Missing Phone Owners Calling the Wrong Phone Number Causes Confusion

Thousands of phones are stolen daily, eventually bombarding the cellphone companies with tonnes of complaints on a regular basis. So what can these companies do? It’s simple: strengthen their customer support service by hiring more people. Or simply redirect phone calls to someone else’s number.

This is what happened with Wayne Dobson, a 59-year-old retiree residing in North Las Vegas, who now receives calls all day long from frustrated cell phone owners. The smartphone owners (who have lost their devices) think they are calling the cellphone company’s customer care number, but the truth is amusingly different: someone else is picking up their calls.

It gets worse: he’s sometimes called a cellphone thief.

Dobson doesn’t like this. The owners, who are already panicking over their lost smartphone, are not interested to know the truth either. The frustration goes beyond phone calls. Many have visited Dobson’s house.

As posted on Review Journal:

Dobson’s misadventure started in 2011, with a knock on the door around midnight on a weekend. He opened the door and found an upset young couple demanding that he turn over their phone.

Dobson was confused.

“I’m standing there and I’m thinking, ‘What are they talking about?’ ” he said. “They might as well have said, ‘Give me my horse back.’ ”

After debating back and forth, both sides called police. When officers arrived at his home, near Craig Road and Donna Street, Dobson expressed his confusion.

“I just said, ‘I don’t know these people; I don’t go where they go.’ I’m 59 years old. I don’t care about these technology pets they have.”

The problem appears to be limited to Sprint phone owners. While we put our mind to work wondering how could a cellphone company unintentionally transfer calls to another phone number, Sprint’s Spokeswoman Rachael adds:

“We will research the issue thoroughly and try to get to the bottom of what is going on and if it has anything to do with our company.”

Update: The Verge has received a statement that explains the glitch. “Mr. Dobson’s plight isn’t a glitch per se, but a consequence of his home being located in the middle of one of its cell sites’ coverage areas.”

Here is the entire statement:

“Sprint has researched this matter and has determined it is not related to a “glitch” or issue with Sprint’s network or systems. It is a rare occurrence which is unfortunately affecting Mr. Dobson. This issue is apparently caused by the fact that Mr. Dobson’s home happens to be in the center of a geometric circle denoting the coverage area of one sector of a Sprint cell site. This information would be provided – for example when someone uses an app to search for a lost phone – as a result of a location-based search when a more precise location of a device is not readily available. Location search results in cases like this are intended to be interpreted as anywhere within a several-hundred-meter-wide circular area – not the center point of the circle itself. We sincerely regret the inconvenience experienced by Mr. Dobson.”

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