Unbearable problems: Teddy bear company, mortgage firm in phone dispute | SierraSun.com

Unbearable problems: Teddy bear company, mortgage firm in phone dispute

Golden Bear Mortgage Corp. arranges financing for would-be home buyers and homeowners wishing to refinance existing loans. Nowhere in its mission statement does it say “sell teddy bears.”

But for more than 1,200 teddy bear enthusiasts, who were unaware that New York-based radio personality Howard Stern had given out an incorrect 800 number, Golden Bear was their one-stop Valentine’s shop.

This is when the Truckee company received national attention.

“We’ve had our 800 number for more than three years,” said Becky Stebbins of Golden Bear. “We got calls every now and then for the bears, but this Valentine’s season was the worst.”

Similar phone numbers

The Vermont Teddy Bear Co., a well-known Northeast teddy bear distributor, uses radio advertising as its main source of advertising. Whether numbers are transposed during delivery or during dialing, Golden Bear receives a steady stream of calls from interested bear buyers.

Golden Bear Vice President Chris Long said the calls took up more than 75 percent of the company’s 800 calls during the two weeks prior to the holiday.

“‘Is it too late to order a bear for Valentine’s,’ they’d ask,” Long said. “We were going nuts with these calls.”

Long said the Vermont company must have changed their advertising campaign, which reflected in the amazing increase in the number of wayward callers.

“If it was Howard Stern, all I can say is that guy’s got some following,” he said.

Stebbins said the Golden Bear’s new receptionist got more than she bargained for.

“I felt so bad,” she said. “Carol had just gotten here and she was bombarded with calls for bears. People even left messages on my voice mail to order bears.”

Teddy Bear marketing manager Irene Steiner told an Associated Press reporter her company originally feared the radio ads contained faulty information, but said that wasn’t the problem here. She said the problem was dialing error because of a one-digit difference in numbers.

Golden Bear’s number is 800-289-2327 or “BUY-BEAR.” Vermont Teddy Bear’s number is 800-829-2327 or “UBY-BEAR.”

“We’ve offered the teddy bear company an option to buy the number,” Long said. “They refused and said they would give us 20 teddy bears for the number instead.

“I told them they would have to give me an amount of bears that would cost as much as it would cost me to replace all of my letterhead and stationery. I think it’s only fair.”

Stebbins said it is obvious when the teddy bear company begins a new advertising campaign because the number of calls hits the roof.

“We are always nice on the phone,” she said. “We give them the correct number so the company still gets the business.

“I think it’s only fair we get teddy bears in return.”

Sierra Sun E-mail: sun@tahoe.com

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