TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Foreign Listings Again

Foreign Listings Again

Fred Atkinson (
Mon, 27 Jun 2005 22:30:15 -0400


Some of you may remember that last year (when I switched over to VOIP)
that I went round and round with Bellsouth trying to get my VOIP
number listed with directory assistance.

Bellsouth doesn't properly inform their CSRs that they do list numbers
with directory assistance and in the phone book for phones that are
not provided by Bellsouth. It is called a foreign listing. They
create what is called a special account to bill you for it. Bellsouth
charges me $2.20 per month and bill it annually. I understand that
the rate varies depending upon the call center that you are listed in.

To refresh memories and inform those who are just now hearing about
this, Bellsouth kept telling me they were transfering me to 'someone
who could help me' and then transfered me blindly back into the queue.
I went through person after person who couldn't help me. Once I went
through fifteen people and still couldn't get it done. Some of them
had the nerve to tell me it couldn't be done. I knew that wasn't

So, I escalated to the South Carolina Public Service Commission. I
was very promptly contacted by someone at Bellsouth who immediately
took my information and got my number listed in directory assistance.
It's been listed with directory assistance for over a year now. Call
directory assistance and ask for Fred Atkinson in Columbia, SC and you
will get my Vonage number. Positive proof.

Well, I just accepted a position in western North Carolina. I will be
living in a small city called Sylva, NC. As Vonage doesn't provide
service there, I had to go with one of three alternate VOIP providers.
I chose a company called Voicepulse. Even though I haven't moved into
the house I've rented up there yet, I've already got my telephone
service and my phone number for the Sylva area.

The local provider is Verizon. I had corresponded with their customer
service via email. They had told me that it was no problem to get my number
listed as soon as I had it. They even quoted the rate for it (about $1.10
per month billed annually).

After I got my Voicepulse number, I emailed them with the information
they said they needed. They didn't answer, and didn't answer, and
didn't answer. So I called their customer service number to get help.
Several of them told me it couldn't be done. I insisted upon speaking
to someone else. Unlike Bellsouth (who blindly transfers you to
someone else who can't help you), Verizon puts you on music on hold
and just leaves you there. After fifteen to thirty minutes, you
figure you've been completely forgotten about and hang up and call

After a couple of days of futility, I called the North Carolina PSC.
They said they'd call Verizon and get this done for me. While
waiting, I continued to try to get through to the customer service

After one more customer service person incorrectly told me that it
couldn't be done, I began to get a little upset. Turns out a
supervisor was monitoring the call. She broke in and told me that she
could help me. She took my information and said an order taker would
call me in a few minutes to verify the information and give me an
order number. Surprisingly, it actually happened.

A few hours later, I got a call from a person that was with what I
believe she called Verizon complaint investigation. I told her that I had
finally gotten someone to take the order and gave her the order number
asking that she make sure it actually got done. She did and called me back
saying it was in the system and finalized. I thanked her for calling.

I called directory assistance this morning and asked for Fred Atkinson
in Sylva, North Carolina. Sure enough, they gave me my Voicepulse
telephone number.

It seems ridiculous that one should have to go through regulatory
channels to get a simple telephone listing done. And it doesn't seem
to matter which phone company you go to for this.

However, if anyone here is trying to do that with either Verizon or
Bellsouth, they can refer to my foreign residential listings when they
tell you it 'can't be done'. Short of that, call the appropriate
state PSC for help.


Fred Atkinson

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