Oops! PikePass letter accidentally sends callers to adult line

| 1/14/2005

Some Oklahomans who called what they thought was a PikePass customer service number were offered an entirely different kind of service recently.

It all started with a letter – a request for updated vehicle information – that was sent to 41,000 customers of the PikePass system, an electronic toll collection system used in the Sooner State. The letterhead contained the correct phone number for customer service. But further down in the letter, the phone number was off by one digit.

Dialing that second number connected callers to an advertisement for an adult sex phone line.

Callers didn’t hear anything untoward when they called the incorrect number. Instead, a message there directed them to another phone number where they could talk to “exciting people” for $2.99 a minute.

“That particular number is an advertisement for an adult line,” Brigette Berglan, a spokeswoman for the Oklahoma Transportation Authority, said. “So it’s not actually explicit.”

After the letter was sent out about a week and a half ago, the Oklahoma Transportation Authority received a number of calls. But not as many as you might expect.

Through Jan. 10, Berglan said, the agency had received only 50 calls out of the 41,000 letters. And most of those called simply to make sure the state was aware of the mistake.

“There were only five that actually called the second phone number,” she said, even though it’s obvious after calling the misprinted number that it’s not a state phone number.

The Transportation Authority isn’t waiting for calls to come in, however; they’ve taken action to inform consumers to avoid any more surprises.

“We’re extremely embarrassed by the mistake,” Berglan said. “It certainly was unintentional, and we are sending out postcards to all the customers who received the notice to let them know there was an error in the phone number, and to provide them with the correct number to contact us.”

Berglan said the error was “unfortunately missed in the review process.”

“We’ve never had an occurrence like this before,” she said.

Oh, and just to be sure, Berglan says the correct customer service number is 1-800-745-3727.

– By Mark H. Reddig, associate editor