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The number you are dialling is annoying

Since the great 416/647 split of 2001 most of us living in Southern Ontario have become accustomed to dialling 10 digits to make local calls. I haven’t.

While I rarely forget to dial the area code (416, 647 or 905), I often mistakenly dial 1 first as if I were dialling long distance. In either instance, I am informed of my mistake by a robot and forced to hang up and dial again.

Dear POTS head executives:

  • In the instance of a superfluous 1, why not connect me anyway? (warning optional)
  • In the instance where I neglect to include the area code, why not assume I mean my area code and proceed with the call? (warning optional)


  1. 1: Cellphone carriers, including Bell Mobility, do the “connect anyway” thing and I’m hoping Bell Canada will eventually copy it for landlines. (This is actually a Canadian-only problem, as in the USA a “1” does not mean “toll call” as it does here, but instead means “area code follows”.)

    2: This one’s complicated. But as an example, if you were in 905 (where some calls within the area code are long distance) and dialed 1-848-1234, the phone system wouldn’t know whether you meant 1-(905)-848-1234, or 1-(848)-123-4xyz in New Jersey and hadn’t finished dialing yet. It used to be that area codes looked different from local number prefixes, but as they started “overlaying” area codes (e.g. adding 647 to 416, and 289 to 905) they were forced to drop this distinction.

    Other countries, such as France and Australia, have adopted a solution that I wish we also had in North America: switch from 7- to 8-digit local numbers. Then the area codes could have stayed exactly as they were: the 416/905 split wouldn’t have been needed, nor the 416/647 and 905/289 overlays. Instead we have a confusing mess, and instead of needing to dial 8 digits we need to dial 10.

    By the way, Ryan, the “Preview your comment” link while entering a comment does nothing but bring me back the same page, without the addition of a preview.

  2. Thanks Rohan! Looks like comment preview never worked in this theme. Until I have time to remove the link and fiddle with affected layout, I’ve renamed the link to “Top of page”.

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