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Bell Atlantic Launches 'National 411' Service in New Jersey
No-Nonsense Directory Assistance Service
Offers Separate Prices for Local and National Listings
April 21, 1999
NEWARK, N.J. -- With one bold step, Bell Atlantic is coming to the
rescue of telephone customers in New Jersey who are confused over
where to call for accurate directory assistance information or are 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 in New Jersey can simply dial 4-1-
1 for directory assistance anywhere in the United States.
"Bell Atlantic's systems will automatically bill for local listings at
our regular low price of 20 cents, after a residential customer has made six
free local directory assistance calls in a month. All requests for national
listings will be billed at a competitive 95 cents," Linder said.
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 than they have to when they ask for a local listing from
these services," she said.
A Bell Atlantic advertising campaign targeted to customers in New Jersey,
Pennsylvania and New York 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 11 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 "411"
code for directory assistance, say the state, city and name or business
whose number they want and the operator will provide it. Operators in
New Jersey will hand the call off to a second operator, who will search for
and provide the listing. This hand-off is required temporarily for New
Jersey customers pending a change in technology and will not
significantly slow down call processing.
"Our mission is simple -- to give excellent service at fair prices and
to keep directory assistance as hassle-free as it has always been," she
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 numbers like the ones AT&T and MCI use for their services.
Bell Atlantic's ad campaign will feature TV and 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 began to actively 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
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.