Saturday, October 2, 2010

Past Deadline: Utah Calling

Regular readers know how much I dwell on sleep and the fact I’m not getting enough. Between working the night shift long after I should be in bed and kids and cats sporadically rousing me from slumber, I get a bit twitchy.

It would seem someone in the state of Utah has joined the conspiracy to make sure something or someone wakes me up every night.

It all started last week. I returned home one afternoon to find two messages on my answering machine – both of which consisted of three beeps. I checked the call display and saw that I had received two unknown calls that morning from two slightly different phone numbers.

“Telemarketer,” I thought. Whatever. In our house we tend to just ignore the telemarketers and eventually they go away.

That night, however, the game changed.

The phone rang at 2:15 a.m. In our world, a phone ringing in the middle of the night is rarely good news – it’s either an emergency or a drunk guy calling the wrong number. I shot up in bed and grabbed the phone, staring sleepily at the display. It looked like a 1-800 number. I was annoyed, but set the phone down without answering it. I was sleepy.

The message left was those three tones again.

Groom-boy and I fell back to sleep, only to be awakened by the ringing phone 45 minutes later at 3 a.m. This time I grabbed it and answered it right away – and was greeted by the squeal of a fax machine.

The home office has a fax machine, but it’s a different phone number. I quickly pressed a code to transfer the call to the fax (not bad for 3 a.m.) and received – a blank page.

The next morning (which felt like moments later) I looked closer at the number. It was not a 1-800 – the area code was 801. Utah. Some telemarketer in Utah is trying to fax blank pages to us in the middle of the night.


There were no calls the next day. Oh, no...they waited until that night – again at 2:15 and 3 a.m.
We don’t like to turn our phone off at night in case someone needs us urgently, but we turned off the ringer.

Since then, every night at almost exactly the same times, a Utah fax machine calls us twice and leaves beeps on our answering machine. And you can be sure that if we don’t hear the call, one of our children will wake us up instead.

I am so tired.

Needless to say, I made contact with the national do-not-call registry. I also lodged a formal complaint, providing all the dates and times of these calls, along with the six or seven different numbers emanating from the autodialler in Utah.

I tried calling the numbers myself and got a recording stating something like: “Two, one, five – test successful.” That is freaky. What test? Did I just activate some kind of telephone virus? At the very least they now know we officially exist. I tried faxing the numbers, but only got a rapid busy signal.

I got in touch with Bell Telephone and will be blocking the numbers. The nice Bell guy and I spent some time trying to figure out who was actually calling. We narrowed it down to the city of Ogden, Utah, but this is apparently a nameless, faceless entity.


I turned to Google University but had no luck, other than to learn we are not the only ones getting calls in the middle of the night from these numbers, too. Although misery loves company, I’m not feeling overly cheered by this fact.

My complaints about this issue have registered a lot of sympathy and many similar stories. One friend reported the same thing happened to her and continued for a year! I can’t tell you how excited I was to hear that news.

I’ll tell you this – if I ever find out what Utah is trying to sell to me, I won’t be buying it. Not only that, but I’m very close to taking a road trip down there with a baseball bat to smash up some fax machines. Wanna come along?

Published in The Perth Courier, Sept. 30/10
Edited to add: Our call screening service did not immediately work as the number was rejected. After a couple more calls to Bell, we not only lodged an annoyance complaint with them, but we were able to successfully block one of the numbers through call screening (thanks to some advice from a helpful Bell technician). We haven't had any calls for almost a week. Fingers crossed!

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