Angela Natividad's Live & Uncensored!

17 December 2007


Q: Why do businesses still use phone numbers with words in them?

Once upon a time, this used to be a great promotional tool. But who still owns a landline with letters printed on the digit buttons?

This could be one of my "d'oh!" moments, but it's becoming increasingly frustrating to have to remember where all the letters should be when I need to call the bank (1-800-TO-WELLS) or some other people I must call for reasons that have nothing to do with pleasure (888-PEST-CTRL).

Then there's the Q and Z factor.

Whose idea was it to omit Q and Z?

And whose idea was it to decide those letters were OK to print on phones, just shy of the cell phone boom?

*throws imaginary landline across the room in Hulk-like rage*


Jimmy Little said...

For a decade I had the number JAM-KIWI, which everyone remembered. But as someone who used to have to call US companies from Britain or Australia — companies whose only internatonal support or contact number would be something like 1-800-GET-UNIX — I sympathise. Even if I could have worked out the US-specific letter / number mapping, I couldn't have accessed a 1-800 number anyway.

But the same thing's happening with URLs — why get a catchy or relevant URL if the vast majority of your users or clients will just use Google (or whatever) to find and refind you? And it's not so much about printed key numbers as about bookmarks and in-phone address books. Memorable numbers belong to the pre-digital era in the same way that memorable URLs belong to the pre-bookmark era…

Anonymous said...

this is from CNN poll today:

Quick Vote

Do you still have a land line telephone?
Yes 74% 44712
No 26% 15330
Total Votes: 60042

Angela Natividad said...

I own a landline telephone. It's not, like, plugged in or anything.

JL -- I never made the URL connection.