Nine hundred numbers are less of a concern in our house than they might be, or so I thought, because we don't have a touch-tone phone. Shows you how much I knew about them. This week's cover story was an eye-opener for me: I found out that I can get live, not recorded, legal advice on simple questions -- or my horoscope -- even with a rotary phone.

Although free-lance writer Arlene Ehrlich's story is a much broader one than just the downside of 900 numbers, she did entertain me with some prime examples of how they can be misused.

For instance, a Seattle television commercial instructed children hold their telephone receivers up to the television speaker. The TV then emitted tones that automatically dialed a 900 number, which connected the children to a second merchandise pitch. Or the taped messages on several 900 numbers that offered an address people looking for job leads might write to. The messages were repeated so quickly that callers had to redial several times, at $18.95 a call, to get all the information.

Arlene's story will tell you all about the 900 number explosion of the past few years, plus a little bit about the technology and their history. She even has a sidebar on her own experiences with dialing 900 numbers, although she was too chicken to try any of the sexy ones!

Copyright © 2020, The Baltimore Sun, a Baltimore Sun Media Group publication | Place an Ad