Frequently Asked Questions

Explanation of Formatting

  1. A in front of the telephone number means that the phone does not accept incoming calls.
  2. A in front of the telephone number means that the phone charges for incoming calls.
  3. A in the phone description means that the pay phone is outside.
  4. In cases where there are multiple pay phones at one location, pay phones are listed in order from left to right.
  5. If pay phones are arranged in an unusual manner, or many groups of pay phones are at one location, directional descriptions will be put on the far right column.

1. I have a pay phone number xxx-xxx-xxxx, will you help me find where it is?
No. I don’t have the time or the resources available to find out the location of one particular pay phone number. If you’ve tried the search and not come up with anything, then you will not find any more information here. You will need to try another resource, or possibly wait for the day I happen to randomly stubmle upon the pay phone number in question, which is not likely to happen unless the phone is in the state of Washington.
2. Will you put my link on your links page?
Absolutely not! The links page is for phone related web sites that I like and want to share with others. Please quit sending me your reciprocal link spam.
3. Why don't you have any pay phone numbers from a certain state/certain area code?
This is probably because nobody from the area you’re interested in has ever bothered to find and send in numbers. If you happen to be living in an area which you think needs better representation in the Pay Phone Directory, you can do like I do and visit pay phones, obtain their numbers, and then send them in to me. Numbers submitted are usually added in a few days.
4. Does it cost extra to call a pay phone?
No, there should be no extra charge for calling to a pay phone. Long distance charges may apply when calling any phone outside of the local calling area, but there is no special charge for calling to a pay phone, unless it is detailed in the listing for some reason like there are some phones in California that have extra cost if you call.
5. Do you sell pay phones and pay phone accessories?
No, the Pay Phone Directory is not a business and does not sell anything. The sole purpose of the Pay Phone Directory is to provide useful pay phone information to anyone who wants it.
6. Do you verify the pay phone numbers that are submitted to you?
Absolutely! All pay phone numbers submitted via the submission form will receive a phone call from me. If the test call tells me that a number is not a pay phone, it will not be added to the website. Please don’t submit private lines or cellular phones to the Pay Phone Directory, I will find out that it’s not a pay phone and I will not add it to the web site.
7. I submitted a number and it was never added to the Pay Phone Directory?
Well, there are a number of reasons why this might happen. You may have submitted a number that is in fact, not a pay phone. You may also have not included enough address and location information for me to verify that the location exists. I do attempt to look up places submitted with “Address Unknown,” but if I can not determine a unique location for the phone, it does not get added to the website. Also, the submission process is not instantaneous. The verification process takes time, and sometimes I get too busy with other things to spend time updating the web site. Please check the What’s New page to make sure an update has even taken place before asking me if I received your submissions.
8. What is that metal plate behind the coin slot in some pay phones?
That metal plate thing appears to be part of the coin return mechanism, and it’s designed to keep coins from coming in to the phone while the coin return lever is activated. This plate appears in Western Electric, Automatic Electric, and many COCOT pay phone housings, but I have not encountered it on any Nortel pay phone models. A lot of times this plate gets stuck in the closed position and prevents coins from going into the pay phone entirely. If you find a phone like this, you should call the phone company’s repair service to get it corrected.
9. Your web site looks very different lately, what's going on?
The web pages on this site are being converted to use style sheets. If you have a modern browser, you should notice only subtle changes. If all you see is black text on a white background, and all the text is the same size, you should get a newer browser that supports style sheets.
10. How did you record those phone sounds?
Very simply, I took the microphone from my computer and set it on the table next to my telephone’s handset. Then I activated a soundsrecording program, and made the phone do whatever I wanted to record.
11. What ever made you start acquiring pay phone numbers?
That’s hard to explain sometimes. I have had a life long fascination with telephones. In about 1992 I found a specific interest in pay phones. Exploring how they operate and such. It wasn’t until 1994 that I began to write down numbers. I just wrote them down on paper since I didn’t have a computer then. Then when I got a computer, it was only natural for me to share my pay phone numbers with everyone on the internet. That’s how I started this whole thing.
12. How do you verify that the number written on the phone really is the phone number?
One thing you can do is call one of those automated collect call lines such as 1-800-COLLECT or 1-800-CALL-ATT. Attempt to place a collect call to the number you find on the phone. If the written number is correct, 1-800-COLLECT will say “I do not understand this response” and 1-800-CALL-ATT will say “The number you have dialed is not allowed for this service.” If you should find that the number written on the phone is incorrect, see the next question.
13. What if a pay phone has no number written on it, how do you find out the number?
You will have to place a call from that pay phone to an ANAC (Automatic Number Annoucement Ciruit) number. This number can be in one of two places. It could be a test number in your local switch such as 559, 211, 311, 611, 811, 958-1114, 958-6111 or just 958. This will make the local switch repeat your number back to you. If you can’t find a local number in your switch (some phone companies, like Qwest, keep it a deep dark secret and change it periodically), you will have to use a toll free number which works off of ANI (Automatic Number Identification). There are a few of these out there, such as 1-800-444-4444 or 1-800-877-2278. After calling one of these numbers, you should have the number of the phone you are using.
14. Do pay phones really accept incoming calls?
In the United States, the answer is generally yes. In Canada, the answer is generally no. There are also many other circumstances which affect whether phones will take calls. Some COCOT companies set all their phones to refuse them. Other companies use the location of a phone as a guideline. Phones is places that are believed to be “high crime areas” tend to block incoming calls. There really isn’t a very good way to predict if a phone accepts them or doesn’t. In the Pay Phone Directory, phones that do not accept incoming calls have a * before there number. That way you can know if you should bother to call it.
15. How do you add questions to the FAQ?
Simple. Just e-mail them using the contact form.
ElJefeFrequently Asked Questions