ICB Toll Free (800/888) News by: Judith Oppenheimer, President, ICB Toll Free (800/888) News
Saturday February 08 1997 at 09:19:49 PM EST

Out of Sight, Out of Mind

In 1995, 800 user lobbying efforts resulted in ground-breaking FCC recognition of 800 brand and trademark considerations. It's 1997. Do users care less? Do consumers deserve less?

New York, N.Y. U.S. - Minutes of the October '96 OBF/SNAC, one of the key industry forums where toll-free product and service features are designed, reveal that in the absence of a strong user voice, carriers can be counted on to conduct "business as usual." Their business, that is, not their customers¹ or the public¹s, who's interests they are supposed to be representing.

In the wake of palpable customer consensus and insistence on 800 brand protection - and under those customers' watchful eyes - prominent carriers presented arguments for replication to the FCC in 1995. The grounds for those arguments have not changed, nor the customers¹ desires to protect their 800 brands.

But the ³palpable customer consensus and insistence on 800 brand protection,² so rigorous in R.95, is missing. So are the watchful eyes. The result?

This past October, 1996, just one year after the public show of support for replication, the carriers, sequestered behind closed doors, have reversed themselves. As part of Issue 1300: 877 Implementation, the SNAC (SMS Number Administration Committee, comprised of - who else? - carriers), quietly reached it¹s own consensus, to recommend NO REPLICATION to the FCC when 877 rolls out.

We¹re still waiting for the FCC¹s ruling on replication for 888, from the 1995 NPRM. This new telco industry stand against replication should serve as a wake-up call to all marketers: those who have expressed a proprietary or reliance interest in their 800 numbers, and certainly those marketers for whom 888 replication out of the set-aside pool, and continued grand fathering in toll-free, is no less imperative now than it was two years ago.

Author/Correspondent's Profile: Judith Oppenheimer, President, ICB Toll Free (800/888) News

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