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Ignorance, There's No Excuse.
PTs Experience w/CLASS
by Judge Dredd
For several months now, Illinois Bell has been hawking CLASS.
Brochures in the mail with our bills and newspaper advertisements have
told us about the wonderful new services soon to be offered.
It was just a question, they said, of waiting until your central
office had been converted. The new features being offered here are:
*66 Auto Call Back: Call back the last number which called you. No
need to know the number.
*69 Repeat Dial: If the number you dialed was busy, punching
this will keep trying the number for up to
30 minutes, and advise you when it can connect.
*60 Call Screening Enter:
# plus number to be screened out plus #
* plus number to be re-admitted plus *
# plus 01 plus # to add the number of the
last call you received, wheth or not
you know the number.
1 To play a list of the numbers being screened.
0 For a helpful recording of options, etc.
Distinctive Ringing Up to ten numbers can be programmed in. When a
call is received from one of these numbers, your
phone will give a special ring to advise you.
Multi-Ring Service Two additional numbers can be associated with
your number. When someone dials one of these
two numbers, your phone will give a special ring.
With both Distinctive Ringing and Multi-Ring Service, if you have Call
Waiting, the Call Waiting tones will be different from the norm also,
so that you can tell what is happening. With Multi-Ring Service, you
can have it programmed so the supplementary numbers associated with
your main number are forwarded when it is forwarded, or do not observe
forwarding, and 'ring through' despite what the main number is doing.
Alternate Answer Can be programmed so that after 3-7 rings,
the unanswered call will be automatically sent
to another line *WITHIN YOUR CENTRAL OFFICE*.
If the number assigned as an alternate is
itself busy or forwarded OUTSIDE YOUR OFFICE
then Alternate Answer will not forward the
call and continue to ring unanswered.
Transfer on Busy/ This is just another name for 'hunt'. The
No Answer difference is that hunt is free; Transfer on
Busy/NA costs a couple bucks per month. Like
Alternate Answer, it must forward only to a
number on the same switch. Unlike hunt, it
will work on NA as well. Unlike Alternate
Answer, it works on busy as well.
Caller*ID will be available 'eventually' they say.
Now my story begins:
From early this summer to the present, I've waited patiently for
CLASS to be available in Chicago-Rogers Park. Finally a date was
announced: October 15 the above features would be available. In
mid-September, I spoke with a rep in the Irving-Kildare Business
Office. She assured me *all* the above features would be available on
October 15. My bill is cut on the 13th of each month, and knowing the
nightmare of reading a bill which has d changes made in mid-month
(page after page of pro-rata entries for credits on the old service,
item by item; pro-rata entries for the new service going in, etc) it
made sense to implement changes on the billing date, to keep the
She couldn't write the order for the service to start October 13,
since CLASS was not officially available until the fifteenth. Well,
okay, so its either wait until November 13 or go ahead and start in
mid-month, worrying about reading the bill once it actually arrives.
I've been ambivilent about CLASS since it is not com ble with my
present service 'Starl e', but after much thought -- and since all
installation and order-writing on Custom Calling features is free now
through December 31! -- I decided to try out the new stuff.
She took the order Wednesday afternoon and quoted 'sometime Thursday'
for the work to be done. In fact it was done -- or mostly done -- by
mid-afternoon Thursday. But I should have known better. I should have
remembered my experience with Starline three years ago, when it took a
technician in the central office *one week* to get it all in and
working correctly. Still, I took IBT's word for it.
I got home about 5:30 PM Thursday. *You know* I sat down right away at
the phone to begin testing the new features! :) The lines were to be
equipped as follows:
Line 1: Call WaitingLine 2: Call Forwarding
Three Way Calling Speed Dial 8
Call Forwarding Busy Repeat Dialing *69
Speed Dial 8
Auto Call Back *66 (second line used mostly by modem;
Busy Repeat Dialing *69 so Call Waiting undesirable)
Call Screening *60
Alternate Answer (supposed to be programmed to Voice Mail;
another CO; another area code ;
even another telco [Centel]).
Busy Repeat Dialing did not work on the second line (not installed)
and Alternate Answer worked (but not as I understood it would) on the
first line. Plus, I had forgotten how to add 'last call received' to
the screening feature.
It is 5:45 ... business office open another fifteen minutes ... good!
I call 1-800-244-4444 which is IBT's idea of a new way to handle calls
to the business office. Everyone in the state of Illinois calls it,
and the calls go wherever someone is free. Before, we could call the
business office in our neighborhood direct ... no longer.
I call; I go on hold; I wait on hold five minutes. Finally a rep comes
on the line, a young fellow who probably Meant Well ...
After getting the preliminary information to look up my account, we
begin our conversation:
Me: You see from the order the new features put on today?
Him: Yes, which ones are you asking about?
Me: A couple questions. Explain how to add the last call received to
your call screening.
Him: Call screening? Well, that's not available in your area yet. You
see, it will be a few months before we offer it.
Me: Wait a minute! It was quoted to me two days ago, and it is on
the order you are reading now is it not?
[I read him the order number to confirm we had the same one.]
Him: Yes, it is on here, but it won't work. No matter what was written
up. Really, I have to apologize for whoever would have taken your
order and written it there.
Me: Hold on, hold on! It *is* installed, and it *is* working! I want
to know how to work it.
Him: No it is not installed. The only features we can offer you at
at this time are Busy Redial and Auto Callback. Would you like me
to put in an order for those?
Me: Let's talk to the supervisor instead.
Him: (in a huff) Gladly sir.
Supervisor comes on line and repeats what was said by the rep: Call
Screening is not available at this time in Chicago-Rogers Park.
At this point I am furious ...
Me: Let me speak to the rep who took this order (I quoted her by
Supervisor: I never heard of her. She might be in some other office.
Me: (suspicious) Say, is this Irving-Kildare?
Supervisor: No! Of course not! I am in Springfield, IL.
Me: Suppose you give me the name of the manager at Irving-Kildare
then, and I will call there tomorrow. (By now it was 6 PM; the
supervisor was getting figity and nervous wanting to go home.)
Supervisor: Here! Call this number tomorrow and ask for the manager of
that office, 1-800-244-4444.
Me: Baloney! Give me the manager's direct number!
Supervisor: Well okay, 312-xxx-xxxx, and ask for Ms. XXXX.
Me: (suspicious again) She is the manager there?
Supervisor: Yes, she will get you straightened out. Goodbye!
Comes Friday morning, I am on the phone a few minutes before 9 AM, at
the suggested direct number. Ms. XXXX reviewed the entire order and
got the Busy Repeat Dial feature added to line two ... but she
insisted the original rep was 'wrong for telling you call screening
was available ..' and the obligatory apology for 'one of my people who
mislead you'. I patiently explained to her also that in fact call
screening was installed and was working.
Manager: Oh really? Are you sure?
Me: I am positive. Would you do me a favor? Call the foreman and have
him call me back.
Manager: Well, someone will call you later.
Later that day, a rep called to say that yes indeed, I was correct. It
seems they had not been told call screening was now available in my
office. I told her that was odd, considering the rep who first took
the order knew all about it.
I asked when the Alternate Answer 'would be fixed' (bear in mind I
thought it would work outside the CO, which it would not, which is
why it kept ringing through to me instead of forwarding.)
She thought maybe the foreman could figure that out.
Maybe an hour later, a techician did call me to say he was rather
surprised that call screening was working on my line. He gave a
complete and concise explanation of how Alternate Answer and Transfer
on Busy/No Answer was to work. He offered to have it removed from my
line since it would be of no value to me as configured.
One question he could not answer: How do you add the last call
received to call screening? He could find the answer nowhere, but
said he would see to it I got 'the instruction booklet' in the mail
soon, so maybe I could figure it out myself.
I got busy with other things, and put the question aside ... until
early Saturday morning when I got one of my periodic crank calls from
the same number which has plagued me for a couple months now with
ring, then hangup calls on an irregular basis.
For the fun of it, I punched *69, and told the sassy little girl who
answered the phone to quit fooling around. She was, to say the least,
d and startled by my call back. I don't think I will hear from
her again. :)
But I decided to ask again how to add such a number to call screening,
so I called Repair Service.
The Repair Service clerk pulled me up on the tube *including the work
order from two days earlier* and like everyone else said:
Repair: You don't have Call Screening on your line. That is not
available yet in your area. We are adding new offices daily,
I *couldn't believe* what I was hearing ... I told her I did, and she
insisted I did not ... despite the order, despite what the computer
said. Finally t was on to her supervisor, but as it turned out, her
supervisor was the foreman on duty for the weekend. Like the others
he began with apologies for how I 'had been misinformed' ... no call
screening was available.
Me: Tell ya what. You say no, and I say yes. You're on the test
board, no? I'll hang up. You go on my line, dial *60, listen to
the recording you hear, then call me back. I will wait here. Take
your time. When you call back, you can apologize.
Foreman: Well, I'm not on the test board, I'm in my office on my own
Me: So go to the test board, or pick me up in there wherever it is
handy and use my line. Make a few calls. Add some numbers to the
call screening; then call me back with egg on your face, okay?
Foreman: Are you saying call screening is on your line and you have
Me: I have used it. Today. A few minutes ago I played with it.
Foreman: I'll call you back.
(Fifteen mionutes later) ...
Mr. Townson! Umm ... I have been with this company for 23
years. I'll get to the point: I have egg on my face. Not mine
really, but the company has the egg on the face. You are correct;
your line has call screening.
Me: 23 years you say? Are you a member of the Pioneers?
(surprised) Why, uh, yes I am.
Me: Fine organization isn't it ...
Me: I've heard a few things.
Foreman: Look, let me tell you something. I did not know -- nor *did
Me: You mean no one knew it w already in place?
Foreman: No, apparently not ... I think you are the only customer in
the Rogers Park office who has it at this time. Because the
assumption was it was not yet installed, the reps were told not to
take orders for it ... I do not know how your order slipped through.
Will you be telling others?
I have already made some calls, and yes, others will be told
Me: Well, you know the *81 feature to turn call screening on and off
is still not working.
Foreman: I'm not surprised. After all, none of it is supposed to be
working right now. You seem to know something about this business,
Me: I guess I've picked up a few things along the way.
We then chatted about the Transfer on Busy/No Answer feature. I asked
why, if my cell phone on 312-415-xxxx had the ability to transfer calls
out of the CO and be programmed/turned on and off from the phone
itself, my wire line could not. 312-415 is out of Chicago-Congress
... he thought it might have to do with that office having some
different generics than Rogers Park ... but he could not give a
So if there are any openings in the Telephone Pioneers, they ought to
select me! :) I seem to be first with CLASS in Rogers Park; I was one
of the first with Starline when it became available a few years ago
(and they had a hard time programming me back then also!); I suspect I
was one of the first people to have touch-tone service when I got it
back in the early sixties.
Indeed, getting CLASS has been a fun experience. A week or so from now
if I think of it, I'll let you know of any further developments in the
Ken Abrams, perhaps you'd like to pass this message along to folks
also. If they want to chat, they can find my number and call me.
well, its day before Halloween and just sayin that look for our NIAs
in the future and always store beer in a dark place. -JD