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Jeff Root
2012-Oct-27, 09:01 PM
My phone company is CenturyLink (formerly Qwest,
formerly US West, formerly Northwestern Bell). I do
not have long distance service. There is no entry on
my monthly bill for it. If I were to dial a long distance
number that is not toll-free, what would happen?
Would the call fail to go through? Or would I begin
seeing long distance charges on my bill? Or what?

-- Jeff, in Minneapolis

Gillianren
2012-Oct-27, 09:58 PM
Your call won't go through. I have the same phone company and no long distance, and that's what happens to me. (Even local long distance, which means I couldn't even call Treb!)

pzkpfw
2012-Oct-27, 10:15 PM
Basic Phone — Applies to 1 residential phone line with direct-dial local voice calling only; excludes commercial use, dial-up internet connections, conference lines, directory and operator assistance, multi-party conference calls, or other non single path person to person conversation or voice message.. CenturyLink reserves the right to move a customer on this plan to an alternative plan if usage on the plan does not resemble typical residential, local voice calling. Calling features, nationwide calling, and international calling are not available.

I thought that was interesting, and they reserve the right to move people to other plans.

Chuck
2012-Oct-27, 10:19 PM
I think you can dial a 1010 number to get a long distance call through, such as 1010925 to get to Yak long distance and then dial your number. The charge from Yak would appear on your phone bill.

Jeff Root
2012-Oct-27, 11:09 PM
Whoa! My impression was that he is just across the narrow
end of the Sound from you. The western half of Washington
is all the same local calling area (LATA). My sister lives 40
miles outside Minneapolis, but she is in the Twin Cities
LATA, so I dial ten digits to reach her (not 1+10) and it is
still a local call.

The reason I asked is that we recently discovered that my
parents have been paying for long distance service but not
using it. My sister suggested that the service (and billing)
must have started when they made a long distance call
some years ago. My guess is that they got long distance
service when they moved in 12 years ago, and then forgot
about it. Or it was automatically added on when local
service started, and they never noticed.

It took me a while to notice that I was being billed for
long distance service (about two years, I think), and then
had it turned off. It didn't occur to me that the same thing
was going on with my parents, so they probably paid for
it for eleven years before we noticed.

-- Jeff, in Minneapolis

Ara Pacis
2012-Oct-28, 12:02 AM
I don't recall. I have local only when I lived in the city for toll free calling and dial up internet and used my cell for everything else, which had no LD distinction. It may depend on your service. It may not go through, or they may charge you a special charge. My last job was with a phone company, but the service wasn't available without LD, either unlimited or a flat rate. The whole pricing system of telcos is antiquated if you ask me.

Trebuchet
2012-Oct-28, 12:06 AM
Whoa! My impression was that he is just across the narrow
end of the Sound from you. The western half of Washington
is all the same local calling area (LATA).

Actually, about 90 miles north, and a little east or west, depending on which place I'm at.

Gillian, I propose an experiment: I'll PM you my cell number and you can try to call it. If that works, we'll try the landline next. If not, you can note it here.

Gillianren
2012-Oct-28, 01:21 AM
I call Port Townsend once a year, actually. (November 5, my daughter's birthday.) What I used to get when I called her--and she's 360, same as I am--was "Your call cannot be completed as dialed." I can call Yelm, I know, but I don't know how much farther than that. Not Port Townsend, and not any number that isn't 360. I borrow a cell phone for the birthday call.

Trebuchet
2012-Oct-28, 05:28 AM
Hmm, thought I posted a minute ago but don't see it. Anyhow, this article (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LATA) seems to suggest that if you're in the same LATA (as I think we are) long distance is handled by your local phone company, not by a long distance carrier. You'd probably have to dial "1" to get there, however.

We're thinking of dropping our long distance service since we have cell phones that do that for no extra charge.

mike alexander
2012-Oct-28, 01:59 PM
I gave up trying to figure out phone service long ago. I currently operate on the assumption that someone is trying to bilk me on my service at any given time.

I have never liked telephones, anyway.

Trebuchet
2012-Oct-28, 02:44 PM
That's not a bad assumption for a lot of other services, either. Take Cable TV. Please.

Enemy
2012-Oct-28, 04:09 PM
(November 5, my daughter's birthday.) What I used to get when I called her--and she's 360

Please pass on all of our greetings for a happy 361st!

caveman1917
2012-Oct-28, 04:47 PM
Please pass on all of our greetings for a happy 361st!

Just beaten to it again :)

Gillianren
2012-Oct-28, 06:05 PM
To clarify (and, yes, I get the joke, thank you), 360 is the area code for certain parts of Western Washington. In the US, phone service is divided into area codes, and theoretically, anything outside your area code counts as long distance. The issue at hand for certain area codes is that they are "local long distance" if they are big enough and you're calling far enough across them. Olympia and Port Townsend, Washington, are in the same area code, but a call from one to the other does not count as a local call.

caveman1917
2012-Oct-28, 06:44 PM
To clarify (and, yes, I get the joke, thank you), 360 is the area code for certain parts of Western Washington. In the US, phone service is divided into area codes, and theoretically, anything outside your area code counts as long distance. The issue at hand for certain area codes is that they are "local long distance" if they are big enough and you're calling far enough across them. Olympia and Port Townsend, Washington, are in the same area code, but a call from one to the other does not count as a local call.

So even if you're calling in the same area code they still find a way to charge you more. I suppose they don't do the opposite, ie give you a reduction if you're calling someone close by who happens to be in a different area code, such as when you're close to the border?

Gillianren
2012-Oct-28, 06:48 PM
I shouldn't think so, no. I think crossing an area code means you're dealing with your long distance carrier--and we don't have one of those.

Scratchy Dawg
2012-Oct-28, 06:59 PM
To clarify (and, yes, I get the joke, thank you), 360 is the area code for certain parts of Western Washington. In the US, phone service is divided into area codes, and theoretically, anything outside your area code counts as long distance. The issue at hand for certain area codes is that they are "local long distance" if they are big enough and you're calling far enough across them. Olympia and Port Townsend, Washington, are in the same area code, but a call from one to the other does not count as a local call.

I don't live in the US, but I did once, and for reasons I'd rather not get into, I had to learn more about this topic than I ever cared to know :( It's been almost two decades, so memory fades. However, as I recall, the relation between the area codes and the local vs. long distance dichotomy is not a simple one. Prior to the 1980s, most of the population had telephone service from a single company, which provided both local and long distance service. (There were still many independent telephone services which required between-firm network connections, but these independents served mostly the more rural areas without many people.)

Then, as a result of a lawsuit, the major telephone firm divested itself of local operations, becoming only (as far as telephone service goes, it still had other lines of business) a long distance company. Simultaneously, competition was introduced in the long distance market. Calls which were "local" were handled by local firms, and calls which were "long distance" were delivered by the local firm into the waiting hands of the customer's long distance firm. In this arrangement, the local firm actually became a subcontractor of the long distance firm.

But, although there was some effort to ensure that the local calling areas overlapped with the area codes, this was not always the case, and both sorts of violations occurred. Two points could be in the same area code but different local calling areas (so that a call between them was a long distance call), or in different area codes but the same local calling area (so that a call between them was a local call). I recall that from some locations, some people within the same area code could be long distance, whereas other people within different area codes were local. Add to this a distressing lack of standards in dialling rules (Do you dial "1" to make a long distance call within the same area code? It depends on where you live!), and there was considerable consumer confusion on which calls were local and which were long distance.

So, this unholy branch of knowledge which I had managed to force into the dark reaches of my brain, has now been brought forward again to torment me. I will endeavour to forget again.

Scratchy Dawg
2012-Oct-28, 07:06 PM
So even if you're calling in the same area code they still find a way to charge you more. I suppose they don't do the opposite, ie give you a reduction if you're calling someone close by who happens to be in a different area code, such as when you're close to the border?

This was posted while I was composing my lengthy reply. Having different area codes does not necessarily mean long distance. But when it did, there usually wasn't any accommodation for calls between people who were just on opposite sides of the boundary. There were a few exceptions to this rule, but mostly the issue was avoided by trying to draw the lines in less populated areas. That can only reduce, not eliminate the problem though.

In addition to all this, there is the issue of the federal structure of the government in the US, which placed "long distance" calls within the same state under the regulatory authority of the state, but "long distance" calls between different states under the regulatory authority of the federal government. It might have sometimes therefore been less expensive to call from New York to California, than to call from one part of New York to another.

Scratchy Dawg
2012-Oct-28, 07:08 PM
I shouldn't think so, no. I think crossing an area code means you're dealing with your long distance carrier--and we don't have one of those.

That may be the case where you live, but it is not universal. Due to the widespread adoption of fax at first, and then mobile phones, many area codes were "split," and people who were once in the same area code, suddenly became residents of different area codes. This did not cause it to be a long distance call, if it had not been previoulsy though.

Gillianren
2012-Oct-28, 09:22 PM
That may be the case where you live, but it is not universal. Due to the widespread adoption of fax at first, and then mobile phones, many area codes were "split," and people who were once in the same area code, suddenly became residents of different area codes. This did not cause it to be a long distance call, if it had not been previoulsy though.

I'm not sure that's true. My childhood phone number has been three separate area codes in my lifetime (we did know other people in 818, as it was our area code), and it meant that people who had previously been in our local calling weren't anymore. However, that was so long ago that I don't remember the details. Actually, the Western Washington area code split into several at about the same time that I moved here, but I only knew one person. I was in 360, and my sister was in . . . 206, I think, and she was long distance.

Tobin Dax
2012-Oct-28, 10:47 PM
The area code split in Oregon happened about the same time as it happened in Washington, but, a bit more than ten years ago, they added the 971 area code to the Portland region. So 503 and 971 area codes coexist in the same city. Calling one area code from the other in Salem isn't long distance, but calling either area code in Portland from Salem is long distance. All of the new area codes seem to have made thing that much more confusing.

Jeff Root
2012-Oct-28, 11:09 PM
Scratchy Dawg gave a remarkably understandable and
concise explanation which matches my understanding of
what happened. Maybe I'm not so isolated as I thought
in my belief that while TPC may be evil, the breakup and
its aftermath is much eviller.

The LATA which covers the Twin Cities includes four area
codes and apparently a few exchanges in a fifth. A much
larger part of Minnesota than that was all one area code
in 1990. I have long thought that using existing area
codes for cell phones was an insanely bad idea. It ties
phones to specific area codes where there isn't necessarily
any connection, and uses up the numbers for people who
actually live in those areas, forcing them to be split.
Insanely bad idea.

Probably as an attempt at appeasement, the LATA here
is slightly larger than it was before the splits, so that
my sister is no longer a charged long-distance call, even
though she is no longer in the same area code.

So, on the original question, does anyone disagree with
Gillian's expectation that trying to make a long-distance
call from a Qwest phone in the Twin Cities which did not
have long-distance service, sometime in the last 12 years,
would probably not have automatically started monthly
billing for long-distance service? Not that it would be a
terribly big deal if it happened again.

-- Jeff, in Minneapolis

Trebuchet
2012-Oct-29, 05:00 AM
When the 425 and 360 area codes split from 206 (funny how the big city never has to be the one to change, isn't it?), my mother-in-law in Marysville, WA wound up in 360 and we in Everett wound up in 425. It remained a local call. But places further south in the same 425 code which had been "local long distance" before, such as Bellevue, remained long distance.

cjl
2012-Oct-29, 10:05 AM
I believe in this area, several area codes all count as local - I would be shocked at least if they weren't, since I have many friends who live less than 10 miles away in a different area code (specifically, area code 303 and area code 720, which technically cover the exact same part of Colorado near Denver). I believe it is long distance to call to my friends in southern Colorado however, which is area code 719. Of course, in my case, the question is somewhat academic, since I only have a cell phone, and my plan doesn't appear to distinguish between local and long distance calls.

SeanF
2012-Oct-29, 02:41 PM
Your call won't go through. I have the same phone company and no long distance, and that's what happens to me. (Even local long distance, which means I couldn't even call Treb!)
Interesting. We used to have QWest (we now just have cell phones, no landline), and we were able to make long-distance calls without having a designated long-distance carrier. There would be an individual charge for that call on that month's bill, using whatever Qwest's default LD carrier was (I think it was MCI at the time), but it didn't add an ongoing monthly charge. Maybe they've changed things. Since we no longer have the service, I can't test it.

At any rate, Jeff, I think what probably happened to Jeff's parents is that they agreed to add a long-distance carrier to their account without realizing it. The phone companies are masters at "suggesting" such things without it being obvious what you're agreeing to.