Phantom phone call mystery from apartment without a land line
Published Friday, October 31, 2014 8:22AM EDT
A Vancouver woman went looking for answers after a 911 call was made from her apartment when she wasn't there – despite the fact that she doesn't even have a land line.
Earlier this month, Melissa Creelman, a medical student at the University of British Columbia, was forced to rush home after receiving a startling phone call from her condo building manager telling her that the fire department was trying to break down her door.
When firefighters eventually gained access, they found the condo empty.
Firefighters explained they had been responding to a 911 call made from the unit. That confused Creelman since no one could have been inside to make the call.
But she soon learned that somehow, her Internet and cable line had called 911 and then hung up. When 911 operators were unable to reach anyone, they dispatched police and fire services.
Learning that her cable line was able to make a phone call was weird enough, but even weirder was the fact that Creelman doesn't have any phones in her condo and even doesn't even have a land telephone line set up. She relies on her cellphone, which was with her at school when the incident happened.
Creelman says she turned to her cable and Internet provider Telus for answers, and even went to the city to try to get an explanation for the phantom phone call. No one was able to give her an explanation.
"They all wanted to skirt around the topic," she told CTV Vancouver.
"…They basically pointed fingers at each other. And at the end of the day, I felt I was getting brushed off."
After a week with no answers, Creelman decided to call the news media. Telus was finally able to offer an explanation -- and it's not a ghost in the machine.
It turns out that, as a policy, Telus includes a phone number with its cable and Internet packages even if no phone service is ordered. They then use that phone number as a form of customer identification, to allow them to locate the home.
According to Telus spokesperson Shawn Hall, there was a human error: a customer of another telecommunications company had misprogrammed a switchboard number with Creelman’s phone number.
While Creelman now has an explanation, she also still has a broken door. She's been told it will cost at least $1,000 to repair the metal door and door frame. For now, her building manager has had temporary deadbolts installed on the outside and inside of the door.
Telus has told Creelman that, although it wasn't to blame for the 911 call, they’re sorry for how her complaint was handled.
"We've apologized to the customer for what happened. We have a robust process for managing these issues when they come in," he said.
The company has also decided to pay for Creelman's door repairs.
Creelman says she is pleased with the apology -- and also glad that 911 took the call seriously.
"At the end of the day, I'm glad they responded because if I was in my apartment unconscious or if someone was holding a gun to my head or any unusual circumstance that would cause a 911 hang-up call, I understand," she says.
With a report from CTV Vancouver's Penny Daflos