How can I forward a call to two cell phones?
August 11, 2009 2:05 PM   Subscribe

My new apartment's buzzer works by dialing a phone number. My girlfriend and I both live in the apartment. We each have cell phones, no land line, and the buzzer will only accept one number. What should we do?

1. Get a land line for the apartment. Don't want to because it would cost money and we'd have no other use for it.

2. Route to one of our phones. This should work fine under normal circumstances but what if the chosen person is not home, and their phone is dead? We could make it work but it has the potential to be inconvenient.

3. Both our cell phones ring, and whoever picks up first answers the call. I think this is the ideal solution but I have no idea how to implement this since the system apparently can't do it on its own. There must be services out there that would let us do this. Anything reliable, cheap, and available in Vancouver BC? (Both of us have cell service from Telus and have basic simple phones.)
posted by PercussivePaul to Technology (22 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Can you get it to route to a Google Voice phone number? It's possible that you could pick up that number on more than one cell, I think.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 2:07 PM on August 11, 2009

Could google voice work?

I haven't played with it personally - but i know it allows you to customize your phone options more.
posted by royalsong at 2:07 PM on August 11, 2009

Yes, Google Voice can do the two phone ring solution. You'll need to scam an invite from someone or wait a month until the public beta.
posted by signalnine at 2:09 PM on August 11, 2009

Usually, systems like this require a local phone number. Can Google Voice assign phone numbers with local area codes?
posted by muddgirl at 2:12 PM on August 11, 2009

Response by poster: Google Voice is only available in the US; I am in Canada.
posted by PercussivePaul at 2:13 PM on August 11, 2009

I've lived in apartments with systems like this for a long time. Option #2 has yet to be inconvenient - usually, we know when someone's coming over so we can prepare for the call (powering up the phone, etc.)

Another option: Could you buy a pay-as-you-go phone with a local number that's always plugged in at home? Usually you have to buy a set number of minutes but in the long run this might be the cheapest option.
posted by muddgirl at 2:15 PM on August 11, 2009 [3 favorites]

Seconding #2

I had this very same problem, but it was much simpler. My wife leaves her phone at home or forgets to charge it maybe 30% of the time. My iPhone is named "First Wife". Guess whose phone the buzzer rings?
posted by Oktober at 2:19 PM on August 11, 2009 [1 favorite]

Get the cheapest possible prepaid cellphone and use it as your dedicated door intercom. This would be much cheaper than a landline.
posted by qxntpqbbbqxl at 2:26 PM on August 11, 2009

Route to one of our phones. This should work fine under normal circumstances but what if the chosen person is not home, and their phone is dead? We could make it work but it has the potential to be inconvenient.

Yes, but it also has the potential to be very convenient. My buzzer number called my house and then forwarded to my cell phone if the home did not answer. More than once, I lost my keys or couldn't reach them and let myself in with my cell phone.
posted by soelo at 2:30 PM on August 11, 2009 [1 favorite]

"Follow Me" service may be helpful to you here. Calls made bounce from one number to another on a specified list until answered. Verizon used to offer it here in NYC. You might want to check with your wireless service provider, to see if they offer a similar program.

Bell Canada offers a "Just One" service. Ring Central offers something similar, called FollowMe. I do not know if that particular company provides service to Canadian area codes, though.
posted by zarq at 2:31 PM on August 11, 2009

I'm in a similar situation, and we use Option #4: Ignore the buzzer entirely. Usually when friends come over (or whenever anyone needs to come by for any reason) we just ask them to call us when they get to the front door. Food delivery personnel are always agreeable about calling too (impressive, since we live in LA and still have not gotten our phone numbers changed since leaving the east coast).

We hardly ever have drop-in visitors, so YMMV.
posted by hifiparasol at 2:31 PM on August 11, 2009

Also see "Find Me Follow Me" from JustOneCall.
posted by zarq at 2:33 PM on August 11, 2009

Yeah, I'm with hifiparasol...running down to let people in when they arrive is far less of an inconvenience than paying for an entire separate phone service!
posted by Pomo at 2:44 PM on August 11, 2009

Buy a super cheap pay-as-you-go phone and use it only for this purpose. Shouldn't cost you more than a few dollars a year.
posted by comwiz at 2:47 PM on August 11, 2009

Had same problem, asked the landlord nicely to put our numbers in the buzzer separately.
posted by miyabo at 3:00 PM on August 11, 2009 [1 favorite]

It's not a guarantee that your cellphone will work on their switchboard though. I am in your same situation and it was my cellphone we decided would be linked, but the way they have their system here means the number needs to be on a landline coming from the inside of the building or else pressing 9 won't open the door. A shame, but I've long since gotten used to going downstairs to let friends in. It's easier now that friends know to give a call once they're arriving.
posted by Meagan at 3:36 PM on August 11, 2009

Could your apartment manager not give you two separate codes? This is what my partner and I did -- we have two separate cell phones and have different codes on the buzzer system under each of our names.
posted by pised at 4:18 PM on August 11, 2009

2. Route to one of our phones. This should work fine under normal circumstances but what if the chosen person is not home, and their phone is dead? We could make it work but it has the potential to be inconvenient.

I had this same setup at an old apartment and we chose to bind it to my cell. Strangely enough, I am also quite prone to having a dead phone or being randomly MIA. What having this did was a) remind me to keep my phone charged for emergency situations (which is something I kept with and am thankful for) and b) open up communication more with the person I was living with. While in your case this person is your girlfriend, that shouldn't be an issue. My roommate was really good about texting me to let me know someone was about to ring the door and to let them in.

An unforeseen problem we had were kids that lived in the building that would randomly smack 3 numbers assuming that someone would likely let them in without question. More often than not I'd ask who it was and they'd scurry to press more numbers to try to hang up on me.. only to end up calling me back a second or third time in a row. They'd also often times use this feature as a personal cell phone to ask their parents if they could go to Timmy's for dinner or that Sally crashed her bike and is bleeding profusely.

My work environment was incredibly lax so the fact that this would happen very frequently every day, all day during the summer wasn't an issue, but it was still quite a nuisance.. so keep that in mind as well.
posted by june made him a gemini at 4:29 PM on August 11, 2009

Oh, and I should also note that for two months after we left that apartment, I continued to receive phone calls from a local pizza delivery company trying to get into the building to deliver to the guy that took over our place.

Seemed he liked it so much he'd order it twice a week and every time I'd let them in I'd ask them to tell the new resident to have the office change the number associated with it. Obviously, I ended up having to just do it myself.
posted by june made him a gemini at 4:34 PM on August 11, 2009

We just went through this talk with the move to the new place. Our choice was pretty easy - I work in a building with poor signal, where as the Null works in a place with excellent signal. We said screw it, put my name (the more uncommon of our two names) on the directory, but pointed it at his cell phone number. Problem solved.
posted by strixus at 4:40 PM on August 11, 2009

Why don't you route to one of your phones, but have that phone/provider setup to forward to the other if the call doesn't go through? I've done this kind of forwarding before with some provider but I can't remember which.
posted by bone machine at 11:01 AM on August 12, 2009

Response by poster: Thanks for the answers everyone. I looked into Telus and I don't see this service available. Google Voice would have probably worked if it was available here. But I'm encouraged by people who have done it with just one phone and not had any issues.
posted by PercussivePaul at 11:17 AM on August 12, 2009

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