Odds & ends

Sunday, January 5, 2003

Ad error sends sales calls to 911 dispatch

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. -- An error in a newspaper advertisement touting a New Year's Day sale at a sporting goods store created extra work for some 911 dispatchers and police officers.

In the full-page ad that ran Tuesday morning in The Grand Rapids Press, the prefix for the telephone number of Dunham's Sports store was incorrectly listed as 911. The correct prefix is 977.

When readers dialed the first three digits of the incorrect phone number, their calls automatically went to the 911 dispatchers.

Many callers hung up as soon as they realized a mistake had been made, requiring dispatchers to return the calls to make sure there were no emergencies, said Jay Vermeer, dispatch supervisor for Kent County.

Some of the dispatchers' returned calls went unanswered, so police officers were sent to homes to investigate.

Vermeer did not know how many calls dispatchers answered Tuesday but estimated they received about 50 to 100 calls the next day. The newspaper published a correction Wednesday.--From wire reports

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