Wrong numbers

Listen up, catalogers: Proofread your phone numbers before you go to press. This sounds like a no-brainer, but if a mistake can happen to L.L. Bean, it can happen to you. When the outdoor apparel mailer dropped its L.L. Kids edition in August, it accidentally ran two phone numbers: the correct 877-LLB-KIDS, and the wrong 800-LLB-KIDS.

The catalog company says the incorrect 800-number was a dormant number that once belonged to a children’s clothing business. But it was hardly dormant to the Virginia woman whose telephone began ringing off the hook on Aug. 6 with customers trying to buy kids’ clothes. Luckily for Bean, the woman kindly forwarded calls and took messages until the problem was resolved (about 36 hours later).

Another case of mistaken telephone identity involved racy lingerie and gifts cataloger Secret Passions. Two years ago, the Chapel Hill, NC-based mailer changed its customer service number – but forgot to change the number on its order form. For the past year, Secret Passions’ customer service calls rang to an 86-year-old woman in a nursing home.

The elderly woman – who just thought she was getting a lot of wrong numbers – might still be fielding such calls today had her son not answered her phone this past July. After the caller demanded to be taken off the lingerie mailer’s list, he asked her to send him her copy of the catalog. When the catalog arrived, sure enough, there was Mom’s number listed as the service contact.