Tag Archives: telephone

The 411 on 411………………

I have a teenage son, so in addition to everything else I must accomplish in a day, I am also a chauffeur extraordinaire.  

My son and his friend wanted to see a movie. So I had to decide which was the lesser of two evils – him sitting in a dark room playing Xbox with people who might not really exist – or taking him to a movie with his friend (who happens to really exist) to sit in a dark room and watch characters who definitely do not exist.

Xbox is free – the movie costs money and taking them required me to get off my b.u.t.t. and go out in the heat. So off we go to the movie where I can at least pretend he might have some real-life human interaction.

I drove them to the theater and dropped them off and told them I would be back in 2 hours.

I ran a few quick errands and got back to the parking lot and waited. And waited. And waited some more.

With my keen powers of deductive reasoning, I started to think that the movie might actually be longer than 2 hours.

So, I called information (411) to get the number for said movie theater. And, yes, it was the movie theater that I was parked right in front of and yes, I could have just gotten out (and walked all the way across the street) and simply asked the movie professionals what time the movie was over. And yes, it turns out that would have been m.u.c.h. faster. But that would have left you without the absolute pleasure of reading about my 411 experience. (See the sacrifices I am willing to make for you, dear readers?) Plus it was hot outside. And I (thought I) had technology on my side.

I dialed 411 and was asked the city and state. Told them. Was then asked what listing I wanted. Told them.

Dead silence.

Then this……”Ma’am, there is no listing for that number. Are you sure there is a movie theater there?”

I have to say I was pretty surprised by that answer. If I was looking for a sherpa at the foot of Mt. Everest, I might understand the no listing response. But I was asking for the number of a movie theater – in a pretty big town. Seems that would be kind of a routine request. It seems the 411 operator might have some knowledge of how to find that nugget of info.

I told her I was pretty sure. In fact, I was sitting right in front of it.

She checked again and started to believe that either aliens had either abducted the movie theater and taken it back to their home planet or I was nuts.

But she simply said, “Ma’am, I cannot find that listing.”

I know that the price of 411 calls has gone up, so I said, “you won’t charge me for this call, right?”

“Uhm, Ma’am, when you call four-one-one, you are actually paying for the service not the results of that service. Yes, we will still be charging you.”

Excuse me?

So, you basically call me a liar, liar, pants on fire for asking for a number that (according to you) does not exist – you do not give me said number – and you are going to charge me for service? Did I miss something?

“Yes, you are paying us to look up the number – whether or not we find it. I can transfer you to our service department if you would like.”

That would be marvelous.

I got transferred to a new chickadee who could also not find the number. I also asked her if I would be charged for the call.

“Yes. You are paying for the service.”

Got it.

I showed great restraint and did not ask her which  dictionary (or language) she was using to define “service” because not giving me what I asked for me and then charging me for it does not really equal “service” in my dictionary or my wallet.

I asked for a manager and the second chickadee told me she could transfer me to 611 – their customer service department. Being a customer who would like some actual service, I asked her to transfer away.

Then I heard “beep, transferring your call to 611” – and then – and no, I am not kidding – “your call cannot be completed as dialed.” And then another beep.


The bottom line here is that two different 411 operators could not find the number for a movie theater in a major metropolitan area and one  of them was incapable of pushing three numbers on her phone and following it up with hitting “send” effectively and I was going to get charged – wait for it – one dollar and seventy nine cents for their “service”.

Deep cleansing breath.

My blackberry has a web2go feature – so I entered (correctly) the search terms: movie…. theater….name of the major metropolitan area… and wahlah – the name, number, address, and movie listings came up for said theater.

After calling the number and asking when the movie was over and doing some pretty high level math, I realized I was an hour early for movie pickup.


Plenty of time to call TMobile and ask again why I was being charged to not get a telephone number.

TMobile was all loverly. That spunky little chickadee even said – and I quote – it doesn’t really make sense that they could not find the number of a movie theater in a major city. That isn’t very helpful is it? (Yes, I think I love her.)

She held my hand and dabbed my wallet and told me she could remove the charge.

Now we’re talking.

And to fully absolve TMobile of any wrongdoing, she kindly explained that 411 is its very own entity and calls are not routed through or in any way handled by TMobile. And it turns out that you do in fact get charged whether or not they give you a number – and even if they give you a wrong number.

But it also turns out that you can call your carrier and have that charge removed.

I heart TMobile. 411 – not so much!

Pick a card, any card………..

There are so many “different ways of doing business” that you must navigate when you move somewhere new. One of the things that I did not realize I would miss about the United States was the ease of getting phone numbers or addresses or just information in general.

There is no directory assistance here. (Well there might be – but it is a well kept secret.) If you want a phone number, you have to know someone who knows the phone number. It is really crazy. I am yet to see a telephone book (except for the school’s directory – God love them). But what we all do have is a flippin’ stack of business cards. Literally hundreds of them. Everywhere you go, you get a business card. And you are hesitant to get rid of them – because you just might want to call that vendor one day. And when you do want to call a vendor, good luck figuring out which card is who.

And the internet is not always that helpful. Many of us have shared our frustrations of trying to find a business or address on the internet – you can literally get lost for hours in the land of nothingness.

Heck, most stores still calculate the bill by handwriting it and then doing the math manually – then rechecking the math with a calculator. So the fact that they don’t have a web presence really is not surprising.

Just the other day, I asked our cook to order some groceries to be delivered (yes, that is back when I had a cook). I knew that he was rewriting receipts so I did not want him to go himself. But the market delivers and then I pay the bill. Fabulous.

Now, just so you fully understand – this is the same market that we have been shopping at ever since Francis started working for us – 7 months ago. And they have delivered groceries many, many times to our house.

So a whole day goes by and no groceries come.

The next morning, we have this conversation…

Francis: Ma’am, I could not order groceries.
Me: Okay, why?
Francis:  I don’t have the number.
Me: Of the shop we have been ordering groceries from for months?
Francis: Yes Ma’am. But I have the number of his brother’s shop.
Me: Can you call his brother and get the number?
Francis: I tried. No one is answering.
Me: So, you really don’t know the number? That you have been calling for 7 months?
Francis: No Ma’am.
Francis: Yes, Ma’am
Me: I’ll get it for you.

So, I went into the pantry where we have about 15 canvas bags (all of which Francis put away) from this market shop. Each bag has the address, phone number, and name of the store printed in l.a.r.g.e. type right on the bag.

Francis: Oh, thank you ma’am. (awkward laughing)
Me: Make sure you get their card.

Alphabet soup…………..

Just in case you don’t remember every single post I write – here is a link to how numbers are “said” in India. It was called double oh seven.

Basically, for the number 911 – you would say nine double one. Sounds simple enough, right? Maybe not so much.

Well, today I learned that the alphabet can be equally confusing.

My name has a couple of “double” letter sets and one “w”. Which apparently can be easily confused with double “u” – although I have never seen a double “u” actually used anywhere.  (Well maybe in the word vacuum – but I was not calling a vacuum shop – I was calling a lab for blood work. Not exactly the same same. And, yep, I will fill you in on how I have become a science experiment very soon.) Just to make it more fun, my name only has one type of letter of the vowel persuasion – there are 5 of them – and they are all the same vowel. So in the 11 letters in my name, there are lots of repeats. In fact, in those 11 spaces, there are actually only 5 different letters. Yep, lots of repeats.

Does that make it hard to spell your name on the telephone to someone whose native language is Hindi? Of course it does. (Honestly, it wasn’t that easy in the U.S. either because my street name has all the same problems as my name.) But throw in accents – mine and theirs – and it gets a wee bit harder.

My big challenge today was to explain that it is “w” not double “u”. It doesn’t seem like it should be that hard – does it?

Oh, my friend, I blog to differ……………..  😎

Double Oh Seven…..

There are a lot of things that are different here in India. Most of them are pretty easy to adapt to. Some of them are causing me to stumble – not trip and fall – just stumble a tad.

Telephone numbers here are written differently. Not a big deal. But the way you say them makes me pause everytime. Talk about slowing down my ears.


How would you say that number?

If you are American, you would probably say

Nine – Seven – Four – Four – Four – Zero – Eight – Seven – Seven

If you are in India, you would say

Nine – Seven – One – Triple Four – Zero – Eight – Double Seven

If you have been here a while and stayed with your Hindi lessons, you would say

Nau – Sat – Triple Car – Sunya – Ath – Double Sat

Be careful before you going around impressing all the ladies with your Hindi skills – the words aren’t pronounced like they are spelled – another stumbling block – for example, ath is “ought” – at least I think it is. AUGH.

Now, I know why James Bond is Double Oh Seven – it sounds a little better than Zero-Zero-Seven.