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EAC / Preparing for Departure / Facts About U.S. / Telephone Service

The telephone system in the U.S. is composed of many privately-owned but cooperating companies. If you live off-campus, you may have to choose a telephone company, especially for long distance service. To make the best choice, you need to get as much information from each company as you can and decide which service offers the most economical plan for you.

Special Numbers

If there is an emergency, call 911, anywhere in the country.

To call information, to find out a phone number in your area code, dial 555-1212, anywhere in the country. To find out a number in another area code, dial 1-(area code)-555-1212. You will have to pay a small fee for these calls.

If a telephone number begins 1-800, it is a toll-free number. The call is free. But 1-900-... numbers are NOT free, and in fact are very expensive.

Local Calls

If you pay for telephone service, there is no extra charge for local calls. A local call from a pay phone usually costs $.25. To make a short distance toll call, a call that is in the same area code but too far away to be a local call, dial 1-(area code)-number. The charge will be more than a local call.

Long Distance Calls

To make a long distance call, a call in another area code, dial 1-(area code)-number. The most inexpensive time to call is on the weekend (up to 60% less) and after 11 p.m. on weeknights. A call from 5-11 p.m. is less expensive than a call during working hours.

When calling Russia, the country code is 7. To dial direct, 011-7-(city code)-number. For an operator-assisted call, dial 01-7-(city code)-number. The cheapest time to call Russia is from 2-7 am, at approximately $1.60/minute. It can cost from $2-$3/minute at other times. Contact your long distance phone company to see if there are any special plans or options that would be more economical for you.

Operator-Assisted Calls

Sometimes an operator will get on the line to help you; other times the call will be automated. For any operator-assisted calls, dial 0-(area code)-number. To simply speak to an operator, dial 0.

Collect Call - You want the party accepting the call to pay for the call. The party has the right to refuse or accept the charges.

Person-to-Person Call. You want to speak only to a specific person. If that person is not there, you will not pay for the call. If the person is there, you will pay more than you would for an ordinary long distance call.

Telephone Tidbits

Every region of the country has a local telephone book which you should receive free when you register for phone service. White pages list residential and some business numbers, while the yellow pages are business listings by subject. Use the yellow pages! Blue pages list numbers of government agencies.

It will be your responsibility to pay for your phone bill every month. In a dormitory, local charges are probably covered in the cost of the room, but you will have to pay long distance charges. If you are renting an apartment, there will be a monthly fee for telephone service plus itemized charges for long distance calls. These bills must be paid punctually. When you receive the bill in the mail, there will be a form to mail back with the correct payment. Do not send cash.

It is very common for individuals and businesses to have answering machines. Don't be afraid - leave a message!

If you are staying at a hotel, remember that phone calls are not included in the cost of the room.

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