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To: uunet!comp-dcom-telecom@uunet.UU.NET
From: roy@phri (Roy Smith)
Subject: Re: Victims of Wrong Numbers
Date: 26 Jan 89 14:26:21 GMT

	My old 2nd line (i.e. modem) number used to differ by a transposition
(or some other small difference) from the financial aid office at New York
City Technical College.  This was no problem until they sent out a memo one
September to all their students with a typo on it.  Lots of wrong numbers all
of a sudden.  We eventually got somebody who was patient enough to help us
work out what happened ("where did you get this number", "it's on the memo",
"what memo?", "the memo I got in the mail", "would you please be so kind as
to read it to me", "...", "are you sure that's the number that's written on
the paper?", etc).

	Anyway, we called the financial aid office and complained.  It was
amazingly difficult to make them understand what had happened:

Me: Hi, you don't know me, but you sent out a memo telling people to call
your office and gave my number by mistake.

Them: What's your number?

Me: xxx-xxxx

Them: No, that's not our number, there must be some mistake.

Me: Yes, that's the point, you told people to call my number.

Them: No, I'm sorry, that's impossible, and we [getting a bit rude here]
really can't be responsible for people dialing a wrong number.

Me: Can you please go into your file cabinet and pull out a copy of the memo
and read it to me?

Them: I don't have a copy of it here, maybe you better talk to .....

	Eventually, I finally got some higher-up administrator to actually go
find a copy of the memo and read it out loud to me, taking her to task when
she read past the phone number, unconcously saying the correct number for the
financial aid office.  Long pause.  "Oh, we made a mistake".  No shit,
sherlock.  I eventually convinced her that it would be in both our best
interests' if she would send out a memo correcting the mistake: "Dear
student, please note that the phone number for the financial aid office is
xxx-xxxx, not yyy-yyyy as stated in the last letter.  She did so.

	Of course, next semester, some grunt took the memo out of the file
cabinet, xeroxed 100 million of them, and sent them out to all the students
again.  I'll leave it up to you to guess if they bothered to correct the
phone number before they did so.

	Eventually we took to leaving the modem on all the time.  Not really
very nice, but what could I do?  I would imagine I would be pretty frantic if
I got a memo saying "unless you call this office before next Friday, you'll
loose out on your financial aid" and every time I called the number, got
sombody screaching at me.  Could you imagine if you had a cellular phone and
paid for incomming calls and this happened?  The kicker to the story is a
little while after we took to modemizing people, we read in the paper that
some crazy person had walked into the financial aid office and started
shooting at random, killing several people.  Could it be that he was just
frustrated by getting a modem whistle at him whenever he called about his aid
package?  I hope not.
Roy Smith, System Administrator
Public Health Research Institute
{allegra,philabs,cmcl2,rutgers}!phri!roy -or- phri!
"The connector is the network"

From: Andrew Peed <motcid!>
Subject: Re: Phone Numbers on Credit Card Receipts
Date: 27 Apr 90 14:37:50 GMT
Organization: Motorola Inc., Cellular Infrastructure Div., Arlington Hgts, IL (Karl Denninger) writes:

>I'm not worried, but I AM damn annoyed.

>I used to never have to worry about Telemarketers.  Then I started
>putting my home phone number on the charge slips.

	I used to get a fair bit of harrasment from telemarketers
until I started taking the following approach:

	Me:	"My last name is spelled P - E - E - D..."
Their thoughts: "Peed?"
	Me:	"But it's pronounced "Stoatgobbler Mangrove."
	Tt:	"WHAT??"
	Me:	<CLICK.>

	None of them has ever had the courage to call back. 

Motorola, Inc.							Andrew B. Peed
Cellular Infrastructure Division			  ..!uunet!motcid!peed

Subject: 800 Wrong Numbers
Organization: Green Hills and Cows
Date: 27 Dec 89 11:02:47 PST (Wed)
From: John Higdon <>

One of the greatest annoyances connected with subscribing to 800
service is The Wrong Number. Naturally there are those calls where you
say "hello" (remember, I'm not a business) and the caller simply hangs
up. But what began getting to me some time ago was the pattern that
started emerging.

Idiot calls to my 800 number now fall into two categories:

1. Callers wishing to reach a local (SF) ferry and public
transportation service;

2. Callers wishing to reach the Hilton Hotel chain.

After blowing my stack when awakened at 5:45am by a woman who said,
"Isn't this ferries?" (I beg your pardon!!), I developed a new
approach. The moment I realize what the person who is on the line is
after, I take their reservation or give them what (made up)
information they seem to be seeking. Great fun!

A similar tactic is used for the Hilton callers. I used to take their
confirmed reservations, but lately I have informed them that Hilton
has gone Chapter 7 and that they should call 800-325-3535 for
reservations at Sheraton. "Are you sure?" "Well, I answered the phone,
didn't I?  We're just the cleanup crew, carting stuff out of the

Maybe this is all a bit mean, but after all I am paying for the
        John Higdon         |   P. O. Box 7648   |   +1 408 723 1395      | San Jose, CA 95150 |       M o o !

Reply-To: John Higdon <>
Subject: Re: Thurbing (was: 800 Wrong Numbers)
Date: 4 Jan 90 01:58:34 PST (Thu)
From: John Higdon <> (Roy Smith) writes:

> 	Shame on you!  Put yourself in the place of the person
> calling.  

No! You put yourself in my place. Just this morning I have received
five calls for Hilton. Each of these calls costs ME money, disturbs my
peace, interupts my tranquility. Is it my fault that idiots out there
can't dial their damn phone?

> [Description of consequences to unsuspecting person being duped by my
> dark humor.]
> Pretty cruel joke to play on some random unfortunate person.

The only thing cruel about it is that I would not have the
satisfaction of seeing it happen.

> [Moderator's Note: I admit it sounds funny....but it is not funny! As
> Mr. Smith pointed out, it is a dreadful joke to play on an
> unsuspecting person. Even a drunken patron of a public house deserves
> the courtesy of being told 'wrong number', even if you say it angrily
> and slam the receiver in the process.

It is ceasing to become funny. It's now damned annoying and I even
called Hilton and told them what was happening and what I was doing
about it. They said they were sorry, but they weren't responsible
(they aren't) and whatever I did with the callers was up to me.

Pac*Bell informs me that it will cost $30 to have my number changed.
That's really wonderful. And after I have had my number changed (and
suffered all the screwups that will go with it), will I then get
Sheraton's calls?

No, there's no point in having it changed. It would probably be
trading a headache for an upset stomach.

Late word: One of the last callers, after questioning, has informed me
that *my* number is listed as Hilton reservations in their local
phonebook. I'm going to get a copy of that book. If this is true, I am
really going to be unhappy paying $30 because of a Pac*Bell mistake.
And who do we refer *my* old number to, Hilton or me?

        John Higdon         |   P. O. Box 7648   |   +1 408 723 1395     | San Jose, CA 95150 |       M o o !

Subject: Those Wrong Numbers
Organization: Green Hills and Cows
Date: 25 Jan 90 12:57:57 PST (Thu)
From: John Higdon <>

Pac*Bell has just graciously changed my 800 number at no charge. Now I
can reveal just what idiocy was out there by talking actual numbers.

My old number was 800 445-8886. The two top wrong number attempts by
the dweebs out there were 800 445-8667 (Hilton) and 800 445-8880 (Red
and White Fleet). For the life of me, I can't understand how I got
those Hilton calls. But I finally found out the mechanism for all the
Red and White calls.

Last Monday, a woman insisted that I give her information about the
Richmond ferries. It seemed impossible to dissuade her. I answered the
phone, "Wrong Number", and then when she persisted I told her to try
again. She called right back. I told her to dial 800 445-8880. She
hung up and called right back again. I said, "Madam, what will it take
to get you to dial the correct number?"

She tried again. This time I was losing my patience. Suddenly the
woman asked, "Do you think that maybe I should use the oh on the
"Operator" button rather than the oh on the "6"?" That did it. It
became crystal clear that I would never be rid of the Red and White
fleet wrong numbers as long as I kept my current 800 assignment. I had
overestimated the intelligence of the dialing public out there and
that proved to be a major mistake.

When I related this story to my Pac*Bell rep, she agreed to a free
number change, which took effect this morning. I can't wait to see who
calls now!

        John Higdon         |   P. O. Box 7648   |   +1 408 723 1395      | San Jose, CA 95150 |       M o o !

Date: Mon, 4 Feb 91 17:07 PST
From: John Higdon <>
Organization: Green Hills and Cows
Subject: Re: Home Data Line (was: Data Interruption by Operator)

Todd Inch <gtisqr!> writes:

> We used to answer line two (when line one isn't busy) "I'm sorry, you
> have the wrong number."

You are absolutely correct: people cannot deal with a phone answered
in that manner. Throughout life, I have always had at least one
telephone line that was not only unlisted, but one that I had never
given out to anyone for any reason. If the line was connected to an
answerable phone, I would sometimes answer it in the manner you
describe. Most of the time people are just bewildered. But sometimes
they became hostile and insisted that I could not possibly know that
they had a wrong number without their announcement of whom they were
calling. Those were even funnier at times since I would begrudgingly
invite them to tell me to whom they wished to speak and then (with
greatly enforced authority) inform them that they had indeed reached
the wrong number.

Few people in our society can deal with the notion that someone would
have a telephone and not give ANYONE the number.

        John Higdon         |   P. O. Box 7648   |   +1 408 723 1395      | San Jose, CA 95150 |       M o o !

Date: Thu, 28 Nov 91 15:57 PST
From: (John Higdon)
Organization: Green Hills and Cows
Subject: Re: Making Annoying Calls *To* Telemarketers!

mole-end! writes:

> What about ANSWERING an unsolicited call in that way?  If I were to
> switch to heavy breathing when I discovered that I had been called by
> a stockbroker, or ask about the individual's intimate life, would I be
> breaking any laws?

My old 800 number used to receive wrong numbers for both a local boat
tour company and the Hilton Hotel chain. When I was feeling
particularly mean I would answer with either "Thank you for calling
Hilton", or with the name of the boat company. More often than not, I
would score and some unsuspecting person would book a tour or a room,
which of course would be non-existent upon arrival.

Somehow, Hilton found out about this and I got a call on my listed
POTS from someone proporting to be from the hotel chain. He admonished
me to cease and desist on pain of legal action. I told him that I
would be happy to stop when he would do something about his customers
bothering me and running up my 800 bill. I also told him that he had a
lot of nerve telling me what to do with my own telephone number. I
ended up by telling him that future callers would be told that Hilton
was no longer in business and would be given Sheraton's number.

Then I hung up on him. Oddly enough, the calls drastically slowed down
after that. However between the tour company and Hilton, I finally had
the number changed to protect my peace of mind and things have been
quiet ever since.

For those few "obscene" calls on any line, I use another approach
which seems to work quite well. A couple of weeks ago I got a call
from a whisperer who said, "I wanna _____ your _____." To which I
replied, "You wanna _____ my _____? Great! When can we get together?"
I don't think I ever heard anyone hang up the phone as fast as this
caller did!

A couple of years ago, my mother had a similar call. To the whispered,
"I wanna _____ you," she replied, "Sounds like fun. Where shall we
meet?" The caller, no longer whispering, declared, "Lady, you're
sick!", and hung up the phone.

        John Higdon         |   P. O. Box 7648   |   +1 408 723 1395      | San Jose, CA 95150 |       M o o !

Date: Tue, 3 Dec 91 01:51 PST
From: (John Higdon)
Organization: Green Hills and Cows
Subject: Re: Making Annoying Calls *To* Telemarketers!

On Dec 3 at  1:00, TELECOM Moderator writes:

> We have no evidence Hilton gave out
> John's number or in any way contributed to the problem.   PAT]

Possibly, but on those several occasions when I DID ask what number
the caller was dialing, s/he would say, "800 445-8886" (my number). In
those same instances I would ask who they were trying to reach
(invariably Hilton) and I would give the correct number. Two calls to
Hilton's national headquarters netted absolutely no help whatsoever.
NO ONE was even remotely interested in my problem.

It was after receiving no cooperation from Hilton that I started
taking reservations. This apparently had some effect since I got a
threatening call from someone at the chain telling me to stop it.
After that little threat, I started giving out "800 325-3535" to
callers. Then the calls suddenly stopped. When they started up again
from people trying to reach yet another company, I changed the number.

Hilton may not have been responsible for its customers getting and
using my number, but the company made no effort to help me solve the
problem. Contrary to what those of you who have bashed me in the
Digest and in e-mail have claimed, the reservation-taking was the
first EFFECTIVE thing that I did. It at least got Hilton's attention.
How did they know it was I? I told the person that I talked to on the
second call that if the wrong number calls continued what my course of
action would be -- and left my listed number. (Paul S. Sawyer) writes:

> For some reason, people who get a wrong number are hard to convince 
> that they could have dialed wrong ...

And for the most part they are very rude. Lately, I have noticed an
upsurge of wrong numbers on all of my voice-answerable lines. Over
half simply hang up the instant there is the realization that the
wrong number has been reached. Over half of the remaining start the
conversation with, "WHO IS THIS??!!". Most of the rest utter an
expletive or otherwise express displeasure (at me) for having stupidly
dialed the wrong number. A tiny minority have dialed the wrong number
correctly and are insensed that I am not the desired party. I am even
asked if I know where the intended callee might be!

And just a couple of days ago, a caller upon learning that she had
reached the wrong number simply said, "Oh, I'm sorry. Please excuse
the ring."

Now someone tell me: why, making forty or fifty calls a day, do I not
ever remember reaching a wrong number (at least in the past few
years), and yet I receive five to ten of them a day?

        John Higdon         |   P. O. Box 7648   |   +1 408 723 1395      | San Jose, CA 95150 |       M o o !

Date: Sat, 4 Jul 92 20:30 PDT
From: (John Higdon)
Organization: Green Hills and Cows
Subject: Re: Funny Advertising Goof-ups (Wrong Numbers) (Mark Walsh) writes:

> Before I decided what to do, somebody from the church called me up,
> profusely appologized for the error (5000 flyers had already been
> distributed), and invited me over for a free night of Bingo!

Wouldn't it be nice if it always turned out that way? Some time ago, I
had a number that was very close to 800 HILTONS. At one point I became
innundated with calls from people trying to book reservations. When I
called the hotel chain to see if there had perhaps been an ad with a
mistake or some other contributing factor for the wrong numbers, I got
the royal brush-off. Since the Great Big Corporation was not
interested in little old me or my problems, I used a retaliatory
method that if nothing else made me feel better. I am sure you can
imagine what it was.

Later, I changed the number. That ended the wrong numbers until
relatively recently. Suddenly, people started calling at ungawdly
hours wanting information about glass treatment. Turns out that a
company in Chicago had an ad in a national magazine with my number in
it! But this time, the firm came hat in hand profusely apolgizing and
made a deal with me. I agreed to allow the use of MY number outside of
the state of California (my 800 number is CA only) for a limited
period. Also, when I get that occasional wrong number from within
California, I refer the caller to the correct number.

It is amazing how one's attitude can be affected by willingness for
cooperation. I still have a bad taste in my mouth over the Hilton
inconvenience, but I gladly give out the glass treatment company's
correct number to callers (calling on my nickel, no less) several
times a week.

        John Higdon         |   P. O. Box 7648   |   +1 408 264 4115      | San Jose, CA 95150 |       M o o !

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