I have a personal stalker.
I hate phones. Yet, a few months ago, probably brainwashed after my French trip (Europeans love their cell), 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 many, many 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. This is the official name, the “shiny phone.” Seriously, only Richard Branson would think of such a name.
Early October, my cell phone buzzed during one of my classes. 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 specialists 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, many people were reporting calls from that same 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 cannot 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 every day 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 centre 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!