In this new era of cell and VOIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol)
phones, an issue has arisen that may be a problem for some and not a
problem for others. The issue is getting your telephone number listed
in the directory if you want it to be published there.
With traditional telephone service, you get your number listed in the
directory as a part of your service. If you don't want your number
listed, then you have to pay an additional three dollars per month for
With cell and VOIP phones, the complement is true. You get an unlisted
number gratis. Since most cell phone and VOIP companies do not provide
directory listings, you have to go to your local telephone company to
arrange a listing. The cost is between two and four dollars per month,
once you get the listing. So your local telephone company wins out
Since the local telephone directory is published by your local
telephone company, there is not much you can do to change this.
However, most local telephone companies are clueless when it comes to
foreign listings. I've had foreign listings with Bellsouth and with
Verizon. When you call the business office to arrange a foreign
listing, customer service representatives incorrectly tell you that
you cannot list your telephone number in the directory if the number
is not provided by their company. Or they tell you they will transfer
you to 'someone who can help you' and then you get the recording
telling you that 'all agents are busy'. When they finally answer, they
tell you *they* are going to transfer you to 'someone who can help
you'. Once again, you get 'all agents are busy'. And you play this
game all day unless you hang up or demand to speak to a supervisor.
I've even spoken to supervisors at the local telephone company who do
not even know what a foreign listing is much less how to make one for
you. In every instance I've gotten a foreign listing when I moved or
initiated VOIP service, I had to call the Public Service Commission in
the state where I then lived. That has included South Carolina, North
Carolina, and Georgia. Only then do I get a phone call from someone at
their company that knows what they are doing. Then, I get my listing.
Once you get your account and your account number, if you call back
with a billing issue or a minor change to your listing, they keep
transferring you from department to department. On this I also called
the Georgia Public Service commission. I was contacted by the
telephone company's executive complaints department and was told that
the Small Business department is responsible for handling all foreign
listings. Even then, Small Business still tried to transfer me the
Yellow Pages (who only sell phone book and business ads) until I told
them about my conversation with their executive complaints department
(who had defined that the Small Business office is responsible for all
residential foreign listings). Only then do I get someone who will try
to address the problem.
In the case of Georgia, AT&T/Bellsouth lists my number as being in
Marietta, Georgia. I have my number listed in the Marietta Community
phone book and the Atlanta directory (two separate foreign listings
since they are in different telephone books). AT&T/Bellsouth 411 does
now have me correctly listed as being in Marietta, Georgia.
Masterfiles is an online directory assistance service. Because they do
not have to pay for operators, they can charge as little as twenty
cents per listing. They get their databases from all of the local
providers and the updates are typically one to two days after a
listing is made, altered, or deleted.
Easy411 is a third party directory assistance company. They also get
their listings from each of the local telephone companies and their
database is kept up to date at the same rate as Masterfiles. You can
reach the service by dialing a toll-free number. Their charge is less
than getting a number from 411.
I discovered that Masterfiles and Easy411 (and presumably all the
other national directory assistance services) were showing me as
Atlanta, Georgia and not in Marietta. When I spoke to Masterfiles,
they said that my listing was as a result of what was sent to them by
AT&T/Bellsouth and the only way it would get changed would be for
AT&T/Bellsouth to fix my listing and submit the update. I'm sure (from
previous conversations with Easy411) that the same applies to Easy411.
In talking to AT&T/Bellsouth further, I was told that because the
Marietta book is a 'community' directory, that foreign listings in the
Marietta phone book were not forwarded to other directory assistance
services. They told me further that all numbers in the Atlanta book
were submitted to other directory assistance services as 'Atlanta'
even if the listing in the Atlanta book and/or AT&T/Bellsouth
directory assistance said elsewhere (Marietta, in my case). I told
them that this was not acceptable and that I needed them to correct
They have not corrected it. I was told today that they had reached a
'dead end'. I told her that if she'd reached a dead end on her
present path that she was going to have to find another route. She
said she'd try and see what else could be done (like they've told me
so many times before without further results).
I know I get agitated with these people when I talk to them. They are
helpless when it comes to the subject of foreign listings and it makes
their customers feel so victimized. I've been blindly transferred,
placed on eternal music on hold, and gotten unacceptable support from
them so many times that frankly my nerves are very jangled.
Everyone should have the right to have their number properly listed if
they so choose to do so. The poor customer should not be at the mercy
of the telephone company to get their foreign listing made. The
directory listings can only be done by the local company. It is a
monopoly and the telephone company should not be able to pick and
choose who can or cannot be listed. And they should be required to
list it correctly, not in Atlanta because it is in the Atlanta book
but listed as somewhere else.
Some time ago, I corresponded with QWEST in email and asked them if
they could make a foreign listing for me. I was told to call their
toll-free number and place the order. The problem was, all of these
people were clueless as well. I did this just to satisfy my curiosity
as to whether or not they had the same problem (I don't have a VOIP
number in their coverage area). I talked to several people at QWEST
and these people were clueless about it as well.
I will write a letter to the Georgia Public Service Commission
requesting assistance in getting this matter cleared up if they do not
have a resolution for me in the next few days.
If you feel so inclined (and you are not using AT&T/Bellsouth,
Masterfiles, or Easy411 directory assistance as I've already confirmed
these), try calling your nationwide 411 service and ask for Fred W.
Atkinson, III in Marietta, Georgia. If they say no listing, try
Atlanta, Georgia. I'll bet they give you my phone number then. If you
do this, please send me a direct email at firstname.lastname@example.org and
tell me the result.
[TELECOM Digest Editor's Note: From 620-331 Sage Telecom (SBT
reseller): dialing 1-411 for information in Marietta, GA no listing.
In Atlanta, no listing. From 620-602 Vonage Telecom dialing 411 for
information: no listing in Marietta, GA but you were listed in
Atlanta. Using 1-404-555-1212 from either the Sage (SBC reseller) or
Vonage lines, I was told 'Fred W. Jr.' existed in some town around
there with an area 229 number out of Atlanta. It would appear AT&T
intercepts 555-1212 these days to some provider or another, while Sage
Telecom intercepts 1-411 to go to whoever is the prime source for
Verizon. Vonage sends their 555-1212 to the same people. I did not
test using my Cingular Wireless phone to either 411 or 404-555-1212.
That's four calls at about $1.50 each, or $6.00. Do you want me to
test on that line also? Please remit the six dollars thus far
expended to me via the Pay Pal donation box on the front page of the
web site http://telecom-digest.org PAT]