> [TELECOM Digest Editor's Note:
> Now regards the other part of your letter, children or other
> 'first-time users' of telco; how do they get service, etc? Well Lisa,
> I remember quite well, as you must, in the 1950-60's when you called
> the business office to get a phone installed, the 'telephone man' came
> out the same day or the next morning at latest, put it in and turned
> it on. There were no questions asked; there were no credit limits set;
> that was your business.
In Philadelphia (and I think NYC) new customers had to put in a
deposit for several months.
When I got my own phone line in my parents' house, they gave me a
choice of being on my parents' bill immediately or giving them a
deposit for an account in my name. I wanted to my account and some
privacy so I paid a deposit. I got it back after four months. It may
have had interest. (As an aside, their check was still in the old Bell
System logo and was pretty fancy. I wish I made a photocopy of it.)
As an aside, they used the yellow-black wires for my line. These were
once used for Trimline lights by the former owner but we didn't have
any Trimlines. I got basic black hard wired. Modular came out a few
I don't blame them for this policy since utilities get badly burned by
deadbeats. The "progressives" feel sorry for the poor and force
difficult procedures before service is cut off for any utility. The
reality is that many people take full advtg of this and cheat the
The Philadelphia Gas Works, being city owned and subject to extensive
pressure, had an extremely liberal disconnect policy and as a result a
huge deadbeat load. Finally pressure from other quarters--the people
who actually paid the bills--forced a change.
From time to time there's a fatal house fire from candles or stoves
where the electric is cut off for non payment, and the "cruel" electric
company is blamed, not the people who failed to pay the bill.
For whatever reasons, these pressures seem to be more of a city
problem. In the suburbs, the attitude is different.
> Now the other day, I decided to call AT&T to inquire about some sort
> of promotional deal I got in the mail; they refused to discuss it at
> all until they had my street address and social security number which
> I refused to give them. I guess things are changing a lot. PAT]
Part of this is to protect the company, part of it is to protect us
from identity theft. What irks me is that corporate American's never
ending battle to sell us more stuff is responsible for identity theft,
such as giving instant credit in stores and issuing credit cards like
crazy. Further, most businesses are national chains with processing
centralized, so there is no local controls or knowing the person.
I checked the requirements for a 16 y/o to get their first driver's
license. They are required to bring in a variety of documents, but one
of which must be a photo ID. A school transcript is not enough, this
is in addition to that. I guess all schools issue photo IDs now, my
public high school sure as heck didn't have the money for that. Our
computer generated class schedule card served as our ID card. 'Course
we didn't have metal detectors or cameras in public schools then
either. Do all schools give kids photo ID these days?
Cops sometimes stop pedestrians for suspicious activities, such as
taking pictures. I wonder what would happen if someone didn't have a
driver's license or state ID, but had other ID, like an employer's
card, library card, etc. I wish I had the resources to test the
system, but I don't and lawyers are expensive.