That Day Took Its Toll-Free On Everybody

, , , | Right | October 3, 2019

(I used to support dial-up rotary systems for a long-distance company. The rotaries were used to process transactions for credit cards, ATMs, lottery machines, etc. Being a long-distance company, any toll-free calls have to be sent over landlines from the local carrier to the voice switches in our central office. I get a call from a customer stating that their ATM can hit the secondary toll-free number to another long-distance carrier, but not our primary number, and their field tech is onsite.)

Me: *gives out toll-free number for my lab’s test rotary and has the field tech put that into the ATM*

Field Tech: “Nope, still not working.”

(I don’t see the call hit my test rotary. A call trace also shows the call never hit our switches.)

Me: “Can you call the test number on your cell phone?”

Field Tech: “I’m getting a ‘call cannot be completed as dialed’ with [code].”

(The code tells me that the call is getting to the last local switch, but not to us. If there was a problem on the landlines between us and the local carrier, we wouldn’t be troubleshooting a single ATM; all my customers would be yelling at me. We try a few more things for about an hour until…)

Field Tech: “I’m at [address], which is about ten blocks from the World Trade Center. Would that affect anything?”

(The date of this call is 9/18/2001. The local carrier’s central office suffered serious damage, including destroying the equipment carrying our landlines. The secondary toll-free number works because that equipment is on the other side of the building. All my other customers aren’t yelling at me because they READ the emails our CIO has been sending out with updates. I place everyone on hold, utter a few choice words, and then…)

Me: “[Customer], I’m forwarding you some pictures of the damage to the local carrier’s building, which should explain the problem. We won’t have working toll-free service for a while. I’m placing this ticket on hold.”

(After the call, I looked up the address, and it was WAY inside the exclusion zone where only residents, local workers, and first responders were supposed to be allowed. I figure the field tech came up with some song and dance, but for a single standalone ATM with a working backup?)

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