So long, 301, been nice phoning you C&P lays down law on new 410 code

October 31, 1992|By Leslie Cauley | Leslie Cauley,Staff Writer

Time's up.

If you're one of those die-hard dialers still using the 301 area code despite the fact that half the state officially moved into the 410 area code a year ago, the game is up.

Starting at midnight tonight, everybody must use the proper area code.

Misdialers will hear that familiar -- and oh-so-irritating -- screech that precedes wrong or discontinued numbers. That will be followed by a recording that instructs callers to check the area code and dial again. (In case you're stumped, recordings will also offer the correct area code. After that, you're on your own.)

Chesapeake & Potomac Telephone Co. announced the area code change last fall and gave consumers a year to catch on. The company has been running advertisements on local radio stations, taking out print ads in newspapers, adding the area code to numbers given out by information and stuffing monthly bills with inserts that remind customers of the Nov. 1 deadline. In the meantime, dialing either 301 or 410 for the new code area worked.

But by C&P's own estimates, there are still quite a few 301 non-converts still out there.

As of Tuesday, about 30 percent of dialers statewide were still using the wrong, old area codes.

The numbers were much the same for just Baltimore. According to C&P, 34 percent of callers in the Charles Street area of downtown Baltimore were using the wrong area code Tuesday. Callers in the Dundalk and Wolfe Street areas did slightly better, with 28 percent and 33 percent of callers, respectively, using the wrong area codes.

Other parts did worse -- much worse. A full 40 percent of callers in one part of the state were using the wrong area code Tuesday.

C&P declined to name the delinquent area, saying it didn't want to risk offending customers there. "This was not a contest," said Dave Pacholczyk, a C&P spokesman.

And who won the non-contest contest for the best score? Silver Spring, where callers last Tuesday dialed the correct area code 96 percent of the time.

Mr. Pacholczyk said correct numbers have been improving by about 1 percentage point a week, meaning 71 percent of callers statewide should be using the correct area code by tonight.

And what about the rest?

"They," quipped Mr. Pacholczyk, "will begin to hear some recordings."

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