Authentication is overrated anyhow.

I recently realized that I am paying more for phone service in Ottawa
than I was in Montreal, despite making hardly any long-distance calls
here at all. A close inspection of my phone bill reminded me that I
signed up for a voicemail/caller-id/dozen-other-services bundle that
I thought would be Real Handy, but that I never use.

Since I tend to use my cellphone for personal calls and only use my
home phone as a DSL conduit and to give out to businesses, I figured
I didn’t need all those services. What’s more, I get sufficiently
few messages on my home line that I always forget to check
for messages — so I figured the best approach would be to get rid
of all of those services and buy a normal answering machine with
a blinky light I could not ignore.

So I go into the Bell World store in the Bayshore mall here, armed
with photo ID and my phone bill. I ask the service rep there to
tell me what services I have on my phone. She asks for the phone
number, and tells me that I have such-and-such bundle. Ok, I want
to get rid of the bundle, I say. She triple-checks that that’s what
I want, because not many people have plain old phone lines anymore.
She asks me for the name on the account. I tell her. Ok, done,
she says.

I leave, having not removed my ID or my phone bill from my bag.


  • To find out in advance if someone has caller-ID before you
    call them, just stop by your local Bell office and give them
    their phone number. They will tell you.

  • To ensure that the person you want to call cannot identify you
    when you do, just stop by your local Bell office and give
    them their phone number and name. They will disable the service.

  • If you know someone has an important voicemail message that you
    do not want them to hear, just stop by your local Bell office
    and give them their phone number and name. They will disable
    the service, and the contents of the voice mailbox will be
    deleted within an hour or two.

I think it’s Angry Letter time.

3 responses to “Authentication is overrated anyhow.”

  1. hmmm.

    i just canceled the dsl on one of our phone lines with verizon the other day. i had to give them the last four digits of my social security number, my date of birth and the full name on the account. oh, both full names on the account. then when i switched our long distance/local toll service from at&t to verizon i had to give all that same info to a different department and then be recorded as a third party verification company asked me the same questions and verified the service description of what i just ordered.

    you need to write a letter! :)

  2. I do the same thing with the house phone–no “extra” services, and a disused answering maching that tends to pick up sales calls and bill collectors looking for an old roommate/girlfriend. Because of that I only listen to the messages on the weekend, even if I have a blinky-blinky. That is why it took me a week to return the call from the landlord saying my check got lost in the mail… :(