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Alphabetical Phone Numbers: 223 872245489

What? You don’t know what “223 872245489” means?

Guess what, I didn’t know what this meant either:

An ad using an alphabetic phone number

The alphabetical phone number must have been a marvel back in the day when Ma Bell leased you a phone, but in the age of cell phones where price and button real-estate is at a premium, I found myself baffled as to how to call. Why? My phone doesn’t put the alphabet on the buttons; nor does the screen simulation have them.

Why would you not make the image hot-clickable to a real number? Or under the FAQ list the phone number as something besides the alphabetical number? I understand on the front you want to keep a consistent “hey we’re easy to call” thing going on – but somewhere, give me the freakin' digits already. I suspect this is one of those arguments that a design person had to suffer, and lose, to some marketing guy:

DESIGNER: “But it’s not usable. How will people call us if they need to”
MARKETING APPARATCHIK: “They will dial 800-2REVIEW”
D: “Right, but say they need the number”
MA: “They will dial 800-2REVIEW”
D: “Yes but you see there’s no numbers there, you might not be able to dial it on a phone”
MA: “Sure you can, just dial 800-2REVIEW”
D: “But can’t we put the digits there somewhere”
MA: “Why would they need that, they can dial 800-2REVIEW”
D: “Sometimes the people, they like to see the numbers, you know: people with visual impairment, for example, or say their phone doesn’t have the letters on it”
MA: : “Why would a phone not have letters on it”
D: “Dunno, I hear some people use cell phones”
MA: : “Well, we’re not going to let their defective phones ruin our consistent marketing image”
D: “But…”

By the way, here’s what 223 872245489 translates to:

2 2 3 8 7 2 2 4 5 4 8 9

B A D U S A B I L I T Y

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