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Bell disconnects phone lines at Sault's bushplane museum

Museum figures their toll-free number was hacked
20170315 Mike Delfre Canadian Bushplane Heritage Centre KA
Mike Delfre, executive director of the Canadian Bushplane Heritage Centre, seen in his office on his cell phone March 15, 2017. Delfre is hoping Bell Canada will reconnect the centre's phone service which was disconnected due to unpaid bills for calls the centre claims they did not receive. Kenneth Armstrong/SooToday

The Canadian Bushplane Heritage Centre is without phone service today after Bell Canada disconnected them from the system, says executive director Mike Delfre.

At issue is a $780 phone bill for calls Delfre said were not received by the non-profit corporation on their toll-free line.

“We rarely ever get any calls on it. Typically we would get two or three a month, and then starting last October the number went up from two to three a month to 100 a month,” said Delfre.

When the phone would ring, Delfre said, they would pick up the phone and the line would be dead.

“Obviously, to us, our toll-free number got hacked. Someone else is using that number and we are getting billed,” said Delfre.

When the centre received the bill in November, they contacted Bell Canada to dispute the calls, which originated mostly from California and Florida.

“Obviously if you get 25 calls a month from California somebody would remember,” said Delfre.

He has been back and forth with Bell’s billing department for months, until the situation came to a head last month when he was told the toll-free line and the centre’s local number would be disconnected if the bill was not paid.

The toll-free line was disconnected last week and this morning the local number went dead.

That local number is not only used for contacting the centre, but also for the centre’s debit and credit machine and for booking events like weddings.

As of this afternoon, Delfre was unable to rectify the situation with Bell’s billing, but the centre’s debit and credit card machines are now back in service.

A call for comment from the media relations department of Bell Canada was not responded to at press time.

“The evidence is very clear, if you go from two or three calls a month to 100 — something has happened. Hopefully they will realize that and reinstate our number and we can get back to business,” said Delfre.


Kenneth Armstrong

About the Author: Kenneth Armstrong

Kenneth Armstrong is a news reporter and photojournalist who regularly covers municipal government, business and politics and photographs events, sports and features.
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