Weird, fun, wonderful, or useful automated phone numbers to call?
November 21, 2016 7:16 PM   Subscribe

There are plenty of weather numbers. There is even Dial a Buoy. Toronto Public Library has Dial-a-Story. What else is out there? This is not for pranking people.

I am specifically looking for some/all of the following characteristics:
  • automated; no humans
  • deep or complex phone trees are a plus
  • numbers that deliver information
  • natural recorded voices are a plus, or at least very good speech synthesis
  • in English
  • anywhere in the world is OK
  • nothing where repeated calls might block access critically needed by others such as health assistance, support, etc.
  • nothing where many extra calls could be causing a problem for a business
  • bonus points for numbers that are updated with new information from time to time or even daily
Why, you ask?

Kind of a random idea. But, these could be useful language learning practice for ESL / EFL students. Managing your way around a phone tree and getting comfortable with how they work is a useful skill. Also, very low stress stress because they will not have to interact with a person. Variable content that changes or updates but within a certain genre and content area can be good repeated listening or source of dictation practice. This came about from talking with a student planning a study abroad destination. I suggested they just go ahead and call the local weather number when they asked me what the weather was like there. They couldn't believe there was such a thing. And yes, we are also messing around with Siri and Okay Google. I hope MeFites will know some interesting or creative uses of voice menus out there. Thanks!
posted by Gotanda to Grab Bag (14 answers total) 89 users marked this as a favorite
Hogwarts Admissions Office — 605-475-6961 (assuming fake/humorous is okay)
posted by veery at 7:32 PM on November 21, 2016 [4 favorites]

Dial-a-song from They Might Be Giants - the group's music is relatively ESL-friendly, I think.
posted by amtho at 7:36 PM on November 21, 2016 [8 favorites]

Callin' Oates: Your Emergency Hall and Oates Hotline, 719-26-OATES
posted by djb at 7:36 PM on November 21, 2016 [5 favorites]

Working (static) phone numbers from the TV show Better Call Saul:

Need an Attorney? Better Call Saul! (505) 503-4455
Need a Will? Call McGill! (505) 842-5662
Retirement Funds Drained? Call Davis & Main! (505) 242-7700
Want a Gangster who’s macho? You got Nacho! (505) 242-6087
Tips are Frail? Go to Day Spa & Nail! (505) 842-5325

(H/t this compiled list at Reddit)
posted by Room 641-A at 7:42 PM on November 21, 2016 [3 favorites]

(270) 301-5797 - Here and There Along the Echo is a weird, sprawling phone tree with information about the fictional Echo River, part of the equally weird (and beautiful) magical realist computer game Kentucky Route Zero. You don't have to know anything about the game to appreciate the sheer oddity and scope of what there is to listen to on this phone number.
posted by zsazsa at 7:51 PM on November 21, 2016 [8 favorites]

(303) 499-7111 and (808) 335-4363 are NIST's numbers to get the current official US time. They're simulcasts of the WWV and WWVH shortwave time stations. Totally non-interactive, but they have a certain otherworldly quality due to the different tones that come in depending on the current time.
posted by zsazsa at 8:10 PM on November 21, 2016 [3 favorites]

Also came in to suggest Here & There Along the Echo River, which is a great opportunity to build listening skills for people speaking non-standard (heavily accented) English. Plus: surrealism.
posted by tapir-whorf at 8:25 PM on November 21, 2016 [2 favorites]

669- 221-6251 is the # for the bell hooks quote.
posted by brujita at 9:27 PM on November 21, 2016 [1 favorite]

Used to do this all the time - call for movie listings! You can still do it too! Just tried!


On the go with no Internet access? No problem! You can easily check showtimes and buy tickets by phone, just dial 1-877-789-MOVIE (1-877-789-6684).
Tell the voice-activated system what movie you want to see, at which theater, how many tickets you need and use your credit card to make the purchase.* Then simply pick up your tickets at the theater, the same way you do when buying tickets on the website.

You can also hear previews of new and upcoming releases, as well as the Top 10 box office movies - this can help you decide what movie to select.
Dial-up your movie tickets today using 1-877-789-MOVIE - add it to your speed dial now!
*only available in the United States at this time.
posted by rw at 9:45 PM on November 21, 2016 [2 favorites]

Lord Huron's Fool for Love video features a phone number that leads to a choose your own adventure story. (4:34 - 1-800-774-1372)
posted by gennessee at 10:56 PM on November 21, 2016 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Tons of awesome ideas here. Thanks! I never would have thought to search for a Hogwarts Admissions office number. And can't wait to have time to dive deeper into some of these others. Keep 'em coming!
posted by Gotanda at 2:08 AM on November 22, 2016


*cough* there are a bunch of international numbers also...
posted by zengargoyle at 4:17 AM on November 22, 2016 [3 favorites]

Harold Finch (Person of interest) has a voice message at 917-285-7362.
posted by DBAPaul at 9:39 AM on November 22, 2016

Santa (you can leave a voice mail even): 1-951-262-3062

The Naval Observatory will give you EST and Universal time (24-hr clock): 202-762-1069. Call 719-567-6742 for MST.

This Tumblr is all phone numbers from movies and TV but I don't have the app and couldn't view more than a couple of them.
posted by Room 641-A at 10:42 AM on November 22, 2016 [1 favorite]

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