Don’t Call Canada

Now here’s a dirty little secret. Canadian phone numbers are not identified as such when listed in ads, on the internet, or wherever else they might appear. They look just like US numbers–same kind of 3 digit area codes, followed by 3-digit exchange numbers, and finally the last 4-digit set of numbers.You wouldn’t think this would pose a problem, and most of the time it doesn’t, except when you’re dealing with AT&T. And here it is: if you happen to call one of these incognito Canadian numbers from your AT&T phone (and I’m talking about land lines, not cell phones, and assuming you’re not paying the extra AT&T charges to let you call Canada and not pay a ransom), you will get charged over $1 per minute and never know about it until you get your bill–and then, only if you read it. It happened to me, and until I got charged $30 for 3 calls (totaling less than 20 minutes of talk time) to Toronto that I hadn’t known I’d made, I had no idea that calls to Canada are penalized by charging mega rates from the 1970s. Hiding this fact–that some numbers are Canadian–should be illegal.

OK, so first thing I did was call AT&T to find out what was going on with these charges, and subsequently waited on hold three different times for over 20 minutes each time before I got to a person. And each time after I finally got connected to a person, that person couldn’t do anything to help me–but it took each of these people a good 15 minutes each, with more lengthy hold times embedded in our time together, to figure that out. That’s nearly two hours of my time wasted, just trying to figure out what is going on and why I’m being charged exorbitant rates to pay for calls to “a foreign country” that I didn’t know I’d made. No one can tell me why Canadian phone numbers appear in disguise, requiring no country code to connect with them, as is required when calling other “foreign countries.” But now I can pretty much guess.

Who’s in charge of regulating phone numbers anyway? I need to know. Hey! I just googled my question about who regulates US and Canadian phone numbers and here’s what I got: USDA Regulates Pine Shoot Beetle Host Material from Canada. Now that was really a shock!

Pine Shoot Beetle Host Material and the USDA??? That’s what regulates phone numbers? That explains a lot. Obviously part of the cover-up.

What gives AT&T the right to sabotage its customers by not divulging which numbers are not US domestic ones, even though they appear that way? Now I have to call the USDA. I wonder what division? Oh yes, the Pine Shoot Beetle Division. Bet they’ll be surprised that I’ve cracked the AT&T code.

No wonder people are switching to AT&T’s competitors to provide them sneaky-charge free service. How long does AT&T think it can go on like this?

And now, the morning after, it’s Google to the rescue! They must have received my telepathic distress signal because today’s the day that Google’s phone service goes national! Talk about timing! (I didn’t even know this was in the works.)

No more Pine Shoot Beetle nonsense for me. Good-bye AT&T…I’m going Google!

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