - 05:29 am:

    you also can try 958 from you home phone and also so fom your junkin boxs with a butt set

By Anonymous on Friday, May 30, 2003 - 11:49 am:

    to identify the payphone# dial #8808

By Bob from Albany on Saturday, June 28, 2003 - 05:01 pm:

    Within the Verizon world call (your area code)+890-1900 to verify if caller ID is being sent from the phone you are on.

By Bob on Thursday, November 6, 2003 - 09:50 pm:

    WHat a bunch of poor silly soles on this website

By Joey df of nj on Thursday, November 6, 2003 - 09:53 pm:

    i've got news for you, verizon and the other LEC's use the same computers as those in private pay telephones. So, I think it's safe to say that private payphones and LEC payphones are both REAL PAYPHONES

By R.T.C. on Sunday, September 12, 2004 - 12:20 am:

    Not pretend payphones?


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