Posted by Brian @ 9:39 pm on June 8th 2008

Landline landmines: is it 1+503 or 503?

If you live in Oregon and are unfortunate enough to have Qwest as a “service provider” for your landline, there is a very special game you get to play when you make a call to the 503 area code. Sort of a landline landmine.

Some numbers in the 503 area code require that you dial a 1 first. Most do not. You’re supposed to know that a given number lies outside of some imaginary geographic boundary around Portland. Apparently Qwest thinks we have telephonic geolocating chips embedded in our heads.

This shameful tactic was attempted years ago in Los Angeles where the population quickly rioted and a technical fix was just as quickly produced. My mobile phone dials all 503 area codes (in fact all area codes) without a 1 first and so should my landline. And I don’t want to hear about the difficulty of programming physical switches or the upgrade costs. This just shows a complete and utter disregard for the value of their customer’s time. VoIP here I come.

The Qwest managers responsible should have their phone service “enhanced” so that every time they dial someone a randomly generated number is required to make it go through. For the rest of their lives. If the managers guess wrong they will be informed of the correct number by a piercing three-tone bell and a garbled voice remarkably similar to the cassette tape-based system Qwest uses today to inform their customers when they blunder into the 1+503 landline landmine.