Index Home About Blog
From: John Higdon <>
Subject: Re: Sleazy Touch-Tone Marketing Tactics
Date: 28 Sep 89 10:07:39 GMT
Organization: Green Hills and Cows

Years ago, one of my clients had a Stromberg E120 connected to a #5
crossbar exchange. Somehow the trunks went in without touchtone
specified and as a result the customer was not paying for it, but in
this particular office tone service could not be denied (apparently
there were no originating registers not tone receiver equipped).

Their bookkeeper called me one day to complain that suddenly the basic
rate had gone up and wanted me to look into it. I was told by Pacific
Telephone that one of their "agents" had gone through the building
looking for businesses that were using touchtone and not paying for it
and had spotted the TT phones in my client's suite. I told them that
since those phones were connected to a PBX that it was possible that
the customer's switch could be doing tone-to-pulse conversion and that
simply tacking charges onto the bill based upon visual inspection was
very sleazy. In fact, I told them such was the case (I lied) and
demanded that the charges be removed immediately.

They asked for assurance that absolutely no tones were being sent over
the lines. I refused and told them to simply "remove the touch tone
service". They warned me that if they did and the customer was indeed
using tones to dial calls, then their calls would no longer go through.
I acknowledged that and again asked to have the service removed. It
finally came down to the fact they couldn't "remove" the service.

At this point I told them that my client wasn't going to pay for
something "extra" that PacTel was forced to provide for everyone anyway.
My final position was that if they were providing a "cost extra"
service and we didn't pay for it, then take it away. But we weren't
going to pay.

Apparently, the tariffs were written in such a way to allow me to get
away with this tactic. I had PacTel over a barrel and they knew it.
Then a supervisor said that when they cut over to new equipment, they
*would* be able to deny touchtone and that my client would be screwed.
I countered that we would pay for it *then*. As it turned out, years
later when they cut crossbar offices to electronic, they would send out
notices that in essence indicated that if you had touchtone equipment
and were not subscribing to the service that you would have to start
subscribing and paying or have your calls not go through.

It is interesting to note that this particular exchange is still
crossbar to this day but unfortunately my client moved into an ESS office
and now has to pay for touchtone.

        John Higdon         |   P. O. Box 7648   |   +1 408 723 1395      | San Jose, CA 95150 |       M o o !

Index Home About Blog