Re: Need Help With a Telephone Mystery

> [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] > Isn't this a variation on the sweet old lady who got caught in something > like that, and Telecom Digest published the correct number and asked > readers to call asking for her? After we brought their switchboard to its > knees, they fixed their mailings, put an intercept on her number to filter > her calls, and cleared the situation. It could well be both happened.

This may be more RISKS related, but ... at a previous employer, we had a complicated faxing solution for IC chip orders, and one of the Field Sales Engineers entered an incorrect number into the customer database. The fax number was subsequently never displayed, but the Customer Name And Billing Address was -always- displayed, thus hiding the incorrect fax digits. So, resultingly, 40-50 times a day a poor retired backcountry couple was inundated with beeps and boops and gave up hope on using the telephone regularly (a relative had a serious health issue and getting phone calls after midnight was frightening) until I audited the logs and noticed the connection errors and redials. I called them to apologize and on behalf of my former employer, and then offered to pay their phone bill for a month or so, while requesting a change to the database form to always display the fax number along with the Customer Name And Billing Address.

Bottom Line:

They could have found my desk line by 'dialing around' the displayed ANI, I now suppose, but ideas like that dont occur in those circles even though they knew enough to "*69" the displayed number anyway to try to reach someone.


[TELECOM Digest Editor's Note: I am reminded of the outlaw fax machine at the First National Bank of Chicago back in the 1970's. It was _supposed to_ call around to the various branches of the bank in the hours just after closing time each day and poll each branch for a report which was prepared by the branch and left on their fax machines for the polling process each day. Trouble was, the doofus who did the poll programming at the main bank (telling that machine what places to poll each night) somehow screwed up the programming and got one or two too many '1' or '0's in the dialing string. Ergo, the fax machine would faithfully at 6 or so each evening make a call to _Germany_ and get no where despite several tries. Manwhile it was about 2 a.m. or so in Germany, and these poor people at a residential number were getting at first quite annoyed, then later on scared by these calls coming in from somewhere. '*69' did not yet exist, at least not in Germany. so the only recourse the folks had was to file a complaint with Bundespost. Bundespost tracked it back to the United States and asked AT&T to get involved on it. AT&T tracked it down to Illinois Bell out of Chicago, and filed a complaint with them. In rather quick time, IBT found the source of the problem, but their fatal mistake was to simply ask the bank to correct the problem.

Of course, as in any bureaucracy, the bank simply ignored the request. When a second request came though from Bundespost about a _month_ later, that the problem was still going on, AT&T passed a second request on to Illinois Bell. This time, after getting no response -- or only a very non-committal response from the bank, Illinois Bell sent a registered letter to the bank, to the attention of the Vice President - Telecom informing him if the problem was not cured, pronto, Illinois Bell would simply disconnect the offending line and leave it disconnected. That brought the VP-Telecom down to the department in a hurry, with the proverbial axe in hand, ready to chop off someone's head if necessary or smash up the offending fax machine. The problem _did_ get cured, believe me, you.

And, ah, the bureacracy! Since telephone bills, especially with international calls on them always run a month or so after the fact in arriving, and since large institutions like the bank always get around to reconciling those bills a month or two after that, some two or three months after the incident, when First National Bank got a phone bill with several pages of one to three minute calls to the same number in Germany over and over and over, by then the doofuses at the bank had long since forgotten what they had done wrong to start with (did you ever try to punish a dog or cat even an hour after it had done something wrong? ... by that time the poor animal has 'long forgotten' whatever it had done wrong), quite naturally bank took the posture, "the phone company really screwed up our bill" and tried to avoid paying for their mistake. As usual, in those days, telco always wrote off customer mistakes, since they were easily bullied around on the payment of bills. PAT]

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Jay C. James
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