801-823-2033 showing on Google Voice history

A strange phone mystery played out in the span of a few minutes yesterday afternoon as we were preparing for dinner with friends.

The phone rang.

In fact, both our landline and our cellphone rang simultaneously. This is because we have added both phone numbers to the Google Voice service that just launched in the last week or two. When someone calls our Google Voice number, both phones ring, and whichever is answered first gets the call.

So someone was calling our brand new Google Voice number, but who? The number appears on Amy‘s business card, which we just designed Thursday and then had printed by FedEx Office (formerly FedEx Kinko’s). She has passed out a few of them, but not very many.

When Amy answered, there was silence.

Several repeated hellos produced no response, so Amy hung up and looked at the caller’s number on our phone: (801) 823-2033. Completely unfamiliar. Next, I checked our Google Voice history log. There was no ID, but the call apparently came from Ogden, Utah. I don’t think we know anyone in the entire state.

I ran a Google search on the number to do a reverse phone lookup, and among the results was a page at WhoCalled.Us, a very handy service which allows users to compare notes on mysterious phone numbers in hopes of identifying them.

According to WhoCalled.Us, the caller was “Western Watts” (the correct spelling is actually Western Wats), which turns out to be an Orem, Utah-based market research / data collection company performing live interviewing, online surveys, automated telephony, and other misdemeanors.

Furthermore, a great many of the comments at WhoCalled.Us associated the mysterious call with recent work done by Kinko’s or FedEx Kinko’s (which is now FedEx Office).

A few of the commenters reported multiple annoying calls:

  • norm: had some work done at fedexkinkos a few days ago and have been receiving calls ever since
  • Pissed off: This number keeps calling all hours of the day and night, no one is ever there.

Commenters also note an email address and phone numbers for attempting to opt out of Western Wats calls.

I won’t be needing those.

Another handy feature of Google Voice is the ability to block any caller. From now on, anyone calling us from (801) 823-2033 will hear the familiar error tones and recorded message announcing that our number has been disconnected or is no longer in service, and that the caller may want to check the number and try the call again.

So far, I love Google Voice!