Area Code Shenanigans

I find it interesting in our world that so many people still don’t include the area code on their signage. I’m driving through a strange town and see a number – 555-1212. How am I supposed to know the area code in order to dial them, either then or later?

In Charlotte, we have two area codes – 704 and 980. I think 980 is used pretty much exclusively by Charlotte-Mecklenburg and Microsoft (it’s also on a growing number of cell phones, including my wife’s) beause they needed large contiguous blocks of numbers. So it’s perhaps understandable that people still use seven-digit numbers on their signs – though apparently they don’t care about the “drive by” traffic.

The other thing I don’t get is why almost invariably people use a “1” prior to describing a toll-free number. If they give me their number, it’s 555-1212 or perhaps even 704-555-1212. But if it’s a toll-free number, it’s 1-800-555-1212 or 1-877-555-1212.

It’s just strange, don’t you think? I even saw a van the other day driving down the street. It had three numbers on it – one for South Carolina callers, one for North Carolina callers and one for everyone else. The numbers? 704-555-1212, 803-555-1212 and 1-800-555-1212. Where is the consistency? Do people think that magic in the toll-free number is in the “1-800” and not in the area code all by itself?