Foreign Listings Again


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 true.

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 back.

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 number.

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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Fred Atkinson
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