Yes, that's what I think I did to my modem when I plugged it into the lovely phone line at the St George Motor Inn in north Melbourne last week.
But all is better now; an quasi-cheapo PCMCIA modem now does the work. Still, I still think the old modem could be OK, and perhaps it's the phone system here in the past three hotels. They all emit an odd warbling tone for the dial tone--and then just go silent while you dial. Even now, I can't dial my very national ISP, Telstra BigPond, on this particular phone line. So AOL comes to the rescue yet again.
Most probably the problem was Pulse dial tone on old phone systems in motels, its very common and can play havoc with your modem!