Tuesday July 26, 2005

Sour on Bellsouth

Contributed by Potato Head

“We’re sorry; it is not necessary to dial a 1 or a 0 before dialing this number. Please hang up and try your call again.”

This is Broken. When I’m calling someone in Broward from another part of Broward, depending on the combination of numbers you either must dial a 1, or you must not dial a 1 (same goes for dialing Dade from Broward). How can you tell which it is? Well, you guess. If you guess wrong, the Bellsouth Bimbo gives you the line above, but it’s a lie. She should say “it is not permissible do dial a 1 or 0 . . .” If you’ve dialed the number before you’re forced to remember whether to hit the 1 first, otherwise it’s trial and error.

Are there people in north Broward with the same phone number as someone in South Broward? Of course not (otherwise you would be connected to them if you did the “wrong” thing). But if everyone’s number is unique, why is Bellsouth putting me through this? Because of their incompetence, that’s why. This situation bugs the crap out of every single one of their customers, and they don’t care enough to fix it.

I got a cell phone, disconnected my home land line, and am no longer using Bellsouth phone service.

Can they do anything right? For awhile I was using Bellsouth web hosting. About a year ago, they switched servers (why, why, why?? everything was working), and suddenly my e-mail died. I called their tech support, and waited for the next available tech support specialist (insert your own joke here). I waited for four and a half hours. Got the guy on, explained the situation (a slightly non-standard DNS arrangement), and he told me what to do. Well, to make a long story short, it didn’t work. It took three more calls to Bellsouth, over four hours on hold each time, re-explaining the situation each time, before they fixed the problem. Mind you, this is for a $20 per month service which is easily available for $8 these days. I am no longer using Bellsouth web hosting.

For awhile, I had Bellsouth DSL. It crashed. Regularly. I am no longer using Bellsouth DSL. (And I might add that they’re engaging in the same pricing bullshit as many others; why should I care what the monthly fee is for the first three months if I have to sign a contract for a year??)

Steve may have good cause to hate FPL, but Bellsouth gets my vote for least competent Florida company. I was reading this article, and noticed a banner ad for Bellsouth above it – they’re running a sweepstakes for $10,000 for new customers (you may not be able to see the ad there anymore; they rotate them each time the page is loaded). There is some sort of parallel between that tactic and the one described in the article – two powerful entities employing desperate measures to stay in power, while millions wait for them to die.

Update: This post got picked up on This is Broken, where a suprising number of people from all over the country reported having the same dialing problems with their local tellcos. Maybe, for some unfantomable reason, there really is no practical way to fix it. We struggle to conceive how that might be (again, the system knows enough to tell you what to do, just not enough to DO it automatically), but surely the phone companies get complaints about this, and they must have looked at trying to fix it. Maybe the infastructure just is what it is?

Still, if the phone companies can’t fix it, we’re all going to drop our land lines and they’re going to die. Hopefully all that infastructure can be put to use as data lines.

Update (1.21.06): Bellsouth tried to extort money out of Google.

Update (11.03.06): We still use their DSL and web hosting at work (long story as to why); once, the service went down for a few hours. I called their tech support and got a recording that said something like “we are currently experiencing a high call volume and will be unable to take you call” and hung up on me.

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  1. TC Byrd    Tue Jul 26, 01:29 PM #  

    I have had problems with the one-or-zero thing here in Mississippi, with the additional grief of the occasional call that demands the one or zero, then when you dial it WITH, it says you do NOT need the one or zero, infinite loop. Talk about pissing you off. OK, so I don’t need the one or zero and i dialed it anyway—just process the damn call, why don’t you?!

  2. Boob at FPL    Tue Jul 26, 04:58 PM #  

    All of us here at Florida Plunder and Loot (FPL) consider BellSouth our corporate role model and hero. Years ago, they figured out it costs less to make excuses than improvements, and formulated the “Aggressive Apology Policy,” which substitutes courtesy for competence. Tough break when competition came along—that cost ‘em a lot of money as people bailed off the system. Fortunately, we at FPL don’t have that to worry about that. We got you by the balls, and we know it. More “power” to us! Heh heh heh.

  3. sir_flexalot    Tue Oct 4, 12:15 PM #  

    San Diego has two area codes, 619 and 858, and I knew people with numbers that were 619-858-.... you can imagine how much confusion there was with that, plus many times you’d dial a number from somewhere and get the wrong person, b/c you didn’t realize that the phone you were dialing from was in the other area code.

  4. David Ellyatt    Wed Oct 5, 08:58 AM #  

    It is exactly the same here in Grand Rapids MI, which has the 616 area code. Some places you need to dial 1-616 before the number even if you are calling from the same area code. Other numbers of course do not need to dial the area code. Cell phone calls to any 616 number from a 616 cell phone strangely never need the area code period.

    On top of that 616 is in fact the correct number of the beast

  5. David    Wed Oct 5, 06:18 PM #  

    I think you’ll find most metro areas have the same issues. It’s very unnerving.

    And then there’s the reverse issue: not knowing if a 1+ number you’re dialing is long-distance or not. Some area codes are local calls, but some aren’t. How do you know?

    It might make the most sense if all local calls were 10-digit, and all toll calls were 1+.

    Another poster mentioned cell phones, and I’ve observed this also. I don’t think I dial 1+ when calling any number on my cell phone. It Just Works.

  6. David Johnson    Wed Oct 5, 07:39 PM #  

    The main problem with telephone numbers in general is that we’re still trying to use a numbering system developed when everyone who had a phone had a phone and the population of the country was a third of what it is now.

    It’s time to admit that what we need to do is drop the whole “dial 1,” area code mess and just go with ten (or, to be safe, eleven) digit numbers. No more worries your area code will change, no more need to change business cards if it does, no need to remember to dial (or not dial) a code if you’re in a different area. Just have a number and dial it…

  7. Brian    Wed Oct 12, 09:11 PM #  

    I live in the Atlanta metro area and we don’t have that problem. We have three area codes that are local: 404 (Atlanta), 770 (surrounding areas), and 678 (overflow from both of the above). I have BellSouth and you don’t have to dial a 1 ahead of any of these. You just dial the 10-digit number. If you are not calling to someone in one of these, you do dial a 1. It is really simple. Like all phone systems should be.

  8. BellSouthhater    Sat Nov 19, 01:18 PM #  

    I would rather get a ravaging STD than do business with Bell South.

  9. Miami Harold    Sat Nov 19, 04:14 PM #  

    And now it turns out that 40% of those fallen power poles

    actually belonged to BellSouth, not FPL.

    Nests of thieves.

    Can’t wait for the finger pointing

    as the class action suits proceed.