why do I still need to dial 1 for long distance?

this has thrown me into a fit of rage about a dozen times in the past few months — I mean seriously, modern phone systems must be able to handle this is a more elegant way.

here’s the situation: on my cell phone, I don’t have to think about whether I’m dialing next door, across town, across state, or to Canada* — I dial 10 digits, and the call goes through. I get home and do the same thing, and half the time the call fails. area code 202 (Washington DC) is a different area code, but NOT long distance. area code 301 (our local) is sometimes long distance — and I have no idea where the boundaries are. and then 410 (MD) and 703 (VA) are clearly long distance, but the point is I just don’t want to have to think about it.

because here’s the thing — we’ve had 10 digit dialing for over 10 years in Maryland, so it’s already the way we dial. now the phone company systems are smart enough to know if a call is long distance because if I dial an LD number without the +1, it gives me a recording telling me to hang up, and dial again: 1+ the number. I don’t remember phone numbers anymore (they’re all in the Treo), so I usually have to look the number up again (yes, it’s already forgotten), dial 1, then the rest of the number. and at this point i’m ranting to KJ and the person I’m calling hears me full of rage (“HAPPY MOTHERS DAY – GRRR!!!”)

here’s the better way for this to work: the phone system realizes it’s long distance, and a pleasant voice says, “the number you entered is not in your local calling area; press 1 to connect this call (charges may apply) or hang up to cancel.” that would be so easy to implement, and virtually no frustration for the dialer.

OK, so at this point you think I’m off my rocker, ranting instead of dialing +1, but here’s the kicker: we don’t pay for long distance. long distance is so cheap now, our telecom company bundles unlimited long distance (48 states + Canada) as part of the phone-internet-cable bundle that we get. so it’s not even an issue of of charges! now is my frustration warranted?!

seriously, phone companies — this is a free innovation for you. figure out how to implement it, let me know, and you’ve won a new customer.

* oh yeah, the flip side of this problem — my cell provider is more than happy to forward my calls to Canada, without requiring +1 and without letting me know about additional charges.  then they slap me with $0.50/minute or so for the pleasure.  so in that case, I wish they’d say “press 1 to accept charges” as I might think twice about calling until I get home to the free LD…



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11 responses to “why do I still need to dial 1 for long distance?

  1. Bryan

    My frustration with this issue manifests itself in a different way. Suppose your number (long distance for me) pops up on my caller ID. I cannot simply push the “call” and have it dial you because the “1” does not show up on the caller ID. Local call? No problem, just push the button and it dials right through. I can barely remember the number from the time I read it on the caller ID to the time I punch it in the keypad. What a pain.

  2. Alas, we do not have ten digit dialing out here; in fact, our land lines cannot make sense of ten digit dialing.
    You may also want to see if your cellular provider has anything for calls to Canada, if you do any volume.

  3. oh man, you reminded me about the caller-ID/dial-back issue… that’s actually half of the source of my rage, but somehow I forgot about it when I wrote. now I’m angry all over again.

    as for cell-to-Canada, there is no volume, I just got nailed once when I thought Canada was covered under the Nationwide plan (which is was, or wasn’t, at one time) and decided to chat with a friend for a half-hour on the way home from work. whoops. but they’re worth it.

  4. killer

    boo freaking hoo

  5. Ajay

    Agree on this rant. This is just a reflection of the horrible service from providers here in the US.

    Things that they could easily do to refine their product just aren’t done.

  6. st4rbux

    just this morning, I dialed 1+ before a number I believed might be long distance (cell number for someone who lives about an hour away) — it rang five times and I almost hung up thinking the call wasn’t going through, THEN the automated voice told me that I didn’t need to dial 1 before this number —– THEN JUST CONNECT ME DAMMIT!

    no, instead I had to hang up, look up the guys phone number again on my cell, and dial it again. a complete waste of about 45 seconds of my life.

  7. Tim

    Ok, I can’t begin to express how much I am in agreement with you on this issue. This is one of the many reasons landlines are working their way towards extinction. Further more, why aren’t these piece of crap cordless phones capable of adding a freakin’ 1 in front of a number for me??!!??!!

    Anyone know of a cordless phone that will add a 1 to the caller ID number when I dial back? Please, do tell.

  8. Pingback: no longer dialing 1 « name your fear

  9. JO

    I have a question. Does adding the one apply to cell numbers with 202 also?
    I have recently been texting a guy with a 202 number and not including the 1, i never got a response from him…could this be the problem, he never got the text. wishful thinking…please let me know i this is my mistake or he is really blowing me off.

    • st4rbux

      no, you definitely do not have to dial 1+ when texting. the legacy crap inherent in the voice telephone network has almost no impact on txt/data (now that we’re no longer using POTS; wait, some people somewhere are probably still using POTS… sorry for them.)

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