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Hey, everybody, it's us and we're here to talk to you about, get this, our book, we have a stuff you should know book coming out this November, and you're going to love it and you can preorder it now.


That's right. It's called stuff you should know in an incomplete compendium of mostly interesting things. And it's been a lot of fun to work on. And we're really, I mean, genuinely excited about how this thing has come together. Yep. It's twenty six Chunky Harry chapters that are just going to knock your socks clean off. And yes, Chuck, we are indeed proud of this book. It is truly indubitably the first stuff you should know book and it's coming out this November and you can order it now.


Preorder everywhere you get books. So do that. And we thank you in advance.


Welcome to Stuff You Should Know. A production of I Radios HowStuffWorks. Hey, and welcome to the podcast, I'm Josh Clark, there's Charles W. Chuck Friant, there's Jerry over there. And this is stuff you should know. Thank you for calling one 800 podcast. Go ahead, caller. Oh, that would be great, Chuck. I get that. We need to get that before we release this episode, because some somebody somebody maybe arrest Borg person is going to snag that and we'll have to pay through the nose for it.


I thought there were so many very interesting things about this very seemingly mundane topic. Oh, yeah.


And I just think it's interesting that 800 numbers.


Seem like something that would have gone the way of 900 numbers. Mm hmm. But they're still around. And the days where the Internet is thriving and the Yellow Pages are I mean, do they still have Yellow Pages?


I think. Yeah, I don't know.


I think I think I remember this one comedian years ago was talking about the phone books when people are still getting phone books. Right. And he was the joke was something about dropping out.


Let me drop off four pound, very small portion of the Internet on your front porch, but then they just stop doing that altogether.


Yeah, I know that they were doing it as recently as a few years back because they would get dropped off once in a while at the mailboxes that are condo. And so, I mean, within the last ten years for sure, five years maybe, I think is the last time I saw one. So maybe they stopped because I haven't seen in a little while. But yes. So toll free number is eight hundred numbers. They persist. They do, and they really do.


So this this HowStuffWorks article, I think the last the last number they had was from 2008 and it said that there were 24 million working toll free phone numbers in North America. And if you don't know what we're talking about, we're talking about free phone numbers apparently in the United States. We call it toll free numbers everywhere else in the world or the English speaking world, at least it's free phone numbers, one word.


So there were 24 million in 2008.


But get this, since the advent of 800 numbers, they've released one, two, three, four, five, six, seven different prefixes of toll free numbers, everything from eight hundred eighty eight eight eight seven seven, all the way down to eight. Three three is where we're at now. And I did a little math. I'm kind of proud of myself for this one check. So bear with me for a second. For a seven digit number, you have nine million total possible combinations because it starts technically with one million and goes up to nine million nine hundred ninety nine thousand nine hundred ninety nine.


So you have nine million total combinations in there. So each of those prefixes allows for nine million combinations. So there's at least if there's seven prefixes, that means that there's at least fifty four million plus. A toll free numbers in use in America today to justify that many prefixes.


You know what? I can't wait for what that mass person to write in and. Correct. You do it. No, no, no. Josh, that's you forgot about blank.


I will argue with you all day long. I got this right. I got it right for once.


Lots of toll free numbers. And like you said, they go down to eight, three, three. Now, I think eventually they're going to get eight two two eight eight eight eight seven eight eight eight nine involved never eight one one eight nine nine apparently.


Yeah. Supposedly someone found an ancient text in Aramaic that predicted that if eight one one were ever instituted, that's when the universe ends. Can't do it now. So when you dial a number what this is all about and actually two things. What it used to be about was largely for when calls cost money to make long distance, it was a way to route that charge back to the person you're calling.


Yeah, it was an automatic collect call. That's right. So if you are you know, they advertise it as toll free, don't have to pay a toll on it. We're going to eat that cost and you'll know it because it's an 800 number.


Then over the years, it became more and more of a sort of just if you want to be a legitimate business and especially a regional business or national or international business, then you kind of had to have an 800 number even once. Toll's phone charges and things and long distance kind of became a thing of the past. It just became sort of a I mean, sort of a calling card, for lack of a better word, as, hey, we're a legit big company.


We've got an 800 number exactly where the third largest maker of banking trundle beds. Here's our 800 number.


And in the old days. I mentioned the Yellow Pages where you would advertise it's so quaint to think about now. Oh, man, it is where you had to advertise in this big yellow book about your business. Yeah. And let your fingers do the walking. But back then, it was also 800 numbers were a way that you could save money by not having to advertise in the Yellow Pages because you've got, you know, one 800, you know, housepainter.




Or this article is HowStuffWorks article cites a construction company, Funny, called Asphalt Sources Inc, which got, I guess it Kachi 800 number and downsized their YellowPages ad and saved more than twenty seven thousand dollars by doing so. Yeah, and to be honest, it probably didn't hurt that they were also cited in a HowStuffWorks article about toll free numbers.


Yeah, that was that was clunky, but definitely an example of how things used to be.


Yeah, but but that's the point of 800 numbers. And that's also, from what I can tell, the reason that they still persist today is that if you have a catchy 800 number, like you said, it makes you seem like a player as far as business goes. But also it's a way to advertise like I I haven't seen the Empire today ad in three to five years, but I can tell you that the numbers still 800, 588 to 300 empire today.


You remember that one cars for kids. I don't remember that one one eight seven seven cars for kids. I've never heard that one really. But I would probably remember that one.


Yeah. I mean, and we'll get to that a little in a little more depth. Those are called vanity numbers. Sure. But yeah. And there are statistics and they are pretty stark. And how much people remember that compared to just some regular old number.


Right. So there's reasons for 800 numbers and the fact that they're still around, there's reasons for that, too. But they they started all the way back in 1967. And it's like you said, it was a way to to make it easy for people to place collect calls, which was there were two ways to to make a long distance call. Either you paid for it yourself, it showed up on your phone bill, or you could call the person you were calling collect, which meant that you get you down the operator.


You said you wanted to place a collect call. The operator called that number for you and said, hey, I've got Josh and Chuck on the line. Will you accept the charges is what they asked. And the other person would inevitably say no and hang up. If it had been somebody else, they might have said yes. And then that person who was receiving the call, they would be billed for that. That takes a lot of time and effort for a phone call or for a phone companies operators to do that.


So the whole point of 800 numbers was to automate the process, to take the operator out of it. And so the person would say, I'm receiving these calls at this. No, go ahead and bill me for them just without even asking. Yeah.


And I think that story illustrates why I believe my theory is correct, that Genex is the greatest generation. So great man, because we we saw those early days that now feel like we were in the 1920s with stuff like this and three TV channels growing up or three major networks rather.


Sure. But we're also we're young enough to where the technological boom didn't confuse us. Right. Or pass us by or pass us by. And we've got we could dip AHTO into both. You know, we could grow up on 70s music and also go to a EDM concert. Right. Without like being weird. Yeah, I think you're right, Chuck.


We might be the greatest generation. We're the perfect generation. Perfect. That's right. I guess Greatest Generation has taken.


So yeah of course in 67 it started, like you said, in the very first business to have an 800 number, apparently was a company that just hosted numbers for other companies, mainly like car rentals and hotels and stuff like that.


I think they were like a call center. Yeah. And so they went out of business and then all those businesses that were using them said, oh, well, we got to get 800 numbers now ourselves. Right.


But the thing is, is AT&T was the only one with 800 numbers because back in the day, AT&T, also known as Ma Bell, was like the basically had a monopoly as far as telephones were concerned in the United States illegally.


So hopefully. Yeah. And so if you wanted an 800 number, you went to AT&T, you got your 800 number, and then you paid through the nose for it. They would charge many, many times more than they would have charged the caller had. The caller just had been billed themselves for placing this long distance call just for this toll free service. And that's just the way it was until I believe, 1984. It was 1984 when trustbuster Ronald Reagan saw to it that Ma Bell was broken up into all the regional bells.


So then, of course, when that happened, that opened up the world of competition and the telephone industry in the United States kind of for the first time, and then, of course, what happens is the cost to get an 800 number. It goes way, way down. You can get a lot more businesses getting them. And then it just sort of became the standard for any business that wanted to be even, like I said, a regional business.


There is also a really big innovation that gets overlooked, too. That was actually created by a guy named Roy Webber, who was an AT&T engineer, and Roy Webber basically figured out how to use 800 numbers, not as phone numbers that were connected to a certain point in the telephone system, but as basically a code that could be translated at a database into instructions are like, hey, here's this number they put in. What are the instructions for this?


And in doing so, he figured out how to make toll free numbers go from regional to truly national, because up until 1980, you had to have a regional toll free number for each region. And if you were a national company like, say, Hertz or something like that. Right. You had a dozen or more toll free numbers that you had to manage. Thanks to Roy Webber, who patented this by AT&T, owns the patent. So he saw Jack from it besides a salary.


This changed everything and made it a truly national thing to wear one one single 800 number could serve the entire country for a business. And it made the whole thing a lot technically smoother, too, from what I understand.


Yeah, that was sort of one of two big things that happened. The other one was in 1994 when a law was passed that said you can put your phone number between carriers. So if you're with one carrier and you're not too happy, back in the old days, pre 94, that meant you had to change your telephone number. And that was no good for a business that was trying to grow or a business that was already big especially. And so that ninety four law guaranteed that portability.


You could take your phone number with you. And that was a really big, big kind of sea change in the industry. Yeah.


You could pick up your phone number and carry it across land to the next body of water.


That's right. Should we take a break. Yeah. All right, let's do that. OK, Chuck, um, so we're at, what, nineteen ninety four when we could port our phone numbers? Yeah, and that was kind of the last big change. That's when things started growing so much that they had to I think in 96 they introduced eight eight eight ninety eight.


It seems like every couple of years they started introducing new what are they called prefixes.


Yeah. Yeah. Prefix exchanges. Yep. So we're down to eight three three. Right.


I think that's where we are currently. And then I've never seen that though have you.


I have not. Not that I've ever noticed, but now I don't I don't even pay attention. I don't call anything. I just go online. If I have to call I'll call. But I don't like it at all in most of the time. When I do, I'm just looking it up on my phone and clicking like the call thing. I very rarely type in a number anymore. And yet, bizarrely, 800 numbers haven't gone anywhere. And again, apparently it's because of the the whole marketing thing, which is why they're still around today.


Yeah. And then one other kind of like connection to the the the information age, the age of the Internet and computers and all that stuff. Um, that 800 numbers have is that there is a period from about two thousand seven, eight, nine, maybe up until about 2014 where the concept of a city like a provider paying for your data when you went on to a certain website. So they had a website where they wanted to teach you all about their new phones or something like that, you would not be you wouldn't be using any data while you were on that site.


And they originally called it one 800 data for interesting. And then they dropped that around twenty fifteen and that was that.


So here's something that I found that is so boring that I found so weirdly fascinating, and that is the notion of the responsible organization. Hmm.


Maybe it's because it's the name, it just sounds really weird.


It sounds like a Scientology like like a little subsection or the Recip Org. Yeah.


So when you call a well, first of all, all these all these numbers, all these 800 numbers are housed in a database called the 800 Service Management System, the Esme's 800. And they know every single exchange of the 800 variation. And if it's available, if it's being used and how to root them. And if you want one of these, you have to contact something called a responsible organization. And that's just not a descriptor like, all right, I'll contact UNICEF because they're pretty responsible.


Pretty responsible. It's called a responsible organization. It's basically like a domain name registrar for telephone for 800 numbers.


And it could be a company that does this or you could be a human being at home in your basement that has set yourself up to be a resp. Org.


Yeah, you just have to be certified by the FCC. Um, I'm not sure how I didn't get to see how, but once you are certified, then you have access to this database and you can legally say, nope, this number is now taken by this person. I think you just have to it alone.


All right. You're right. They're watching you. And if you help an old lady or man across the street in front of the FCC building in DC, they take notice. Yeah, sure. You're responsible. Just one big test. But the the RESP or I think what bothers me is that stupid abbreviation for Cyborg. Yeah. Respawn and the always capitalized, even though it's one word as an abbreviation. But the point is it can be anybody. At first it was just phone companies that were able to do that and then it kind of became more democratized in the nineties.


And that from that point at the moment, it became democratized. It became corrupt almost immediately.


Yeah, I mean, corrupt in the sense that it's I think some ne'er do well, some non responsible people say, hey, this would be a pretty easy way to take advantage of people by acting as a middleman and charging someone 50 bucks to say I can find them a toll free number. Here you go. Here's your number.


Right, which that in and of itself, there's no problem with that. And apparently the FCC doesn't have any problems with that. If you set yourself up as a service. If you're really doing it. Yeah. Yes. So if you if you say, OK, you can come to my website and you can look up a number and I will try to find it for you. And if it's available, I will I will get it for you.


And I'm going to charge you a fee for that. There's nothing wrong with that morally, legally or otherwise. The problem comes in where some of these Remsberg say, yes, it's 50 bucks to search. And then, oh, yeah, this this number that ends in pain pay in, that's going to cost you an extra grand. That totally flies in the face of the FCC rules surrounding phone numbers of any kind, including toll free numbers, which is that they're they're meant to be totally neutral.


You're not supposed to be able to profit off of a phone number whatsoever. You can profit off of the search and all that stuff. But a particular phone number is not supposed to be doled out on a first come first serve service basis with zero zero dollars attached to it whatsoever. And that's just not how it works.


Yeah. So you can't give somebody if Dr. Payne wants one 800 or Depayin T Payne tooth pain. No, just t pain. Your dentist can't get that one. No, because deep pains. Got it.


Well, they could get it, but they can't pay extra for it. It's first come, first served always.


You are only allowed to subscribe to the amount of toll free numbers that you actually intend to use. You can't just go get a like lock up a bunch. Right. Kind of like you can do with domain names. Actually know that. Think about it. Yeah.


You can't do that with 800 numbers. Can't do it. You also to prevent this kind of hoarding, they mandate that you allocate that reserve number within eight months.


So it's got I guess it's got to be in use within once they have terms for this actually brokering is selling and profiting from numbers. Yeah, there's hoarding and then there's warehousing. Warehousing is where you you take numbers even though there's there's no one that you're directly getting it for. And then hoarding is getting a bunch of numbers sitting on them and selling them. And this is a big no no. But for a very long time it seemed to the FCC and the people running the FCC that it was not worth enforcing.


Right. Till I guess it got kind of kind of Wild West. And there was a company called it Connections that was fined three point seven million dollars. They sound so sketchy already into the. Oh, yeah. These are all like spam kings who came up with a sideline of like selling telephone numbers. And their whole thing is, no, they're just performing a service. And then when the FCC says, well, then why isn't your service the same?


Regardless of any number, they say, well, this is all just supply and demand. Well, there's not supposed to be any supply. And demand is supposed to be first come, first serve. But that's apparently they just look the other way until I believe twenty, seventeen, eighteen when they it connect or connection company got hit with that. Fine.


You know, those types of places disgusts me more than just about anything. Yeah. Yeah. It's the ones that like you know what I'm talking about. Like Oh yeah. The people that are like looking, just looking for the loopholes to exploit so they can rip someone off.


Yeah. The kind of people who carry like a neck brace in their back seat at all times in case.


Yeah. Get rear end or like IP trolls and uh yeah. I mean we can't go down that road too much, but the podcast industry, you know, kind of went through a pretty famous situation like that a few years ago. And, um, I don't know, man, people that just just go out and do some hard work. Yeah. You know, stop, stop speculating. Don't look for the angle.


Right. You know, to get rich. Yeah.


Because you're not creating anything. You just sucking the life out of God.


It's just so upsetting setting. Like you said, the FCC wasn't paying a lot of attention. So these things have been sold on eBay to it, big fat price tags and beyond. Just the FCC not paying attention is apparently the rest Borg's. It's just hard to keep track and they can be disorganized. Yeah, there's no real system to get it all cleaned up. And so inadvertently, this can happen to.


Yeah, there was one famous case, though, too, that that went to circuit court. I think maybe I don't remember, but there was a Mercedes dealer in Minneapolis and St. Paul who had since the eighties eight hundred Mercedes. And it went to pure gold. His Yeah. He said that he thinks he's. He cites that as reviving just kind of a ho hum Mercedes dealership that that phone number, so he wasn't about to give it up when Mercedes came around and said, hey, we want that for our national customer service.


He said no. And they sued him for it. They basically tried to get him on copyright infringement. And I guess the judge or the jury found like, no, you can't like like a toll free number is not copyright infringement. And so, Mercedes, to this day, you have to call 800 for 4r Mercedes, which does the other thing. Chuck, you know, my famous dislike of acronyms that don't include a word. Yeah. A phone number or a toll free phone number that includes letters that go beyond the number of possible numbers you can use.


That really bugs me, too, I think, because it was it wasn't until I was in my 20s that I figured out what was going on. Yeah. Like, I would type the whole thing out, like, you know, connect. And I'd be like, I'm not done dialing yet. I bet it was satisfying for that judge to be able to shoot down a big corporation like that under the, you know, prior settled law of you snooze, you lose.


Sorry, Mercedes. Yeah, just because you're huge sorry.


Finders keepers and you snooze, you lose. Man, wouldn't it be like kids court? Yeah, I know that. A show. Captain Kangaroo Court. Yeah. Come on.


So I think it's high time, Chuck, since we were talking about the eight hundred Mercedes case, the very famous legal case in the United States, we talk about vanity numbers because that is as vanity and no as there ever has been. The singer vanity could have a phone number and it still wouldn't be more of a vanity number than eight hundred Mercedes.


Yeah, you know, we mentioned it earlier. These are pretty tremendous advertising perks for a company.


If you get it, if you land on a 800 flowers or one 800 go FedEx, you've struck gold because that will stick in someone's head.


They have done studies over the years. There was one where they showed an 84 percent improvement and recall over numeric phone numbers and from like a TV ad or a billboard. Yeah. And if you're listening to the radio, it goes from 72 percent recall to five percent recall.


If it's got a catchy little jingly, especially when there's a song attached to it, a toll free vanity number.


Yeah, that's a huge, huge difference. Absolutely true. I can't imagine how much money FTD has gotten from that one 800 flowers phone number is out there.


Yeah, I think they even have I think their website is one 800 flowers dot com. They they got in there early.


I guess all these. Yeah, all these generic ones though, they know how to work the system and push people around better than Mercedes's lawyers do. Yeah. They send in the guy with the little winged hat and loincloths.


What starts shoving people around isn't one that feeds. Oh, yeah, yeah, I was describing the premise. You're like, why do I have a video camera on me, right? Yeah, no, it totally was. He was Hermès, Hermès or Mercury, I think so.


I mentioned, you know, those good generic ones. It is great if you have one 800 flowers, of course. But they interviewed someone for this HowStuffWorks article who knows a lot about this stuff, Quamby and they say and Quamby says, yeah, you know, these generic ones are fine, but they're all taken. What you really want these days is to get in there and actually try and say something about your company as well. Right. So instead of one 800 car loans, it's one 800 quick loan or one 800 fast closer.


That to me would be a red flag to stay away from that mortgage company. You think that's closer? Yeah. One 800 fast. Closer. Yeah, which is and you'll note that it doesn't have to be seven digits. It can be over seven digits obviously, which drives me batty. Why. Just because the extra number. Yeah.


It's, it's just not, it's, it's not, it's not. It's missing the mark.


So anybody give one, two, three, one, two, three. So that would be one 800 fast. Khlo.




Just go with that and then make it part of your add that this is silent or one 800 click quick loan would be one 800 QUICA closure.


Yes, I would remember that. I would remember that. I feel like we should get an 800 number.


I, I had the same thought actually. Did you really. Yeah. We got we do with it.


800 podcast is actually perfect or we do that. I don't know, we could, we could leave messages on it once in a while or crude instructions. We could do a nine hundred number. Yeah. Make some cash and we'll talk about that right after this.


So, Chuck, you're right, a 911 makes way more sense because we could be rolling in it if it were 1990.


Yeah, I think younger listeners might not fully appreciate the fact that there was a point in time. How many years did this was less than 10 even. Yeah, it was the heyday was basically 87 to I think about 93, 94 people really figured out what a rip off it was.


Yeah, yeah. About six years. There was a time, a six year period in this country where you could set up a nine hundred number. Mm. That was uh it could be anything but anything.


It was basically an audio message of some kind. Yeah. And people would pay. A ton of money to call in, to speak, to hear about the Kiss Army or to hear about Tiffany the singer, or Grandpa Munster or the psychic hotline or the morgue, Miss Clifford, sexy roommates like you name it. Yeah, yeah.


A lot of them especially were what would they call the phone?


Sex. Phone sex. That's right. But a lot of them weren't noble. So there was there is this idea that so early on, a lot of them were. And then it spread out into more and more ideas. But it was stuck. It was kind of saddled with that idea that it was all just phone sex lines. Yeah, unfairly. But that was the reputation it had. But, yeah, you could you could do anything. And the whole thing started very simply in primitively, I believe with it wasn't the first one, NASA wasn't the first one.


But NASA had one of the first successful ones, which I just love. Yeah. Eighty two it was called Dial the Shuttle and one 999 NASA.


You could listen to conversations between ground control and the astronauts on the space shuttle, which is a huge vehicle. There was like a million people called in in 1982 alone. And every single one of those people were paying, from what I saw, a minimum of two dollars a minute. When you call the 900 number two dollars was the was the base that I think like your phone company was going to charge for the service and then whatever extra beyond two dollars it was, was what the entrepreneur, the 900 number information provider was charging.


So if you paid 295 a minute for every minute of content that you sat there and listened to on your phone, you were paying that person who was just some schmo who had somebody record some stuff for a 900 number. They were getting a dollar a minute for every single person that called in. And very quickly from when this started in 1987, when AT&T started a program that said you can provide your own content and get your own nine hundred number, it made a lot of people very rich, like very quickly.


Yeah, it was a way to make a lot of dough fast. I think there was this one meeting I was about to call it a famous meaning.


It wasn't famous at all. It was Appalachian. Yeah. That was this meeting that they referenced in this article, at least. Where did you get this price and price nomics and God bless them.


This is by Sean Raviv. Yeah, it's a good article. It's very cool. The rise and fall of the nine hundred number.


But this was a telecom strategist named Bruce Kushnick who helped Sprint start their own 900 service in the late eighties. And he said that he remembers a meeting where they had twenty five or so of the first developers that did this in a room and said, raise your hand if you're a millionaire. And like almost everyone raised their hand. And they were just they were they had to know that it was a short window, I think, which is probably why they they weren't just like, yeah, I'll just do this one.


No, they were like, it's a gold mine out there for probably five years. Yeah.


And if you were like a celebrity like Hulk Hogan or. Yeah. Really any WWF wrestler, global wrestler or New Kids on the Block or D.J. Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince, like some guy would come up to you and say, hey, I've got this business idea for you and we're going to charge three ninety five and we're going to split a dollar ninety five. All you have to do is read this, you know, a five minute script, you know, once a week or once every two weeks or something like that.


And then that's it. We're going to split this money. And it made a bunch of money. It was really popular for for a very brief time. And the reason why it was popular was because it was, as Sean Raviv puts it, it was like a Proteau Internet. Yeah. Except rather than everything being free and then advertising driven where you get the content free, but you have you're subjected to ads, which sounds vaguely familiar for some reason you paid for this free content.




And but it had such a range like you were talking about everything from like D.J. Jazzy Jeff doing something to vote for Miss America or some legitimate things like and I don't know how good or legit it was, but you can get tax help or insurance advice or whatever. Right. Or tech support to play Wheel of Fortune like Interactor, Wheel of Fortune or farm commodity prices. Yeah, it was just all over the map. People realized we can get information to people and charge a lot of money for it.


And especially if there are children involved, you can basically trick them into running up a huge bill that their parents are going to have to pay.


Yeah, man, that Santa one. Do you remember that? I remember, man. Totally. So there was this satellite truck. You got to tell him about the Santa line.


Well, the Santa like as I called it. Yeah, yeah. This was a Santa Claus hotline that asked kids to hold up their phone to the screen.


And when they did that, there was a tone, a program tone that automatically dialed the number that I guess your phone would hear. And then all of a sudden this kid was hooked up to a Santa Claus hotline where it was probably I mean, what do you think was probably just some Santa Claus saying that he was working very hard on everyone's gifts? Yeah. To be a good boy. Yeah.


Four minutes and minutes and minutes for two ninety five or more a minute. So the kid didn't even dial the number like the the ad dialed it for them with the tones. Yeah.


And that was one of the one of the big fraudulent things about a lot of these. And some of them are legit. They might have been dumb but they weren't like literally ripping you off by causing these long delays. But a lot of them would do these long delays. And I don't know about the Santa one, but I could totally see.


Like, what's your name, son? Well, let me see what I've got for you and then for the next 10 minutes, like, well, it's not this one. Let me look in this other room over here. Could you spell your name again like a kid would sit there for 30 minutes waiting to see what Santa had for him? Yeah, there was. There was it was pretty perennial the headlines or articles about some family that got hit with like a ten thousand dollar phone bill or something like that.


There was one girl who famously called the two Coreys hotline. Two hundred and sixteen times. Yeah, that commercials on YouTube. Yeah. There's actually there's a BuzzFeed article called Thirty of the weirdest 900 numbers from the 90s. And they mention one that I hadn't heard of before, that I'm not convinced. Isn't Internet meme like a fake Internet meme, but is the crying number where this ad mentions it's like why are all these people crying to find out, call this number and these people are having, like, this kind of cathartic sobbing cry on the phone and it looks real, but it's so tantalizingly wrong that it isn't quite nineties.


It's way more of the 21st century. And like the idea of it, the interesting than that. So I'm not sure it's real. I couldn't find anything about it either other than there's this ad that exists. There was nobody on the Internet who's like, I call this. And yes, this is totally real.


Yeah. The Price nomics article mentions another one, whether it was and I think these were pretty common to and this is just the worst when you're like preying on someone that needs work. Yeah. When you would call a 900 number for driver jobs at twenty dollars a call. But what they didn't tell you was, is there was only like two or three positions. So they get all these people calling in at 20 bucks a pop for the same three positions.




Just so I mean, there was also a hotline that you could call a 900 number that charge you. Twenty five dollars to learn how to set up your own 900 hotline.


Yeah, that would make sense that one might have paid off. And then the phone sex, it was that was a big, big thing. And I never called any of those. But those in the in the Robert Altman movie Shortcuts, you know, Jennifer Jason Leigh was a phone sex operator. And the other thing is some very funny scenes of her, like with a baby in one arm and a cigarette and like doing her ironing and OK, house cleaning while she was like, you know, talking dirty.


I was trying to remember what what movie it was. It was short cuts. I was thinking it was punch drunk love. Yeah. There's a sex line subplot in that one too. Who is it.


Who's the love interest in that. Uh, in Punch Drunk Love. The love interest is it was Emily Watson OK.


And she was she. Yeah she was, she was the one who was doing the phone sex line and then Philip Seymour Hoffman was like the owner of it.


Now I don't think she worked for him. Philip Seymour Hoffman was. Oh, he was blackmailing.


Yeah. Adam Sandler. That's right. I finally saw uncut gems, man. Jesus.


Oh yeah. Do you like it or hate it. I hated it. Did you really. I hated it more than I've hated any movie in a while. It's possible those brothers listen to this and I know, but clearly they worked very hard on it and like they must be very proud of it. But I hate that movie. Oh, man. It was my favorite movie, The Year. You're crazy. I'm not crazy. It's a lot of people's favorite movie.




I'm no, I'm just saying, Chuck, I'm surprised that you think it was the. I loved it. OK, wow. Well, we disagree on that one.


No, I mean, it's a divisive movie. I haven't met many people. We've been a lot. We've done a lot of stuff on that one movie Crushin I haven't talked to many people are like, I don't know, I could take it or leave it. It was all right. Most people like I loved it and I loved it. Those guys bring that kind of intensity and stress to a film and some people are like, uh oh.


It was it was almost exclusively the ending for me. The very, very end, yeah. Oh, I love the ending. No, you don't get to do that. That's against all the rules, man. Oh, gosh, that was so great now.


And I like a good time. I thought that was a cool movie. Yeah. Yeah. This but now this a good time. Follow the rules. This one didn't follow the rules and I hate that movie for it. I loved it. Well since we started talking about movies, I guess that's it for toll free and 900 numbers. Yeah. I don't have anything else. It's it's pretty.


Think about they're both sort of relics, but 800 numbers survived and 900 numbers.


Are there any any more. I don't know. We're going to find out if there are we might set one up. Let's look into it. Right. OK, nine, seven, six evil.


But ask to go to charity or something. Sure, sure. Half of it. So I guess then what?


Chucky's time for listener mail it is.


This is a wasp related the band now if only, uh, hey, Josh, Chuck and Jerry or whoever is producing, that's what it's come to. You see, I've been a listener for seven or eight years, ever since I got an internship that put me in a car.


Four hours a day, five days a week. Your recent story about WASPs reminds me of my own childhood experience with a WASP. I was around six or seven now swinging at my neighbor's house when all of a sudden my butt started to hurt like really bad.


So I did what was natural, ran home screaming for my mom, not sure where she was, but my dad was upstairs and asked what was wrong. And I just said, my butt really hurts. And he sort of laughed, but he could tell I was in serious pain. So he told me to drop my shorts and he gasped. He said it was really red and there was a wasp still in his underwear, still stinging me.


Oh, no, I guess he killed it. I don't really remember that part. Just being in the tub afterwards. And you mentioned a wasp can sting up to ten times. We counted thirteen stings on my left, but gee, my gosh. And that is from Michael Brown in Portland, Oregon.


Mayor Michael, glad you made it through that. One wonder how you feel about WASPs even after our episode on it. Do you imagine being a kid and running home with a wasp in your underwear?


No, I can't be. I can't imagine being a wasp and some little kids underwear while they're running home either.


Yeah, because, you know, that's not going to come to a good end. You might as well do all those things and you can. I feel bad coming. Yeah. Well, thanks a lot, Michael. If you want to get in touch with us like Michael did, to let us know some horrible traumatic thing that happened to you when you were a kid. We love that stuff. You can send an email to Stuff podcast and I heart radio dotcom.


Stuff you should know is a production of radios HowStuffWorks for more podcasts, My Heart radio, because the radio app, Apple podcasts or wherever you listen to your favorite shows. Everybody has a podcast now, right, every celebrity, every you do in college, there are literally hundreds of thousands of podcasts out there and yeah, it's a bit of a mess.


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