Chatlines are most popular in the United States and Canada as an alternative to online dating.
As soon as a greeting is played, the caller is prompted to press 1 to connect live with that person, 2 to send her a recorded message or 3 to skip this person and listen to the next person's greeting.
Some systems allow you to block a caller by pressing 8 or report a caller to the moderators by pressing 9 (or some other key depending on the system).
Most chatlines offer male callers a 30- to 60-minute free trial.
In an attempt to keep their lines busy, some chatlines—including Livelinks, Red Hot and Quest Chat—give female callers unlimited access to their system; similar to a nightclub which allows free entry to women in order.
Some chatlines offer members a persistent mailbox they can use to receive messages from users even when they are offline.
A live caller is given the option to hear other members' mailboxes, where they can leave a recorded message to be retrieved by the mailbox owner next time he connects to the system.