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Glitch Sends Bills to Wrong House

January 7, 1998

KEWANEE, Ill. (AP) _ Think how much you hate getting bills in the mail. Now multiply that by 100 or so and you can imagine how Richard Baird felt every day.

Baird spent November and December trying to dig out from an avalanche of telephone bills _ sometimes hundreds a day _ sent his way by a computer glitch.

The first few flurries of mystery bills started in November. They were for telephone numbers in the 614 area code, 814, 219, 618 _ anywhere but Baird’s own phone number.

The bills kept coming, listing call after call he had not made from number after number that was not his. He also received numerous AT&T marketing pleas.

The veterinarian and his staff spent hours combing through AT&T mailings for their real mail.

Not that there weren’t a few benefits. AT&T sent out free Christmas CDs in letters promoting personal toll-free lines; Baird got at least 200, and gave them away as gifts.

AT&T blamed a glitch in computer information supplied by Baird’s local carrier. The blizzard of bills turned into a trickle in recent days as the company said it believed it fixed the problem.

Baird said he was a little bitter at first about all the bills, but can now laugh about it.

``My rural mail carrier, he’s ecstatic. He gets rated on the amount of pieces he delivers,″ Baird said. ``The guys at the post office said the whole blitz came during the week he was being rated.″

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