Toll-free vanity phone numbers are not only easy to remember, but after the end of a long advertising campaign a good vanity phone number can be remembered for years. After a law firm discontinued a two-year advertising campaign with 1-800-HURT-911, calls continued to come in for another two years.
That’s the problem with the New York State DMV hotline 1-800-DIAL-DMV. Due to budget cuts, the toll-free vanity phone number was dropped by the state 18 months ago and that’s when the problem started.
A certain telephone company, well-known to the toll-free industry, just waits for a number like this to be dropped and immediately grabs it before anyone else can get it. Even worse, they never give up the numbers and cannot be forced to even if the number was trademarked, because they don’t use the number in a way that infringes the trademark.
Why do they grab these numbers? When people call these numbers, they connect the callers to sex lines. And that’s left the New York State DMV rather embarrassed.
The local TV news reported today that 18 months later callers are still calling 1-800-DIAL-DMV and reaching a sex line called Intimate Encounters. But don’t try calling it unless you want to risk the service capturing your phone number (you cannot keep your phone number private when calling a business which only works when calling another residence).
The smartest solution would have been to license the number to the DMVs in other states and put advertising on the line which would have earned money for the New York State DMV instead of costing money. Other solutions could have been to keep the toll free vanity phone number and block the number from callers in New York State or put a recording on the line telling callers to call a local phone number. This would would have allowed the state to consider other alternatives and would have prevented it from being used as a sex line.