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Bell Atlantic Launches 'National 411'
in Washington, D.C.
No-Nonsense Directory Assistance Service
Offers Separate Prices for Local and National Listings
June 17, 1999
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- With one bold step, Bell Atlantic is coming to
the rescue of telephone customers in the District of Columbia 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, District residents and workers 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 36 cents, once residential customers have made
five free local directory assistance calls each month," Linder said.
"National listings will cost a competitive 95 cents."
Competing directory assistance services charge up to $1.40 for national
requests. "Consumers often don't know that they are likely to pay
more than they have to when they ask for a local listing from these
services," said Linder.
In January, New York was the first state in the company's serving area to
get the new service. National 411 has been available in metropolitan
Maryland and Virginia since early spring.
With National 411, customers simply dial the familiar "411"
code, say the city, state and name or business whose number they want
and the operator will provide it.
For the first 30 days of the service, Washington callers will be advised of
the price of the service and will have the option of canceling their request
for a distant number with no charge.
"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 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 access number also eliminates the need to remember a
long 10-10 dial-around number like the one MCI uses for its services.
Confusion over where to get quality listings at a fair price started when
long distance carriers 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.
Operators already providing the service in other areas 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 43 million telephone access lines
and nine 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.