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Survey asks phone bill preference

March 30, 1999|By RICHARD F. BELISLE, Waynesboro

WAYNESBORO, Pa. - Sprint's 14,000 Waynesboro-area telephone customers are being asked to decide in the next few weeks if they want to pay a little more in their monthly phone bill in exchange for toll-free dialing to the Chambersburg, Pa., area.

The bill of an average residential customer in Waynesboro would go from $9.33 a month for basic service to $10.90, a jump of $1.57, said Sprint spokeswoman Yvonne Butts-Mitchell.

Customers whose telephone numbers begin with 762-, 765- and 749- are eligible to vote for the expanded service, Butts-Mitchell said.

She said ballots have been sent to Waynesboro area customers. They have until April 22 to mark them and mail them back. Postage is prepaid. "It's important that customers fill out the ballots and send them in, even if they don't want the new service," Butts-Mitchell said.

The ballots are being returned to the Pennsylvania Public Service Commission, which is conducting the poll. At least half of the phone company's Waynesboro-area customers must respond before the PUC will count the ballots. A simple majority of those counted will put the new service into effect, Butts-Mitchell said.

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If approved, Waynesboro area customers will be able to call toll free the following Chambersburg area exchanges: 377-, 261-, 262-, 263-, 264-, 276-, 709-, 360-, 404-, 816-, 860- and 977-.

Butts-Mitchell said each customer should check their phone bills to see if they make enough calls to the Chambersburg area to justify the increase.

Most Franklin County towns have free calling to Chambersburg, the Franklin County seat, Butts-Mitchell said. Customers in the Greencastle, Pa., and Mercersburg, Pa., areas have toll-free dialing to Chambersburg, she said.

Blue Ridge Summit does not have and probably won't be offered the toll-free service, Butts-Mitchell said.

She said studies are conducted on telephone traffic every two years to determine if changes in the service should be made. The Waynesboro survey was triggered by calling patterns revealed in recent traffic surveys, she said. The survey affects residential and commercial customers.

The PUC will review the results and determine if enough customers have requested the change within three weeks of the April 22 deadline, Butts-Mitchell said. The telephone company has 120 days to implement the change.

If Waynesboro area customers decline the service, another poll could be conducted in two years, she said.

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