From: email@example.com (Barry Ornitz)
Subject: Local Telephone Company Assigns Same Number to Two Housholds
Organization: Eastman Kodak Co.
Date: Sun, 17 Nov 91 23:49:55 GMT
I learned late Friday afternoon (after business hours) that the local
telephone company has assigned another household the same telephone
number as ours. This was evidently done approximately three months
ago, and it certainly explains the very large increase in the number
of calls we have received for another party. I called the repair
office after verifying through the directory assistance operator that
indeed two households were listed as having the same number. The
repair office told me this situation would have to be handled through
the business office.
A few minutes later, two telephone company troubleshooters came
through my office area (ECC is putting in a fancy new phone system).
Since it was after normal hours and I was the only one around with
keys, they asked me to let them in a few laboratories. While talking
with them, I mentioned the problem with my home telephone. They said
this happens more frequently than United Intermountain [United
Intermittant] cares to admit. They said the most likely problem is
that the ESS was programmed improperly. They also said theft of
service was far more common than phone company also liked to admit.
In my case, since the other party was listed in the directory files,
they said the problem was in the ESS. I might add that I have never
picked up my home telephone and heard another conversation already in
The next day, a repairman came to my house to check my phone. He
plugged in his portable set, and when it worked, he declared
everything fine. He said it was impossible for the central office to
assign two lines to the same number.
Checking back through my past few bills, I can find no additional long
distance service charges. Of course I use AT&T long distance and it
is possible the other household uses another service.
I will call the business office tomorrow and complain loudly. I will
also call the state Public Service Commission. United Telephone
rarely listens unless you do this, and the commissioners love to take
every available opportunity to make the telephone company responsive
to their customers needs. I have found that getting the Public
Service Commission involved makes dealing with the phone company far
My questions to the telecom group are: how easy is it to assign
duplicate numbers on different lines, how are long distance charges
assigned back to a household (rather than a number), and is it worth
asking for credit for the added inconvenience and potential lost
service (and quite a few wrong numbers in the middle of the night)?
Barry L. Ornitz firstname.lastname@example.org
Eastman Chemical Company Research Laboratories
[Moderator's Note: First of all, *who told you* another party had the
same phone number? You mention you 'found out', but don't say who told
you or why they could not fix it. I think it is far more common to
have two subscribers on the same pair by accident rather than two
subscribers with two pairs but only one number. If you have never once
heard anyone else talking on the line; never once called and found the
line busy when you knew it should not be; never once come across
charges on your bill that should not be there, then I suggest you do
not have anyone sharing your number and/or your line. What probably
happened was the other party got listed incorrectly in the data base
with your number attached instead of theirs; no more, no less. The
large number of calls you receive for the other party is due to the
number of people trying to call the other party who check with
directory assistance for the number. Is it also in the phone book?
Have you yet talked to the other party to see if they consider
themselves to have the same phone number, or if they understand it to
be just a typographical error yet to be corrected, or something else.
If I were you, I'd approach the Business Office saying you believe
someone else has been listed in the directory data base with your
number, and let them handle it from there. And no, you have no
compensation coming. Your service was not interuppted. PAT]
From: email@example.com (Barry Ornitz)
Subject: Re: Local Telephone Company Assigns Same Number to Two Households
Organization: Eastman Kodak Company, Eastman Chemical Company Research Labs
Date: Thu, 21 Nov 91 05:19:43 GMT
In article <firstname.lastname@example.org> email@example.com writes:
> I learned late Friday afternoon (after business hours) that the local
> telephone company has assigned another household the same telephone
> number as ours.
----- Much deleted -----
> [Moderator's Note: First of all, *who told you* another party had
> the same phone number? You mention you 'found out', but don't say
> who told you or why they could not fix it.
To start with, my wife was told by a member of the other household
that their number was the same as ours. She called me at work, and I
called local directory information since the other party was not
listed in the telephone book. The directory information operator
verified that both the other household and ours were listed as the
same number. They referred me to the repair service. The repair
service told me that they would file a service request, but that this
problem had to be corrected by the business office as they had no
capability of assigning or changing numbers. The repair service did
send a lineman by our house on Saturday to check our line. He told my
wife it was IMPOSSIBLE for two pairs to be assigned the same number.
> I think it is far more common to have two subscribers on the same
> pair by accident rather than two subscribers with two pairs but
> only one number.
Quite true, especially when theft of service occurs.
> If you have never once heard anyone else talking on the line;
> never once called and found the line busy when you knew it should
> not be; never once come across charges on your bill that should
> not be there, then I suggest you do not have anyone sharing your
> number and/or your line. What probably happened was the other
> party got listed incorrectly in the data base with your number
> attached instead of theirs; no more, no less. The large number of
> calls you receive for the other party is due to the number of
> people trying to call the other party who check with directory
> assistance for the number. Is it also in the phone book?
I have never heard anyone else talking on the line, but I have called
and found the line busy when it should not have been. I have never
found any unexplained long distance charges, but I should point out
that the other household used a different long distance carrier. The
other household began their service about three months ago, after the
directory was published.
> Have you yet talked to the other party to see if they consider
> themselves to have the same phone number, or if they understand
> it to be just a typographical error yet to be corrected, or
> something else.
Only once when the other party spoke to my wife. They claimed their
number was the same as ours. I have tried several times recently but
always got a busy signal.
> If I were you, I'd approach the Business Office saying you
> believe someone else has been listed in the directory data base
> with your number, and let them handle it from there.
I spoke with the business office Monday morning. They said it was
impossible to have identical numbers with two different pairs. I told
them about the information from directory assistance, and they again
said this was impossible and that I was obviously mistaken. The
business office then called directory assistance and checked on the
number of the other party. It was the same as mine except two digits
had been transposed. I asked if they had corrected the problem
between Friday when I reported it to the repair service and Monday
morning. They said they had no way of checking on this, and that I
was still obviously mistaken and wasting their time.
Not liking to be called a liar, I then called the repair service.
They told me that the other party had not filed any repair orders but
they had my complaint from Friday evening. I asked if the problem
could have been corrected between then and Monday. The clerk ran
through their files and found where the lineman who had come to our
house had filed a change order for the other people's line. They HAD
corrected the problem after all.
At this point I called the Tennessee Public Service Commission. The
commissioner listened to my story and said that the telephone company
was certainly wrong to deny there was ever a problem and accuse me of
wasting their time. He said he would call the telephone company to
insure that this kind of problem could not happen again and that the
other household was treated properly also.
On Tuesday after lunch, I had a message waiting on my answering
machine from the business office. I tried to return the call, but
twice got a single ring tone followed by a dead line when I called the
business office. I probably should have called the PSC back at this
point, but instead I called the business office in Bristol, TN, the
central business office in this area (long distance, by the way).
This time, I was finally able to speak with someone who at least
understood a little of what I was talking about.
I learned that the original service order for the other household was
entered correctly. However when the number was entered into the
"processor" (basically their version of the ESS from her description,
she had never heard of an ESS), two digits were transposed. The
second line pair was assigned the same number as ours. I was told
that there are occasional legitimate reasons for having two pairs
assigned the same number, so the "processor" did not flag the problem.
The correction was indeed made after the change ordered by the
lineman. They were not sure how the long distance charges were sorted
The woman at the business office then apologized for the way I was
treated and said they certainly had made no attempt at a cover-up, and
that the error was entirely a human one. Since I had never, ever,
mentioned anything about a "cover-up", I suspect the PSC commissioner
got a little carried away when he spoke to them. I did tell the woman
that the business office certainly seemed inept, especially
considering the dead lines when I tried to call them. She agreed that
they did have problems, especially with their attitude towards
customers. I told her that the repair service, on the other hand,
seemed very helpful and competent. I told her that I had also told
this to the PSC; she said she would ask the repair office manager to
commend his staff.
> And no, you have no compensation coming. Your service was not
> interrupted. PAT]
I did not think so either, but I would still like to awaken the person
responsible a few times in the middle of the night! ;-)
I would like to thank you for your comments, PAT. I would also like
to mention that while speaking to the PSC commissioner, I strongly
endorsed the ISDN services being considered by the PSC. The CATV
people in Tennessee have been fighting ISDN tooth and nail.
I would also like to add that until about four years ago, United
Intermountain Telephone System in Kingsport still used Strowger
step-by- step equipment for large portions of the town. This was
sitting in a room next to the latest fiber equipment (my exchange was
one of the first to go fiber). When the Guatemala telephone system
went to crosspoint, UTS bought much of their old Strowger equipment as
spare parts. I believe crosspoint switching is still used in parts of
Barry L. Ornitz firstname.lastname@example.org
Date: Mon, 25 Nov 91 09:04:01 CST
From: Patton M. Turner <email@example.com>
Subject: Re: Local Telephone Company Assigns Same Number to Two Households
Barry Ornitz writes:
> The repair service did
> send a lineman by our house on Saturday to check our line. He told my
> wife it was IMPOSSIBLE for two pairs to be assigned the same number.
> I was told
> that there are occasional legitimate reasons for having two pairs
> assigned the same number, so the "processor" did not flag the problem.
This is exactly what is done to create an OPX (off premise extension).
This allows the service to be setup in software. At least a few years
ago an unnamed REA sub'ed telco still used scotchloks to create OPX's
even on SPC switches.
REA = Ripoff Enhancement Artists
Pat Turner firstname.lastname@example.org KB4GRZ @ K4RY.AL.USA