Bell Atlantic Launches 'National 411' Service
in Philadelphia, Southeast Pennsylvania
No-Nonsense Directory Assistance Service Offers Separate Prices
for Local and National Listings
March 30, 1999
PHILADELPHIA -- With one bold step, Bell Atlantic is coming to the
rescue of telephone customers in southeast Pennsylvania who are confused
over where to call for accurate directory assistance information or
unwilling to pay inflated prices for local listings.
"We're declaring an end to the distressing customer concern over where to
get accurate listings for any phone number in the country at a fair price,"
said Kitty Linder, vice president of operator services for Bell Atlantic.
"Starting today, callers throughout the Philadelphia area and in Delaware
can simply dial 4-1-1 for directory assistance anywhere in the United
"For Pennsylvanians, Bell Atlantic's systems will automatically bill for
local listings at our regular low price of 50 cents, after a residential
customer has made two free local directory assistance calls in a month.
All requests for national listings will be billed at a competitive 95 cents,"
The service was introduced in the rest of Pennsylvania last week.
Competing directory assistance services charge up to $1.40 for all
lookups, local and national. "Consumers often don't know they are likely
to pay more when they ask for a local listing from these services," she
A Bell Atlantic advertising campaign targeted to customers in
Pennsylvania and Delaware will promote the new National 411 Directory
Assistance service. New York was the first state in the company's serving
area to offer the new service, now available in seven states. National 411
will be available in all 13 states served by Bell Atlantic and the District of
Columbia by summer.
With National 411, customers simply dial the familiar "4-1-1" code for
directory assistance, say the city, state and name or business whose
number they want and the operator will provide it.
"Our mission is simple -- to give excellent service at fair prices and to
keep directory assistance as hassle-free as it has always been," Linder said.
Linder noted the new service makes life easier for callers as well.
"Customers no longer need to know the area code for the listing they want
-- just the city and state. With the proliferation of new area codes, this will
make finding a number easier for our customers."
The simple 4-1-1 phone number also eliminates the need to remember a
long 10-10 dial-around number like the ones AT&T and MCI use for their
Bell Atlantic's new ad campaign will feature radio spots that present
anecdotes about customers who need distant phone numbers. Bell
Atlantic spokesperson James Earl Jones appears, phantom-like, and
presents the solution: National 411 from Bell Atlantic.
Confusion over where to get quality listings at a fair price started when
long distance companies actively began to promote national directory
Long distance companies first provided phone listings by purchasing the
service from local telephone companies. In recent years, however, long
distance companies declared war with the local companies and began
developing their own services. Customers began to complain about
erroneous listings caused, in part, by the comparatively weak skills of
operators at centralized, far-away facilities.
"Now, Bell Atlantic operators who are trained experts in searching for and
delivering accurate listings will be able look up numbers nationwide for
our customers," Linder said.
Bell Atlantic is installing new software in the directory assistance systems
throughout its territory and training operators to process requests for
national numbers. National 411 service will become available across the
Bell Atlantic territory as systems and software are installed and operators
Operators in states that already offer National 411 report that customer
reaction has been positive and enthusiastic.
Bell Atlantic is at the forefront of the new communications and
information industry. With more than 42 million telephone access lines
and 8.6 million wireless customers worldwide, Bell Atlantic companies
are premier providers of advanced wireline voice and data services,
market leaders in wireless services and the world's largest publishers of
directory information. Bell Atlantic companies are also among the world's
largest investors in high-growth global communications markets, with
operations and investments in 23 countries.