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A Number with History

Phone KeysYou may remember that BT managed to foul up the take-over of an existing line when we moved in January.

Well now we have started to receive calls for a decorating firm. The first couple were taken by the answering machine, so we ignored them as wrong numbers, but I spoke to one lady last week.

“You’ve got the wrong number” I said.
“No I haven’t, it’s on the side of your van”
“I don’t have a van, are you sure you’ve got the right dialling code?”
“Yes, it’s on the van”

I asked her where this van was, and went to look. Sure enough, there’s our number on the side of the van. I knocked on a house door and it appears that the number is correct, or rather was correct. The decorating firm used to have our number before moving, but hadn’t got round to changing the number on the van.

Fair enough, but what is extremely annoying is that when I ordered the line from BT, they assured me that it had never been used for a business purposes.

Congratulations BT, you’ve screwed up again.

I sent a complaint via BT’s website:

When I opened my account with BT, I was assured that the number given had not previously been allocated as a business number. However, we are now receiving calls for ‘xxxx Decorating’. I have managed to track down this firm who confirm that they used to have our number before they moved.

and it is clear from the response, that they completely failed to understand the problem:

Thank you for your e-mail regarding your recently obtained BT telephone number.

Please accept my sincere apologies for the inconvenience caused.

Unfortunately BT have to recycle telephone numbers, and in the years previous to your having this number a customer may have had it, and not requested it to be ex-directory. Once a telephone number has been registered on a calling list it will remain on it until has been removed by registering the number for the Telephone Preference Scheme.

However, I can arrange a renumber for you, free of charge.

Once again please accept my apologies for the inconvenience and distress this may be causing you.

It has nothing to do with being on a calling list and therefore nothing to do with TPS. However, if they had bothered to actually check anything, they would have seen that this number has been registered (by BT on our behalf) with TPS since we got it.

Update – Jan 2008

At the time I discovered the van in question, the decorator assured me that he was getting the number on the van changed that week. It is now nine months later and I was recently annoyed to find that our number is still on his van. I used to pass on his new number to potential customers, but since he doesn’t seem interested in us being inconvenienced by calls for his business, we now simply tell callers they have the wrong number.

Update – Mar 2010

Three years later, his van still shows our number.

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