An advertisement for a trip in May 2022 to Israel and the West Bank

I just realized that every post this week has been some sort of back-handed gripe — on Monday, I wrote in praise of a cussing ban at Virginia Beach; on Wednesday, in support of a congressional move to require television commercials to turn down the volume so viewers don’t have to keep the remote in hand while watching TV.

Today I bemoan a problem that no one intended to create, but one that the cat drug in nonetheless. I’ve noticed lately that switching to a smart phone with a QWERTY keyboard brings many conveniences (such as making texting vastly easier), but also an inherent disadvantage: there’s no way to translate phone numbers displayed as easy-to-remember words or phrases.

Our dryer needed repairing recently, and when I set out to call the repair service, only my Blackberry was handy. I knew (because I’ve had to call it so much) that the Sears repair service number is 1-800-4MY-HOME — but without the traditional numeric keypad and its associated letters, I had no way of translating “MY-HOME” into numbers. I had to use the phone’s Internet capability to Google the repair center and click on the number, which the Blackberry conveniently turns into a link. Even so, it would have been preferable to simply dial the number straightaway.

Several other times in recent weeks, I’ve perused an advertisement or tried looking up a number only to find a toll-free word or phrase without so much as the numerical version written in small print below.

With increasing numbers of users choosing smartphones with keyboards rather than the traditional numeric keypad, businesses or organizations (including churches) who want their phones to keep ringing will need to make sure that potential callers know their number — not just their catchy letters.

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