I need a landline telephone — but just for 9 hours
July 17, 2014 5:47 AM   Subscribe

Like many people, I am totally fine living without a landline. Between my cell phone and Google Voice, I'm covered. Mostly. But now I need a landline for nine hours.

I'm going to be doing a long string of promotional phone interviews that requires me to have a landline. At first it sounded like sort of a goofy requirement, but I have to admit that while I am fine with Google and my cell service, they are not perfect. Sometimes they cut out. It's random and it's annoying. A landline would not cut out. I get it. No one wants to listen to a radio interview where the guy on the other end is screaming "CAN YOU HEAR ME NOW?" every second breath.

But I have no landline. None of my friends has a landline. The office rental/co-working places around here want a small fortune (in the neighborhood of $500 once sign-up fees and rental are accounted for), plus not every space would be appropriate. It needs to be quiet. I would think about getting a hotel, but the interviews run from 6:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., which blows past the usual hotel checkout time so it could end up costing me two days of hotel, which would be pricey.

I posted on Craigslist (and Kijiji) but have heard nothing so far. It's a bit of an oddball request that probably just gets lost on there.

At this point, I'm considering just calling the phone company and getting a landline, which would cost around $150 for the installation and minimum plan — plus buying a phone itself. For the sake of nine hours!

But before I do that, I'm hoping someone here has a brilliant idea about what I might try.
posted by veggieboy to Technology (27 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Do you have friends who work in offices? Most places I've worked it would be super easy for me to let a friend in to use a conference room all day. The medium-to-large places I've worked had "hotelling" offices intended for it someone was in town from another office, and those would have been especially easy.
posted by brainmouse at 5:57 AM on July 17, 2014

Are there small local business you frequent that might allow you to borrow their lines a while? What if you talked to a local employment agency, the type that has little cubicles to allow people to job hunt on the phone or something?

If it's promotional, would that be advertising based? Might be someone who buys the advertising can let you sit at a desk and use a phone all day.

Heads up if you do manage to borrow a phone at a business:

I'm not sure how it works in your part of the world, but I tried to make a call here in the US from my office desk phone using *67 to block outbound caller ID and was informed that I could not block that number from being displayed as it is Permanently Public.

Barring all else ... phone booth?
posted by Buttons Bellbottom at 5:58 AM on July 17, 2014

Depending on the hotel, you wouldn't necessarily pay for two nights if you miss the checkout time - they might just charge you a $10-20 fee for late checkout. If you explain your situation to the hotel people, they might even waive that fee.
posted by UncleBoomee at 6:01 AM on July 17, 2014 [1 favorite]

Hotels also rent out meeting rooms, and I'd guess that you could likely work out rental for a day rate on a regular room too. Definitely ask, it's very likely that they'd try to accommodate you.
posted by susanvance at 6:03 AM on July 17, 2014 [18 favorites]

Make sure if you go the hotel route you verify that you can use the provided phone to call the numbers you need to call without it costing you tons of money - non-local calls are not necessarily going to be free.
posted by brainmouse at 6:05 AM on July 17, 2014 [4 favorites]

If you can get access to a reliable, business class internet connection, I'd go with a VOIP setup with a good quality SIP provider - callcentric has a decent rep.

It's pretty easy to get either a wired handset with a SIP connection built in, or you can use a bog-standard analog POTS handset with a SIP adapter - I've been using a cisco PAP2 for years, and its worked beautifully, indistinguishable from the landline in quality and reliability. Perhaps get the hardware from a local rental place so you don't need to pay for an IP handset outright?

Alternatively, you can use a softphone SIP client on your computer with a good quality mic/headset, but then you're adding in a more complex setup with more stuff that could go bang.

Many business have switched to VOIP for phone service - it's pretty standard for cold-call centres in fact. In the UK, the entire BT analog voice network is all IP based on the backend now.
posted by ArkhanJG at 6:08 AM on July 17, 2014 [1 favorite]

Just a guess but maybe recording studios have or know of somewhere set up for this sort of thing.
posted by Sophont at 6:11 AM on July 17, 2014 [1 favorite]

Check and see if your local library has a meeting room with a land line that you could use. Ask in person, while looking and acting charming.

Just about all churches have offices with land lines and many would love to help you.
posted by myselfasme at 6:12 AM on July 17, 2014 [6 favorites]

I don't know if this is in your city or price range but breather is a new startup that offers to rent quiet spaces for short periods of time, it might be worth checking out.

Maybe you could also try mefi jobs to see if someone who has a landline might be able to help.
posted by SpaceWarp13 at 6:15 AM on July 17, 2014 [1 favorite]

Thanks for the good suggestions so far. A few quick responses/clarifications:

The timing is inflexible; it has to start at 6:30 a.m. That might rule out something like, say, a library.

Also, all of the people I know here are some combination of freelancers, workers without conventional jobs or underemployed. Not ruling out the kindness of others, but that's definitely one wrinkle.
posted by veggieboy at 6:18 AM on July 17, 2014

You might try an executive office or conference room rental by the day. (My company has no brick-and-mortar office, so we meet sometimes at rented conference rooms.) I checked your profile and Regus has spaces in your city.

Alternately, you might have luck with coworking spaces that have private offices.

Again, you want to make sure this includes phone access. We recently rented a hotel room for for a work session and ended up not being about to use the phone due to outrageous surcharges.
posted by mochapickle at 6:21 AM on July 17, 2014

Yes, rather than a hotel (which is likely to have surcharges for phone calls) you might try to find someone on Airbnb with a landline.

Do you know anyone who works at a university? So many people are on vacation right now with private offices at the university near me...if you have the right connection it might not be that hard to set up, though the timing might require you getting some kind of access key.
posted by three_red_balloons at 6:29 AM on July 17, 2014

And to clarify, you may find better pricing for something called a "Day Office." A boardroom'll cost close to $400 but a day office is maybe half that.
posted by mochapickle at 6:31 AM on July 17, 2014 [1 favorite]

Could you do something like Magic Jack? Yeah, it's VoIP, not a "landline" but most offices are VoIP now as are many peoples' home "landlines" (via Vonage or whatever). I don't know if I actually know anyone with a phone line from the actual phone company anymore - even my parents/grandparents switched to VoIP due to cost savings.
posted by melissasaurus at 6:46 AM on July 17, 2014

Do you have access to or are you a frequent flyer? You could get a small phone room at one of the airline FF rooms at the airport.
posted by 724A at 6:53 AM on July 17, 2014

Could you canvass the neighborhood for an older person on a fixed income that would "rent" his place for a fee, $150 may be pretty good for some?
posted by sammyo at 7:01 AM on July 17, 2014 [3 favorites]

How seriously have you polled your network? Have you offered money? If you were a friend of a trusted friend I would absolutely give you quiet access to my landline... For a 6:30 starting time $50 or better $100 would seem reasonable, it sounds like it would still beat your other paid options at the moment.
posted by nanojath at 7:01 AM on July 17, 2014 [1 favorite]

Do you have cable you van upgrade to include voice?
posted by SemiSalt at 7:10 AM on July 17, 2014

You could also try listing it on Craigslist "gigs" or "etc" jobs if you haven't, where people may be looking to make a little extra cash.
posted by three_red_balloons at 7:11 AM on July 17, 2014

Get in touch with your local campus/community radio station.
posted by blue t-shirt at 7:27 AM on July 17, 2014

If you have older friends or friends with kids, they're more likely to have a landline in my experience. But call hotels and ask about a day rate for using the phone. That seems like it would be easier. Or ask if the hotel has a "business center" kind of situation. Whenever I use one of those to print something out or whatever, there's never anyone there.
posted by mskyle at 7:35 AM on July 17, 2014

Do you have friends who live in upscale apartment or condo buildings? Sometimes those places have a "business center" with phones, computers and printers.
posted by mjcon at 7:44 AM on July 17, 2014

Business class VoIP is "business class" because it doesn't route over the public internet. Real time voice transmission over your residential connection, being uploaded in competition in with the traffic from students playing Xbox Live all day long over the summer, has even less guarantees than your cell phone.
posted by Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug at 8:05 AM on July 17, 2014

It sounds like you're making a lot of assumptions in your question and follow-up that are preventing you from actually reaching a solution. You're going to need to look into things like what time your local library opens, and whether or not a hotel will allow you to check out late with a minor fee, etc.

If you want this to be easy, just have a landline installed at your house. If you want it to be cheap, you're going to have to do some legwork.
posted by sockermom at 8:10 AM on July 17, 2014 [2 favorites]

If any of them are local, would it be possible to grab a room from one of the radio stations you're doing promos with? If none are local, is there perhaps an affiliated station locally that someone could connect you with? I have to imagine that the stations have had to deal with logistics for this sort of thing before.

Bonus: Maybe you can get linked up to stations via ISDN!
posted by Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug at 8:11 AM on July 17, 2014 [1 favorite]

I've been in same situation. You absolutely can't do radio on a cell phone. It's a problem. Note: I didn't read thru prior replies.

If you're in an urban area, there'll be a store or two letting immigrants call home for $X/minute. You can try that. Probably open early.

Also, consider using a payphone, if you can find an old fashioned one with a closing door for sonic isolation. Use a calling card so you don't need to add change, obviously.

What I did was I went to my parents house. Neighbors also an option.
posted by Quisp Lover at 12:33 PM on July 17, 2014

You could try putting up a notice at the library or local shops. The people likely to have a quiet room and a telephone you could borrow are less likely to be looking on the internet.
posted by kjs4 at 11:31 PM on July 17, 2014

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