Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Phone Number Acronyms: In a Texting World, Let’s Stick to Digits

Sure it’s fun to tell people your phone number spells “WINDBREAKR” but we store those numbers in our cells and don’t think about them again until we lose/break/drown our phones and send a mass email. But that’s not my point.

In the 1920s, phone numbers that spelled a word were clever. “Hi Gladys. Ring me up KL5-GAMS – I need to hire a flapper, a floor-flusher, not a heeler but a real Oliver Twist for the big hop on Saturday.” In those days, there were party lines and operator-assisted dialing and very few phone numbers and exchanges.

With the advent of toll-free numbers (virtually meaningless in a cellular world of whenever-wherever-whatever-minute-loaded plans), companies needed their 800 numbers to be memorable, so they turned to acronyms (words).

“For the best in indifferent customer service, call us at 1-800-ANYWHO.”

But, here’s my problem. I’m in texting mode these days. When I dial 1-800-ANYWHO, it looks like this:


Because I’m dialing 1-800 then spelling ANYWHO like a text.

A is 2, N is 66, Y is 999, W is 9, H is 44 and O is 666 (yikes!)

Of course, it only takes 10-digits to dial someone in the states, so HO (44666) is completely ignored and I land in a completely different indifferent customer service phone-tree hell. But there are enough blogs about that topic.

So let’s stick with phone numbers and leave the acronyms for the corporate geniuses who need to have a nickname for their projects, just like their little buddies.

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