My Personal Stalker

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In The Shadow

In The Shadow

I have a per­sonal stalker.

I hate the phone. But a few months ago, prob­a­bly influ­enced by my French trip, I bought my very first cell phone. I shopped around before­hand and dis­cov­ered the cell phone mar­ket is quite a scam here. Most providers (that is Bell, Rogers and Telus) lock you into a three-years con­tract (three years!) and there are a lot of hid­den fees (sys­tem access fee, net­work access fee, acti­va­tion fee, 911 access etc.). I ended up buy­ing a month to month pack­age from Vir­gin Mobile.

And I went hap­pily with my new shiny phone. That is its real name, the “shiny phone”. Seri­ously, only Richard Bran­son would think of such a name.

Early Octo­ber, my cell phone buzzed dur­ing one of my class. I checked the missed call num­ber at the break: 905−297−4280. Didn’t know the num­ber and besides, the call was from Toronto. No mes­sage. I quickly for­got about it.

Or at least, I tried. That day, I received over ten calls from that same num­ber, and still no voice mes­sage. I didn’t pick up the calls because I would be charged for that (another perk of our great cell phone plans — we are charged for air­time even for incom­ing calls, check­ing voice­mail etc.).

After a few days of con­stant call­ing, I phoned Vir­gin cus­tomer ser­vice. Not some­thing I like to do. Vir­gin prides itself on being a young & hip com­pany, and when you call them you can expect:

  • Annoy­ing lan­guage: “Please wait while we hook you up with one of our cus­tomer care spe­cial­ist but just so you know… we may record this call just to make sure we are treat­ing you real nice!!!!!
  • MTV-like music: “if you want to chill out, press 1, if you want to get pumped, press 2″. I basi­cally have the choice between a headache and a headache.
  • Unso­licited adver­tis­ing: yes, I know I can sign up for online offers, I know that I can down­load music, I know that etc.

I explained my sit­u­a­tion to a very cool dude: could he block that num­ber? He basi­cally told me to fuck off. Well, he said I should “get rid my friends on my own”. And hung up. So much for cus­tomer service.

I was still receiv­ing up to 30 calls a day from 905−297−4280, so I called cus­tomer ser­vice again. A much nicer woman told me she had blocked the num­ber. That would have been great… only if I hadn’t received another call a few min­utes after hang­ing up with her.

Mean­while, I did the sen­si­ble thing to do: I googled the num­ber. Appar­ently a lot of peo­ple were report­ing calls from that num­ber. A lot of us had no clue who was call­ing. Some had taken the call and reported tele­mar­ket­ing from the CIBC ( a bank), a McCain sup­porter call (from Ontario?!), or just a man ask­ing weird and per­sonal ques­tions. In my opin­ion, this wasn’t tele­mar­ket­ing: nobody is crazy enough to harass peo­ple for days, espe­cially day and night. I smelled a scam. But which one?

For the two fol­low­ing weeks, my per­sonal stalker didn’t stop. He would call ten times in a row and then noth­ing till a few hours later. I started get­ting calls early in the morn­ing, at night, in the mid­dle of the week end. I got very angry. I called Vir­gin again.

I spoke to another woman. She said she would check my incom­ing calls — so much for pri­vacy… The task was easy: look for a 905XXXXXXX num­ber in the mid­dle of a few 613XXXXXXX. Couldn’t find it. I then asked her to check the last incom­ing call since M. Per­sonal Stalker had called just a few min­utes ago. She read a num­ber aloud. Mine.

So appar­ently, all these 905−297−428− calls are some­how hid­den and show up as my own phone num­ber on the log. Only I can see the num­ber on my phone caller ID and missed calls.

I then found myself explain­ing that no mat­ter how hard I try, I couldn’t fuck­ing call myself! “This is weird”, she acknowl­edged, “I will pass it on to the tech­ni­cians, and they will call you back”.

And so I waited for a call back. A week. Two weeks. I called Vir­gin twice and had to repeat the whole story (which is quite com­pli­cated), and each time, I have been told that yes, the tech­ni­cians would get back to me. I had also asked for a copy of the “user report” (basi­cally, my out­go­ing and incom­ing calls) to check that num­ber for myself. It had never been emailed to me. I spelled my email address three times. They always got it wrong, or so was the excuse.

Yes­ter­day, I had my final con­ver­sa­tion with Vir­gin. I called again, since no one ever got back to me. The phone num­ber can not be blocked. Appar­ently, this is against Virgin’s pol­icy. Now, if only I had the great-and-expensive-Nokia-phone, I could do it myself…

Fuck off. I’m not buy­ing another phone just to stop harass­ing phone calls. Fuck Vir­gin (yes, I real­ize these are weird words combination).

I still receive tons of calls every­day from that num­ber. My “per­sonal stalker”.

What both­ers me the most is that I’m sure there is a trick, a scam some­where, but I don’t know where.

  • I don’t think this is reg­u­lar tele­mar­ket­ing: no call cen­ter would call 30 times a day, plus they would even­tu­ally give up con­sid­er­ing I have never picked up the phone. Espe­cially after a month…
  • I don’t under­stand why the real num­ber doesn’t show on Virgin’s logs. Why does my own phone num­ber show?
  • Who is call­ing me? Accord­ing to the peo­ple who did pick up, it’s not con­sis­tent. I feel that if some­one picks up the phone, the caller make it sound it’s a telemarketing/ political/ what­ever call.
  • I tried call­ing back, but the phone just beeps, can’t reach.

If you can help me to solve this mystery…

And you. Yes, you. Stop calling!

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About Author

French woman in English Canada. World citizen, new mom, traveler, translator, writer and photographer. Looking for comrades to start a new revolution.

39 Comments

  1. Dont u know? The phone com­pa­nies hire these peo­ple in hopes that you answer the phone and increase your long dis­tance bill. More $ for the big 3.

  2. I have an HTC Leg­end, which comes with the handy option of select­ing any num­ber in your address book and have it auto­mat­i­cally be sent straight to voice­mail when­ever it calls.

    I have a list of about 10 of these weird tele­mar­ket­ing num­bers in there. (If you’ve got an iPhone or an Android you can also down­load apps that will block cer­tain numbers).

    What I don’t get: none of these num­bers leave mes­sages. Nobody on the other end ever talks to you and if they do, they hang up quickly or ask non­sen­si­cal ques­tions. If it was a real tele­mar­ket­ing scam, they’d be try­ing to get you to buy some­thing, wouldn’t they? Or get your per­sonal info?

    I’ve been get­ting calls like this for four years and I have no idea what the point of repeat­edly call­ing some­one when you have noth­ing to offer, want noth­ing from them, and there’s usu­ally nobody on the other end.

    I sup­port the the­ory that it’s phone com­pa­nies try­ing to rack up bills. Noth­ing else makes even the slight­est bit of sense.

    • This arti­cle is a bit old, at the time I had a sim­ple phone that didn’t allow me to block num­bers. I have a Black­Berry now and I’m pretty sure some appli­ca­tions would help me deal with the prob­lem. But so far so good, no more weird calls!

      And I agree, it just doesn’t make any sense. Never found out what hap­pened with that num­ber, and what was that all about!

  3. I just received a call from this num­ber. It was strange and puz­zling until I read your story. Sorry to hear your frus­trat­ing expe­ri­ence. Sounds like a real night­mare. My mother had some­thing sim­i­lar to this hap­pen with her cell phone and she switched providers shortly after.

    I do hope that’s the last time I receive a call from this num­ber (on my land line). I just pur­chased the most expen­sive set of cord­less phones and I’m frus­trated that there isn’t a basic call block fea­ture built in.. we’re now in 2012 after all.

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