NEWARK, N.J. - Most consumers and virtually 100 percent of businesses in northern and central New Jersey know about the new 973 and 732 area codes, according to a Bell Atlantic-New Jersey poll taken in late October and early November.
But the survey also shows that one out of three residential customers and one out of six businesses affected by the new codes have not taken steps to get ready for the dialing changes.
"It's clear that we've succeeded in informing our customers about the new 973 and 732 area codes," said Len J. Lauer, president and CEO of Bell Atlantic-New Jersey. "Now it's up to all of our customers to use the information we've provided."
Telephone customers have had a chance to get ready for the new area codes during a six-month transition dialing period that ends Dec. 6. As of that date, callers who continue to dial 201 and 908 to reach customers located in the 973 and 732 area codes will begin to hear a recorded message instructing them to dial the correct area code.
What customers should do:
- Notify people who call you regularly. Tell friends, relatives, customers, employees, local affiliates, business associates, suppliers and others.
- Reprogram telecommunications services and equipment to include the new area codes. This is particularly important for businesses with PBXs (Private Branch Exchanges) that must be reprogrammed to complete calls to the new area codes. Businesses with clients or customers outside New Jersey also should instruct them to reprogram their PBXs to make calls to 973 and 732.
- Make certain the new area codes appear in ads, promotional brochures and other printed materials. This includes stationery, business cards, invoices, purchase orders, catalogs, product packaging, internal records, company directories, labels, billboards, recorded messages, trucks, mugs, key chains, radio and TV spots or anything else that displays your area code and telephone number.
- Special note to medical doctors, veterinarians and dentists: Be sure to reprogram your call forwarding on Friday, Dec. 5, to accept the new area codes. Otherwise, weekend emergency calls might not reach the appropriate answering services.
How Customers Can Find Out If They're Affected by the Area Code Changes:
- Pay attention to information provided with Bell Atlantic phone bills. During November and early December, customers who live or conduct business in the 973 and 732 area codes will be receiving pamphlets listing telephone exchanges included in the two new area codes. Customers who find their exchanges listed on the 973 or 732 lists will know that they are getting a new area code.
- Look for ads in local newspapers; listen to ads on the radio. In November and early December, Bell Atlantic will run informational ads in local newspapers and spots on regional radio stations.
- Refer to Bell Atlantic's two area code web sites. Bell Atlantic has created two area code web sites to which customers can refer. One site, http://www.bell-atl.com/areacode, features a wealth of information about area code changes in New Jersey and across the Bell Atlantic region. Another site, http://www.bell-atl.com/ba-nj, allows customers to type in New Jersey telephone numbers to see if those numbers are included in the 973 or 732 area codes. Both web sites are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
- Call Bell Atlantic's toll-free area code hotline. The hotline, at 1-800-409-8773, takes calls Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m.
About the Bell Atlantic-New Jersey Area Code Poll:
Between Oct. 21 and Nov. 2, 200 Bell Atlantic residential customers in the new 732 area code and 200 customers in the new 973 area code were interviewed by telephone. Interviews were conducted with the household member who usually pays the bills.
A similar poll designed for Bell Atlantic business customers was conducted between Oct. 13 and Nov. 4.
The margin of error in both polls was roughly 5 percent.
- Ninety-seven percent of residential customers and 100 percent of business customers said they were aware of imminent area code changes in the 973 and 732 area codes.
- Seven percent of residential customers in 973 and 732 said that the area code changes would have a great deal of effect on them, while 22 percent responded that the creation of new area codes would have some effect on them. Nineteen percent said the changes would not have very much effect, and 46 percent said they would have no effect at all.
- Fifteen percent of business customers in 973 and 732 said that the area code changes will have a great deal of effect on them. Twenty-nine percent of business customers said the changes would have some effect; 9 percent said not very much effect and 44 percent said no effect at all.
- Fifty-one percent of residential customers in 973 and 732 said they understand that new area codes will not increase the rates they are charged for local and regional toll calls. Twenty-two percent said that they believe their rates will go up and 27 percent said they didn't know one way or the other. (For the record, rates will not increase as a result of an area code change.)
- Fifty-two percent of business customers in 973 and 732 said they understand that new area codes will not increase the rates they are charged for local and regional toll calls. Nineteen percent said they believe their rates will go up, and 29 percent said they didn't know one way or the other.
- Eighty-three percent of residential customers in the new 973 and 732 area codes said they knew that their new area code was either 973 or 732.
- Ninety-five percent of business customers in the new 973 and 732 area codes said they knew that their new area code was either 973 or 732.
- Thirty-one percent of residential customers in 973 and 732 have made no changes whatsoever to take the new area codes into account. Fifty-eight percent have made one or two changes. Eleven percent have made three or more changes.
- Thirteen percent of businesses customers in 973 and 732 have made no changes whatsoever to take the new area codes into account. Twenty percent have made one or two changes. Sixty-seven percent have made three or more changes.
- Fifty-eight percent of residential customers in 973 and 732 have notified family and friends about area code changes. Thirteen percent have reprinted stationery, checks and labels. Twenty-one percent have started dialing the new area codes.
- Sixteen percent of the businesses in 973 and 732 that own speed dialers have reprogrammed them. Twenty-two percent of the businesses that own fax machines have reprogrammed them. Twenty-two percent of the businesses that own PC modems have reprogrammed them.
- Sixty percent of businesses in the new area codes have notified customers and vendors of the area code changes. Fifty-three percent have advised employees of the changes. Sixty-eight percent have reprinted stationery. Sixty-six percent have revised advertising, and 31 percent actually have started dialing the new area code numbers.
The new Bell Atlantic - formed through the merger of Bell Atlantic and NYNEX - is at the forefront of the new communications, information and entertainment industry. With 40 million telephone access lines and 5.8 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 21 countries.