Thursday, 20 October 2016
The sign has two phone numbers. Both numbers are Bracknell numbers.
Bracknell is not somewhere that is split up but different groups of numbers or anything, so it is not like one number is obviously one part of Bracknell, and the other for a different part or something like that.
There was no clue as to which of the two numbers one should phone under what circumstances, and so it is simply that they have two numbers.
Their web site suggests only one address, but even that shows both numbers. WHY?!?
I am guessing here, but I think I know what is going on. Once upon a time, if you had a small business and a phone line, there would come a point when you would realise that one line was not enough. So you get a second line.
People would just order a second line, which would get a second number. The problem is that people calling would have to try both numbers if the first was busy. People would publish both numbers, so that people could try both, and also as a kudos thing "we are so big we have more than one phone line".
The daft thing is that this was probably never sensible. From the earliest days of electro mechanical exchanges it has been possible to get auxiliary working where you have more than one line on the same number. At one time this was done where you would actually have a small block of numbers (e.g. 10) where the main number would jump over the busy lines to get to a free one using an electromechanical device (uniselector). It meant one could call the other lines by a direct number if you wanted to. Electronic exchanges did this all in software and there was no need for these extra hidden direct numbers, but there was a service for them (bypass number) if you wanted.
People still wanted the kudos of multiple lines and you would see signs with "(10 lines)" on them after a number. Ironically, at my office (A&A) we really have no idea how many "lines" we logically have, and I suspect thousands of simultaneous calls could come in if necessary (not that we could answer them all).
Even 25 years ago we had two analogue phone lines on the same number in my house in Bracknell on a system X exchange, and we had 2 (free) bypass numbers as well. I have just got the main number back and ported to VoIP for the hell of it, in fact.
There is one exception, but I doubt it applies to a funeral home - where taxi companies take over another taxi company they keep the number as lots of people have it. Even so, you may as well only advertise the one number (whichever is easiest to remember) even if calls come to the other number still. I can't see people having a funeral home on speed dial or muscle memory in the same way as taxi numbers, can you?
Of course, these days numbers are just an arbitrary routing thing and we can point numbers to multiple devices and allow multiple calls on the same number - being tied to a physical line is long in the past.
And yet, a recent sign on the road for a local company lists two random phone numbers and not just one. Maybe funeral homes are just living in the past.
I was also bemused by formatting. Yes, 6 digit local numbers are often shown XXX XXX style, or just as XXXXXX with no space, but their number is 883322 so why not show as 88 33 22 or 883322 instead of deliberately breaking the nice and obvious pattern by printing as 883 322?
Yes, this is the sort of strange thing going through my head as a passenger in a car...