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Phone-sex company stockpiling tons of defunct 800 numbers

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What would you expect if you were to dial the number 1-800-WORSHIP? Or maybe 1-800-METALLICA? Maybe some inspirational Bible quotes or a bitchin' shred, perhaps, but no: instead you'll be redirected to a phone-sex hotline! Because a little-known company called PrimeTel has been quietly gobbling up all the 800 numbers it can, often immediately after the old owner relinquishes the digits. And while PrimeTel owns the digits, they all redirect to operations, mostly of the dirty-talk kind, owned by a National A-1 Advertising, a company that just so happens to be in the same building and share some of PrimeTel's staff.

So, is it illegal? Maybe! While there's no law against promoting phone sex on a toll-free number — you have to give them your credit-card information before they charge you/get you so hot with their filthy fantasies, etc. — there is apparently a law against hoarding of the phone-number variety. Which is why the FCC has taken a new interest in this group that owns just over one-fifth of all 800 numbers. PrimeTel's attorney says they've done nothing wrong:

A lawyer for both companies, Charles Helein, would not discuss their business dealings in detail but said PrimeTel isn't breaking any rules or engaging in prohibited practices such as selling numbers or obtaining ones it doesn't intend to use.

"They are extremely sensitive to the FCC. … They wouldn't have them if they didn't need them," Helein said of PrimeTel's huge pool of numbers. He said the company's large share hasn't caused any shortages: "Everybody's got all the numbers they need."

Guys, they just really need that former teen AIDS hotline for sexy chatting right now, okay? For what it's worth, I called 1-800-WORSHIP, and here's what a female voice — in my mind I call her Brandi — cooed to me:

"Hey there sexy guy, welcome to an exciting new way to go live one-on-one with hot, horny girls waiting right now to talk to you. Lie back baby, relax. [Note: said as a snake would. Relaaaaaaahxss.] And get ready to meet real local students, housewives, and working girls from all over the country."

So remember, everyone: think twice about wearing that old promotional t-shirt with a toll-free number on it. Unless you think your friends might like Alice, a thirty-year-old homemaker/former auto-show girl who gets so lonely when her husband's on the road…