[VoiceOps] Audio cut-through and toll fraud - was "Letting a phone ring forever"

Jay Hennigan jay at west.net
Wed Jul 27 16:05:37 EDT 2011

On 7/27/11 6:28 AM, Stephen Sprunk wrote:

> I've had numerous customers ask for longer ringback timeouts on the
> calling side; it turns out that the above is a /very/ common practice
> for toll-free numbers.  The menus and hold music are all "ringback"
> messages, and the call isn't actually "answered" until a human agent
> gets on the line.  As many of us are unfortunately aware from our own
> experience calling customer (dis)service lines, that can easily exceed
> five minutes.

The menus?  Really?

I have had issues with this and as far as I can tell, the menus should
not be considered ringing.

We have had reports of DTMF failures navigating the IVR of toll-free
numbers from time to time.  American Airlines is one specific example.

What we have found is that there really isn't a DTMF issue, but that the
forward audio path is being disabled until answer somewhere enroute.
This is to me the correct behavior and was implemented at least a decade
ago as a fraud prevention measure to prevent an endpoint from simply not
providing answer supervision and conversing.

>From what I recall, the forward audio path is *supposed* to be blocked
until the call is answered.  Reverse audio is enabled for ringback
tones, intercept recordings, and the like.

For a toll-free end user to deliberately not provide answer supervision
(and thus start billing) and expect to process DTMF into a menu or for
that matter just carry on a conversation seems fraudulent.

Of course American Airlines and the like is kind of an 800-pound gorilla
and trying to get them or their carrier to alter this behavior of a free
ride navigating the menus would be an uphill battle.

So I could theoretically have a toll-free number that would have a menu,
"Press 1 to hear an audiobook recording of 'War and Peace'; press 2 to
hear the 1812 overture..." and run it for free?  Doesn't seem kosher.

Jay Hennigan - CCIE #7880 - Network Engineering - jay at impulse.net
Impulse Internet Service  -  http://www.impulse.net/
Your local telephone and internet company - 805 884-6323 - WB6RDV

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