Below is an overview of common questions and issues regarding the ALERTNOW broadcasts.
I said “hello” and no message played. Why?
The ALERTNOW system plays the message as soon as the phone is picked up. However,
errors can occur if the person repeatedly says “hello” or answers in a noisy environment (i.e.
traffic, children playing, loud music or television, dogs barking, etc.). Generally, if a person
offers an extended greeting such that it overlaps the Alertnow message, the system pauses,
waits for silence, and replays the message from the beginning.
With background noise, it is possible that the system was unable to detect the end of the
“greeting” and thus the message did not initiate. In a noisy environment, where silence is
unattainable, call recipients can press any number (1-9) and the message will play from the
beginning without interruption.
How does the ALERTNOW system distinguish a live person from an answering machine?
In short, ALERTNOW utilizes the industry’s most Advanced Answering Machine Detection
(AAMD) software. The system starts the broadcast immediately upon telephone pickup;
simultaneously, it is listening for interruptions. If the system is not interrupted by noise or
someone speaking within the first 3.5 seconds, the message is delivered in its entirety. If the
system detects a greeting longer than a few seconds, the system treats this as an outgoing
message from an answering machine and will wait for a pause (usually after the beep) before
delivering the message to be recorded.
What if the line is busy or there is no answer?
The ALERTNOW system will make up to four attempts (depending on account settings) to
reach each number, with three minutes in between each call. If the message is not delivered
by the fourth attempt, it is considered a failed number. Failures happen when a phone
number is busy, disconnected, invalid, etc.
Why is my answering machine recording only half of the message?
If the answering machine greeting is sporadic with varied periods of silence, the system will
read this as a live person and begin playing the message, even though the machine has yet to
start recording. This will result in a recording of silence (if the ALERTNOW message
finishes playing before the machine begins recording) or of just the last portion of the
ALERTNOW message. The recommended solution is to have parents re-record their
outgoing message so that there are no pauses.
If the answering machine is set to record for a specific amount of time (e.g., 30 seconds) and
the ALERTNOW message runs longer than that, this will also result in message cut-off. The
recommended solution is to have parents set their machines to record for a longer period.
For voice mailboxes where it is necessary to enter a mailbox number, ALERTNOW is unable
to leave a message.
My caller ID showed that the school had called but there was no voice mail. Why?
If there is a break or a substantial silence in the outgoing message, the system determines it
has reached a live person and begins the message prior to the voice mail recording is engaged.
Please make sure that the greeting is seamless to facilitate successful message delivery.
Why doesn't the school’s phone number appear on the caller ID?
ALERTNOW passes the caller ID information to the local telephone carriers, but it is up to
those carriers to pass it along to their customers. Furthermore, different local telephone
companies process caller ID information differently. Some provide the name associated with
the number, while others do not. For example, a telephone company may require an
individual to subscribe to “Advanced Caller ID” in order to receive the school name along
with the phone number. Unfortunately, we have no control over this feature.
Will the system call phone numbers with extensions?
The ALERTNOW system only works with direct-dial phone numbers. The system is unable
to navigate menus or extensions.
I have a telemarketer screening device. How will that affect the call?
If a contact has a device on their telephone line designed to prevent automated phone systems
from connecting (e.g. TeleZapper, Privacy Manager, Privacy Director, etc.), they may not
receive the call. For example, with Privacy Director all unidentifiable incoming calls are
rerouted and the callers must identify themselves for the call to go through. Because our
system is automated, it will not identify itself; thus the call will not get through to the
recipient. For screening systems that are dependent on Caller ID’s, recipients can authorize
access for their school’s phone number through their device. Note that calls identified with
the school’s number on the Caller ID generally have no trouble getting through Privacy
Manager type systems. Only calls with the non-standard emergency Caller ID of 411 tend to
get caught up in Privacy Manager’s net.
Additional Information on the ALERTNOW Service:
The system will leave a message on the contact’s voice mail or answering machine. However,
the system is set to ring each line six times. If your answering machine is set to pick up on
seven or more rings, the message may not be delivered to your machine. Therefore, we
encourage you to set your machine to six rings or fewer.