I am the chairman of the board of the Imago Dei Pregnancy Center.
Up until this past July, we had always been located on the east side of Detroit. But due to high rental costs and an unsafe environment, we were forced to leave Detroit and find new office space in a nearby city. Because our new location was in a different phone area code, we had to get a new number from AT&T. This is where the story becomes interesting.
AT&T assured us that, for three months, it would forward all calls from our previous number to our new number. And thatʼs exactly what happened.
But after the three-month period had ended, our staff noticed a significant decline in calls for pregnancy tests or abortions. (We are listed in the Yellow Pages under “Abortion Alternatives,” and many women either donʼt see the word alternatives or do not know what it means.) Out of curiosity, we called our old number. We were shocked to hear a recorded voice inform the caller that since the old number was no longer in service, AT&T could connect the caller to three “similar” businesses in the area. All three businesses were abortion clinics. A pro-life pregnancy center not more than four miles from our old location was ignored.
I called AT&T the next day and spoke to a young man who instantly recognized the problem. In fact, he said to me, “Oh, those businesses are just the opposite of what you guys do.” I told him that the recorded message was misleading and unfair to the women who were seeking our services. He agreed and said he would solve the problem. After putting me on hold for a few minutes, he returned and assured me that the problem would be resolved in three business days. Well, I waited for seven business days to elapse and then dialed the old number. Nothing had changed. AT&T was still “pimping” for the death centers.
Frustrated and somewhat irritated, I immediately called AT&T, and this time talked to a woman. Of course, I had to explain the whole problem again and re-emphasize what a disservice this was to the women who were/are trying to contact us. The woman said she could find no record of my previous call but that she would see what she could do. I was put on hold several times, and after forty-two minutes, she said, “Mr. Addis, there is nothing we can do.”
“Nothing you can do?” I replied. “You are AT&T, are you not? Itʼs your phone system.”
“Yes, thatʼs true,” she said, “but it canʼt be handled in my department.” (Keep in mind that I was on the phone for forty-two minutes.)
“Okay,” I said, “could you connect me with the proper department?”
She hesitated for a short moment and then said, “Mr. Addis, I have an idea. Are you going to be near your phone for the next few minutes?”
I said I would be. She said, “Good. Iʼll call you back shortly.” I never heard from her again. So what are we dealing with here? Is it gross incompetency? It could be, for I have spent hours on the phone with AT&T representatives in the past and have often been stunned by their inability to resolve what appears to be simple problems.
Or is it something else? Is there someone in the belly of the beast who decided that forwarding calls from a pregnancy center to three abortion clinics was a clever way of promoting oneʼs own agenda? And if so, I shudder to think how many women ended up in an abortion mill and had their babies killed.
Since my last call to AT&T, I have contacted a local conservative radio station to see if they would be interested in looking into this situation. My hope is that they might use their clout to see if AT&T can be moved to change what they are doing. Say a prayer, and Iʼll keep your posted.
(Footnote: This next week Imago Dei will change its phone service to another provider.)