In Part III, you discover everything you need to know about ordering phone service. You may be ordering another phone line for your fax machine, a toll-free number for your customer service department, or a dedicated circuit for your new office, but no matter what you want to do, all of the information you need is in this part. The provisioning system for all of these items could come to a grinding halt for a number of reasons, so you need to know how to resolve any delays and get those phones up and ringing. The bonus round of this part is the Chapter 10, which covers the steps necessary to activate dedicated phone service and toll-free numbers.
Ordering regular phone lines
Changing your long-distance carrier
Rejects and their reasons
Validating your long-distance carrier
Casual dialing with 10-10 codes
Local number portability
Most of us don’t order new phone lines every month. They are
To avoid that stress, you need to understand how long it takes to activate a new phone number, add or change the long-distance carrier on it, validate the long-distance carrier you have on your lines, and cancel lines or service when you’re done with them. This chapter guides you through the steps necessary to do all of that, informs you about how to avoid pitfalls during the process, and
The world of telecom has two types of service, switched and dedicated. Switched service is what you probably have at your house. If you don’t have a phone system, but just have a jack in the wall and a phone number that is assigned to it, you have switched service. These are the regular phone lines (sometimes called POTS, or plain old telephone service) you use every day. Switched service is so commonplace that when you think about phone lines, you think about POTS.
Ordering a switched phone line seems like a simple task. All you need to do is pick up the phone and call your carrier to order one, right? Well, not exactly. Not every carrier can give you a phone number.
You can only order a phone line from a local exchange carrier (LEC) like Qwest, Bell South, or Verizon; competing local exchange carrier (CLEC) such as Mpower; or a cellphone company. These companies have been authorized by the U.S. government to distribute phone numbers. You can’t order a phone line from your long-distance carrier because the long-distance divisions of MCI, AT&T and Sprint are only authorized to complete calls sent to them. The U.S. government has not given them the authority to deal in the collection or distribution of phone
If you have any phone service at all, you receive an invoice from your local carrier every month for it. Having local services makes life easy when you want to order more phone lines because you just have to call the customer service number listed on your invoice and order them.
If you have just paid your local phone bill and don’t have one handy, don’t worry, there is still a way to find their phone number. If you have a regular local carrier, like Qwest, Bell South, or Verizon, you can simply dial 611 to reach customer service. Usually, this number is used for reporting trouble on your line, but many local
If you do not have a standard local carrier like Bell South or Verizon, but instead have a CLEC, you may hear any variety of recordings or responses. In this case, you have about five minutes more research before you can call them. Go to the
MCI, AT&T, and Sprint do have divisions that provide local service that can give you a phone line. You would call MCI local, AT&T local, or the local division of Sprint in Las Vegas, Nevada. This being said, unless your business has been
If you don’t have a phone bill handy, and, for some reason, dialing 611 doesn’t work, you can always dial the operator by pressing 0. Listen
Don’t worry. If all else fails, there is a foolproof way to get a phone number for your local carrier; it’s called the Internet. This is a simple process after you connect to the Internet:
Scroll down to the middle of the page and click the Search Area Code/Prefix/OCN link.
The Area Code/Prefix Search page appears.
Type your company’s area code in the box marked NPA. Type the first three digits of your company’s phone number in to the box
Click the Submit button.
The Search page refreshes and lists your company’s city, state, and local phone carrier.
When you know the name of your local carrier, you can find a phone number for it by starting a search from www.google.com or www.yahoo.com. When you visit your local carrier’s home page, you won’t have to look too hard to find a Contact Us section and a phone number for customer service.
If you move to another town, or across the country, you probably won’t know who the local carrier is for your new house or business. No problem. All you need is a phone number for any home or business within a five-mile radius of your new location. Plug the area code and prefix into the
site and you can find out their local carrier. Because local carriers
When you call your local carrier to place an order for new service, you have to navigatge through the maze of prompts. Eventually, you reach a nice person whose job it is to take your order. If you have existing phone service, this is generally a painless procedure. You’re asked to confirm your identity, your address, and the billing name on your invoice. When the
PIC (primary interexchange carrier) freeze
Depending on the procedures your local carrier has set up for activating and removing PIC
The benefit of a PIC freeze is that it protects your lines from having the long-distance carrier changed on it without your knowledge. In the industry,
occurs when a customer gets a new long-distance carrier that was never
Remember You may have to place PIC freezes on both intraLATA and interLATA lines, because carriers usually handle them seperately. If you place a freeze on only interLATA long-distance lines, you could have a long-distance carrier slam your intraLATA calls. Getting the freeze is fast, free, and easy, so place a freeze on all of your lines, and both the intraLATA and the interLATA options.
When your phone line is slammed, it is not always done intentionally. Quite often, it is the result of a typo on the part of someone at the carrier or one of the carrier’s customers. Many companies have so many phone lines that they don’t have a solid accounting of them. They may have 20 numbers in sequence and think their last number ends at -2328. In reality, the group of numbers may end at -2327. If the long distance carrier sends an order to your local carrier for the complete range of numbers, including the extra number (-2328), the actual owner of the phone number receives an order for a new long-distance carrier.
A similar typo could be made by an eyesore data entry employee in the provisioning department at a carrier where the number -2341 was entered rather than -2431. The
Your local carrier identifies two areas of coverage available for your long-distance carrier: intraLATA and interLATA.
, also known as
local toll calls
calls, cover any phone number you dial that is over (
You probably won’t simply wake up one day with an epiphany from the universe telling you that your long-distance carrier has changed. Most people figure it out by either receiving an invoice from a new long-distance carrier or discovering that all of their long-distance calls are suddenly blocked. As soon as you realize something is drastically wrong, call your local carrier. When you have a customer service agent on the phone, you should do the following:
Find out the name and contact number for the carrier that slammed you.
This information is necessary so that you can call the offending carrier and research what
Switch your long-distance back to your old carrier.
Your local carrier is the only company that can do this, but it doesn’t keep a record of previous long-distance carriers on phone lines. If you had a mainstream carrier like Sprint or MCI, tell your local carrier to switch your phone lines back and you won’t have any more problems. If you used a reseller or lesser-known carrier, you may need to call your old long-distance carrier to send in another order to switch your lines back.
After your phone lines are switched back, place a PIC freeze on all your lines.
Just because it has already happened once doesn’t mean it can’t happen again. You don’t need the hassle — again.
Dispute all charges for calls that went across slammed lines with your local carrier.
In short order, the second you start the dispute process, you will probably be chatting with a representative of the carrier that slammed you. This conversation will either occur because the carrier is responding to your dispute of the charges, or because you directly tracked the carrier down to discuss the matter. Unless the new long-distance carrier can confirm (by confirm I mean
Remember The cost of paying for slamming fees for violating FCC regulations is more than a few dollars, so it is in the best interest of the offending carrier to credit any charges and make the problem go away. If you have 1,000 minutes of usage to Dussledorf, Germany, or some other overseas location, you may hear some resistance when you ask for a credit. The truth of the matter is that you did make the calls, and they did complete them. A strong argument could be made that they should receive something for the service they provided. In this case, the very minimum you should negotiate from them is to receive a credit to adjust the rate they charged to what you would have paid on your old carrier.
Request a credit for the change charges.
Your local carrier is going to charge you a few dollars every time it changes your long-distance carrier. If the fee is $4.50 for every carrier change, you may be hit with an $18.00 charge per line. That’s because you have to pay four times; once to switch for your intraLATA calls to the new carrier ($4.50), once to switch your interLATA calls to the new carrier (another $4.50), two more times for moving them both back (another $9.00). If you have ten lines or more that were slammed, you should demand a credit for the change charges.
Your local carrier is only responsible for bringing your phone lines to the
minimum point of entry
If the main phone closet is at one end of your building and the new phone lines for your fax machines need to be run to the other end of it, someone needs to connect the phone lines from the MPOE to the room where your fax machines are sitting. The section of wiring that runs from the MPOE to your phone system or telephone is called your
Your local carrier has a set policy that stipulates whether it provides inside wiring, and how much installing inside wiring costs. The local carrier may be more than happy to provide the inside wiring, or it may have a
If you are a
If you aren’t a thrifty shopper, but like security, it is better to pay a little more and let your local carrier run the inside wiring if that option is available. If the local carrier
At some time during the call to add your new phone line, you find out your new phone number(s). Write down the number and then immediately give it to your long-distance carrier. Although it seems logical that your local carrier will tell your long-distance carrier about your new phone line, that is not always what happens.
Despite the fact that all carriers make their money by facilitating communication, you should never assume that your local carrier and long-distance carrier have great communication with each other. Many scenarios could prevent your long-distance carrier from knowing about a new phone line. If the number assigned to your company isn’t in sequence with your other lines, the long-distance carrier may not notice the addition. Or perhaps the new line is for a new office down the road from your main office. If the new office receives its own bill, the person doing data entry for your local carrier may not make the connection. Or maybe Mercury is in retrograde and the information just isn’t
If your long-distance carrier doesn’t receive the information to add phone lines to your account, you will suffer one of the following fates. Both fates are equally painful, but easily fixed (they both —
Fate number 1 —
When you receive your invoice, you see that you are paying 75
Solution: Call your long-distance carrier and have it place that phone line on your account. The problem is that the long-distance carrier may not be able to make the rate retroactive and credit you for the difference on the calls that have already been billed. You may be able to negotiate for a credit, and if the contested amount of the bill is $5 or less, the carrier may be agreeable. If you are asking for a rerate credit of $600 and you bill out an average of $10 per month, you can expect some resistance. You may be able to get some relief by escalating the issue to the supervisor at your long-distance carrier, but be prepared for the long-distance carrier to stick to its guns.
Fate number 2 — fraud block:
Long-distance cariers have either an
network or a
network. If the network is open,
The only way you can complete a call on a closed network is if your phone number has been placed into the long-distance company’s system prior to making your first call. If you attempt to place a call on a closed network, your call is rejected and your phone number is logged into the system as a number that is restricted. Because the closed network doesn’t have a billing reference or account set up for you, the carrier is
Solution: To remove a fraud block, call your long-distance carrier and make sure that it has an account for the phone number that’s experiencing the problem. After the account is updated to include the new number, tell the service agent to remove the fraud block.