AAA office swamped thanks to similar telephone number

Saturday, June 28, 2003

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. -- A West Virginia AAA office received hundreds of unwanted calls Friday thanks to -- oddly enough -- the national Do Not Call list.

The Bridgeport AAA office at times had all six of its lines full of people who had misdialed the list's number -- 1 (888) 382-1222 -- by a few digits. Telephone registration for the list -- which prevents most unwanted telemarketing calls -- opened Friday west of the Mississippi and expands nationwide July 7.

By midday, six AAA employees had talked to about 500 callers.

"People in the office are kind of amused by it all and having a good time chatting with people from all over the country," said Wayne Northey, regional president of AAA East Central. But the mistake is also costly for AAA, which must pay for every toll-free call it receives.

As Northey tries to have his office's number disconnected, his staff is trying to determine how callers dialed the wrong number. Not only did they dial the wrong toll-free area code, but they also flubbed the prefix -- 388 instead of 382.

Northey believes some news organizations may have given the number out wrong, although a quick search of media Web sites works against that theory.

"I can't imagine there are that many people who can't dial a number," he said.


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