Northern New York Newspapers
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Wed., Oct. 7
Serving the communities of Jefferson, St. Lawrence and Lewis counties, New York
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Coin phones often better than cellphones


Perry White’s Dec. 26 article, “Rodman payphone a silent testimony to the loss of a once-frequent object,” caught my eye.

I was on Tug Hill needing to call. I had noted the Rodman coin phone, so I rolled by.

Yes, it works. Or rather, it did as of Oct. 6, 2011, at 7:51 p.m.

I phoned home. And yes, that is the real date and time; I felt obliged to preserve what might be the last time I ever successfully used a coin phone for inclusion in my memoirs. Its number is unreadable as Perry found, but it displayed 232-9961 on our home’s Caller ID.

Coin telephones have value, perhaps especially in rural America. I have AT&T and Verizon cellphones available.

But try to place a call with either from Worth, or parts of the Tug, or, at times, in portions of the town of Adams. Coin telephones afford greater privacy. On average, their voice fidelity and reliability beat a cellphone.

Two outdoor coin-operated telephones are literally on Frontier’s Pulaski office premises. Upon first attempted use in early 2010, neither presented a dial tone even if you fed it coins.

Although both still lack legible instructions, today both present a dial tone. However, the more easterly phone does not at any time allow the insertion of U.S. quarters.

The westerly telephone accepts U.S. quarters. But absent legible instructions, one does not know whether to dial first or insert coin(s) first. Trying either way, the phone responds with an immediate error message that lacks specificity thereby leaving the user hamstrung.

Other companies’ working coin telephones, with both numbers and legible, functional user instructions posted, exist in South Jeff. One might reasonably surmise that Frontier’s purpose is not to provide working coin telephones but rather to meet in name only a tariff requirement it deems antithetical to its business plan.

Both Frontier Pulaski phones are marked to indicate no incoming calls. Thus their phone numbers are not displayed. Even if one knew the inoperable phones’ numbers, lacking a service number to call, they go unreported.

Telephone companies formerly refunded coin telephone losses if you courteously supply the miscreant’s full number. But finding the number to call in 2010 or anytime since proved an insuperable obstacle. Hence, I was robbed.

Accordingly, telecommunication companies should be mandated to pass a comprehensive course in ethics. It makes cents. And sense.

Francis K. Williams


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