Weird News

Rich People Complain Their Telephone Area Codes Don’t Look Expensive Enough

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There was a time when it seemed like Chicago’s gelato-gate, in which furious one-percenters protested a local coffee stand for selling insufficiently fancy artisanal gelato, was the pettiest a group of rich people could get. But some fancy British folks heard about that scandal and said, “You think that’s petty? Hold my beer.” Now they’re complaining to the local council, British Telecom, even their local Member of Parliament because their new luxury homes come with “downmarket” area codes.

According to The Telegraph, the people who own million-dollar homes in Bath, in Somerset, have long held phone numbers that begin with 01225. Recently, however, some new owners have bought homes in a luxury development in Bath and found that their phone numbers started with 0176, which–quelle horreur!–the Telegraph says is more commonly associated with “down-in-the-heels places such as Radstock.”

Now the local council is hearing about it. While some people say that the issue is that they’re worried about having trouble getting food delivered if the delivery place thinks they  don’t live in Bath, others are apparently being pretty straightforward about why they want what they perceive as a higher-status area code.

“They’ve spent money, they want people to know they live in Bath,” said local councilor June Player.

A 72-year-old man named Paddy Doyle said he’s had the fancier sort of area code for years, but when he and his wife moved to one of the new townhouses, their new house’s landline got the less fashionable area code. He’s not pleased.

“I do consider my phone number to be a part of my identity,” he said.

British Telecom reportedly says that the phone numbers are distributed based on the nearest physical telephone exchange, but sometimes there’s a physical barrier–like a railroad or a river–that means some properties are routed through a different telephone exchange, and thus they get the other exchange’s area code. Changing an area code once it’s been assigned is hugely problematic, but BT says it’s looking into the matter to see if they can fix it. With a little luck and a lot of work on the part of the employees of British Telecom, a bunch of rich people in Bath might get the more prestigious telephone numbers they think they deserve.

Or they could just use their cell phones and deal with it.