TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Re: Need Help With a Telephone Mystery

Re: Need Help With a Telephone Mystery

Joe Morris (
Sat, 21 Jan 2006 18:04:12 UTC writes:

> Don't underestimate the grief someone has with a phone number close to
> a popular number. A friend's number is vaguely similar to a pizza
> place and he gets frequent calls for the place. (Since he's not
> usually there it's not a problem). A number I once had was similar to
> a call-in for work assignments and I got calls regularly at 5am.

My father told a story from back in the 1940s: for some reason people
kept calling his phone (obTelecomHistory: WAlnut, a manual exchange in
uptown New Orleans) when they wanted to contact their local grocery to
have food delivered. (Yes, some groceries did that 'way back
when ... PeaPod is nothing new.) Apparently someone at the grocery was
giving out the wrong number and complaints to the grocery didn't help.

He finally fixed the problem by responding to the calls complaining
about slow deliveries: he profusely apologized, and told the caller
that as a good-will gesture the next order would include some fancy
lagniappe at no cost to the customer. Presumably the blasts directed
at the store about its failure to include the promised lagniappe
finally got management's attention.

Joe Morris

[TELECOM Digest Editor's Note: There was an instance in Chicago
several years ago where the Probation Department of the Cook County
Court system printed up legal notices which were mailed out to all
the probationers -- millions of notices -- with the wrong number on
the form. Getting them (court officials) to even _listen_ to the
problem, let alone correct their stupid notices took a real act of
God, believe me. They just were not going to change anything
about their system. Now if you know Chicago, almost everyone gets
swept up in their system at least once; many folks more than once.
The trouble was sort of serious; all probationers were expected to
call that number (or at least the correct version of it) to do
something or other. It finally took a lawyer (whether he himself was
on probation or simply the counsel for someone else who was on
probation is not known to me; it could have been either way) to go
raise so much hell with them and get their damn forms reprinted with
the correct number. I think the attorney had to offer to file suit
against the court itself to prompt the correction of the form. PAT]

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