AOH :: COCOTS1.TXT

About COCOTs 1/2



The Midnight Computer Wiring Society presents................


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2/20/91

                   COCOTS: What the hell are they anyway?



                                 by



                      ..oooOO Count Zero OOooo..

                             -=*:MCWS:*=-

               BONUS!->  plans for the COMBO-BOX

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   So...you're walking down the street and you see a payphone...gotta make an

important call, so you dig into your pocket to get a dime...picking up the

handset, you suddenly notice that the payphone wants a QUARTER for a local

call!...what the hell?....and WHERE did this synthesized voice come from?...



  Let's make this phile short and to the point..a COCOT is an acronym for

Customer Owned Coin Operated Telefone...in other words, a COCOT is a fone

OWNED or RENTED by a PAYING CUSTOMER (most likely, a hotel or donut shop)..a

COCOT is NOT a normal payfone...the Telco doesn't own it, and the actual fone

line is usually a normal customer loop (unlike payfones, where the fone line

is a "special" payfone loop, allowing the use of "coin tones" to indicate

 money dropped in..more on this later)... SO!...A COCOT may LOOK and SMELL like

a telco payphone, but it is NOT....



* Why do COCOTs exist?



  Simple....$$$$$$$!...a customer owned payfone is money in the bank!..you pay

 MORE for local calls...and long distance is typically handled by sleazy

carriers that offer poor/EXPENSIVE service..the owner/renter of the COCOT opens

 the coinbox and keeps the money him/herself!...Also, a particularly SLEAZY

 quality of a COCOT is the fact that it DOES NOT RECIEVE INCOMING CALLS..this,

 of course, is because of $$...if people are calling IN to a COCOT, the COCOT

 is not making money...and businesses always want to make as much $$ as

 possible...even if it hurts the consumer...(think about it..it REALLY sucks

 calling someone at home from a COCOT, then not be able to have him/her call

 you back to save $$..."Guess I'll have to keep feeding the COCOT quarters!")



* Where is a good place to look for COCOTs?



  Outside Dunkin Donut shops, restaurants, clubs, bars, and outside/inside

 hotels...."convenient" locations





*  How do I figure out if I have found a COCOT?



  Simple..a COCOT will have NO TELCO LOGOS on it....no New England Telefone

symbols....it may look just like a Telco fone...chrome, with blue stickers and

all that...ALSO..a COCOT typically charges MORE for a local call than a regular

Telco payfone (in Massachusetts, local calls are a dime, in places like NYC,

they are 25 cents..)....a COCOT will most often have a synthesized voice that

asks you to "please deposit 25 cents" or whatever...ALSO...some FaNcY COCOTS

will not look like payfones at all...some in hotels have weird LCD displays

and look totally different..but the ALWAYS charge you more than a normal

payphone..



*  OK, I found this weird payphone in Boston that wants a quarter, and this

 synthesized voice is harassing me...when does the phun begin?



  Soon..first of all, you must understand that the COCOT is a MIMIC...

essentially, it wants you to THINK that it is just a plain ol' payfone...pick

up the handset..hear that dialtone?...HAH!...that dialtone is FAKE...

synthesized by the innards of the COCOT....you are at the mercy of the COCOT..

REMEMBER...a COCOT runs off of a normal customer loop..SO...unlike a Telco

payfone where you MUST deposit money to generate coin tones that are read by

the CO, the SECURITY of a COCOT depends SOLELY on the COCOT fone itself...its

as if you took your own fone and put a sign on it saying "Please put 10 cents

in this jar for every call you make."....COCOTS are not naiive...they won't let

you NEAR the unrestricted dialtone until you fork over the cash-ola..heh heh..

or so they THINK!



  See, the Achilles heel of the COCOT is the FACT that ALL PAYFONES MUST LET

YOU MAKE 1-800 CALLS FOR FREE!...it's not just a fact, it's the LAW...so, now

pick up the handset again and place a 1-800 call....any 1-800 number will do.

When they answer at the other end, just sit there....do nothing...ignore them.

wait for them to hang up the fone....here's an example..



<DIAL 1-800-LOAN-YES>



<Ring, Ring>.....<click> "Hello, you wanna buy some money? Hello? HELLO?!"



<CLICK>



<You will now hear some static and probably a strange "waffling" noise, like

  chh,chh,chh,chh,chh>



<CLICK>......DIALTONE!



 NOW!..what have we got here?...a DIALTONE?...yes, you guessed it, the dialtone

you now hear is the UNRESTRICED dialtone of the COCOT's customer loop...



* So what?..So I got an "unrestricted dialtone"...big deal?



  Meathead!...with an UNRESTRICTED dialtone, all you need to do is place a call

via DTMF tones (the tones a touch-tone keypad generates)...now, try dialing a

number with the COCOTs keypad...WHOA!..waitasec, no sound!..heh heh..this is a

typical lame attempt at protection by the COCOT..just WHIP out your Radio Shack

pocket tone dialer, and try calling a number...ANY number...place it just as

if you were calling from a home phone...call a 1-900 sex line...call Guam...you

are FREE..and the COCOTs customer loop is being billed!





***NOTE:..some COCOTS are more sophisticated at protecting themselves..some

will RESET when they hear the dialtone...to get around this, make a loud

hissing sound with your mouth into the mouthpiece after the 1-800 number hangs

up...also, get your tone dialer ready near the mouthpiece..when u hear the

dialtone, quickly dial the first digit of your number to call...if you hiss

loudly enough, you MAY be able to mask the sound of the dialtone and prevent

the COCOT from resetting...and once you dial the first digit of the number

you are calling, the dialtone will disappear (naturally)...ok, you can stop

hissing like an idiot now..finish dialing your PHREE fone call..

  Also, some COCOTs actually disable the handset after a call hangs up

(in other words, you can't send DTMF tones thru the mouthpiece)....oh well,

better luck next time..



HOWEVER...MOST of the COCOTs I have run across ONLY disable the DTMF keypad..

so all you need is a pocket dialer to circumvent this!



OTHER THINGS TO KNOW:...Sure, you can't call a COCOT, but it DOES have a number

..to find out the COCOT's number, call 1-800-933-3258..this automated ANI

service will tell you the number you're dialing from...now, try calling the

COCOT from another fone..you will hear one of 2 things:



                 1) synthesized voice "Thank you"...CLICK..<hang up>

                 2) weird carrier



A COCOT's number is ONLY used by the company that BUILT the COCOT..by calling

up a COCOT, a tech. can monitor its functioning, etc...in case (1), you must

enter a 3 or 4 digit password and then you'll get into a voice menu driven

program that'll let you do "maintenance" stuff with the COCOT...in case (2),

you are hooked to the COCOT's 300 bps modem (YES, a MODEM in a PAYFONE)..

likewise, if you can figure out the communication settings, you'll be into the

COCOT's maintenance routines.....



Personally, I haven't had much luck (or patience) with calling up and hacking

COCOT maintenance functions..I just like making free fone calls from 'em!





COCOT ETIQUETTE:

 Now, remember, you are making free fone calls....but SOMEONE has to pay for

'em...and that is the OWNER...the COCOT's customer loop is billed the cost of

the calls, and if the OWNER sees a big difference in the profits made on the

COCOT (profit=coins from COCOT - bill from Telco for customer loop)..they'll

know SOMETHING is up...so..moral is DON'T ABUSE THEM!..don't call a 1-900

number and stay on the line for 12 hours!....if a COCOT is abused SEVERLY, an

owner will eventually LOSE money on the damn thing!...and that means..BYE BYE

COCOT...also, remember that a RECORD of ALL LONG DISTANCE calls is made to the

COCOT's customer loop..and COCOT companies will sometimes investigate "billing

discrepencies"....so don't call anyone you personally know unless you are

sure they are "cool"..




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