TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Re: Old Party-Line Arrangements

Re: Old Party-Line Arrangements

Tony P. (
Wed, 9 Feb 2005 16:47:01 -0500

In article <>,

> Back in the 1970s I was making a lot of toll calls from home (thank
> goodness for cheap after 11pm rates). We had a private line served by
> a #5 XBAR in a city.

> Suddenly, my phone bill didn't show any long distance calls. Month
> after month went by. I finally called the phone company and reported
> it and they denied anything was wrong. About a month later someone
> from the _business_ subscriber service (not residential) called me to
> report they found a problem with my line. The man said somehow my
> "tip and ring were confused with a business customer and my toll calls
> were charged to him; they reviewed the calls against my past usage and
> put them back on my bill; I would be allowed to pay it out over a few
> months."

> I don't know how the internals confused my line and this business's
> for billing purposes, his number wasn't anything like mine. But the
> toll calls were mine and my own calls showed up again.

> As I understood it, the businessman noticed my toll calls (being made
> late at night) and repeatedly complained to the company it couldn't
> have come from his place. The phone company simply said someone must
> have access and using his phones. After I guess he made a big enough
> stink they researched it and found the 'tip/ring' problem and fixed
> it. Oh yes -- he called one of the numbers I called and got more info.

> The only subsequent problem was that while the man said I could pay it
> out, the regular _residential_ service people demanded the full
> payment at once.

In the early 90's I'd moved and gotten a new phone number. But months
went by and I never received a bill. I'd dutifully call Nynex every
month and try to explain that I was using the line, I should be
getting the bill.

Try as I might, this went on for eighteen months. When I finally got
someone to research it they found out that the order had been
processed but the paperwork was never sent to billing. Not only that,
but the audit cycles never caught the fact that they had an in service
line that wasn't being billed.

I agreed to pay the local service charges. I think the grand total
came to $150 or so for the eighteen months. Because this was
post-breakup though, my AT&T LD calls were a mystery until I got a
call from a friend in New Jersey asking if I'd been messing with the
phone system again.

Turns out he's gotten a call from the local VA hospital asking who he
knew at the hospital that made calls to him on certain dates and
times. Of course while he was talking to them he didn't make the
connection so to speak but then it popped in his head and he called

Turns out their main switchboard was 273-7100, part of which was 273-
7106. My number was 273-0716 -- yep, a typo. When they PIC'd my line they
miss-keyed the number as 273-7106, in essence the zero moved three
places to the right.

Never could wade deep enough through the government beauracracy to find
out how much I owed them. Oh well.

[TELECOM Digest Editor's Note: Almost the very same thing with me, in
1975. I got a new phone, outside plant came out and installed it, but
they somehow failed to pass along the paperwork to the billing/accounting
people, so I never did get a bill for about a year. Soon enough, in a
month or so I knew there had been some error. As long as no 'coin rated'
calls were made on that line, I probably never would have received a
bill. But then, about a year later, some $#%@# phreak made a third-party
call and billed it to my number. Eventually *that* paperwork (the
charge ticket) made its way through to accounting; the computer said
there is no such working number and the charge fell out of the system,
and wound up in the ever increasing, seldom-resolved work of an
investigator, who as part of his work decided to *call the number in
question* and see if it was really disconnected. Of course, it was
a working number; mine. He called plant and asked them; they claimed
the paperwork had gone through long before. When my first bill finally
came, it was marked for service to present time for *13 months*,plus
of course the next month in advance. Oooh, that stung! I pleaded my
case to the service rep: if you can't see your way clear to just write
it off, at least give me a few months to pay the bill. She would not
agree to write it off, but did say I could have three months to pay
the entire bill; at that point it would be 13+3 = 16 months or 5
payments each month for 3 months plus a final installment. The rep
had sort of a smirk in her voice as she said to me, "But Mr. Townson,
you KNEW what you were doing! We share some of the blame also, which
is why I am not going to demand all the payment by the due date in
a month." PAT]

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