Last year, Alan Masarek made news as he left Google to become Vonage’s new CEO.
Honolulu, HI, Feb. 15, 1996 (DLD DIGEST) -- A quiet, almost secret "upgrade" of privately-owned payphones is sweeping the country. The new pay phones have dial pads with no letters along side the numbers. The reason for the "upgrade" is to prevent consumers from bypassing the payphone owner’s expensive and highly profitable long distance carrier. The letterless dial pads make it virtually impossible for the consumer to call easy-to-remember numbers like, 1-800-CALL-ATT and 1-800-COLLECT. "I became outraged when I saw the arrogant tone of the ads for letterless dial pads in industry magazines," stated Ken Wells, owner of Honolulu-based TCCG. "Payphone owners have raised the stakes in this game and we are taking the fight right to them," Wells continued. "I knew there was something our company could do to help the consumer with this problem." According to Wells, "Our design staff developed the Alpha-Back™ product quite literally overnight." Wells has 18 years communications experience and serves as Senior Telecommunications Engineer at TCCG. Why is a letterless dial pad so appealing to payphone owners and so detrimental to consumers? Because most privately-owned payphones use alternate operator service (AOS) providers which often charge many times more than the "Big Three" carriers for long distance calls. The payphone owner, who gets a cut of the AOS revenue, gets nothing when a consumer dials a bypass number, like 1-800-CALL-ATT. Savvy consumers want to bypass the AOS firm for their preferred long distance carrier. Without letters on the dial pad, dialing a vanity bypass telephone number is next to impossible. Thanks to TCCG’s new product however, the consumer who uses a letterless payphone is once again in charge. The size of a standard business card, Alpha-Back™, allows callers to dial vanity telephone numbers like 1-800-CALL-ATT and 1-800-COLLECT at pay phones without letters on the dial pad. Alpha-Back™ has a graphic representation of a standard dial pad with the letters included below the numbers. Alpha-Back™ is available, in both generic and custom formats, directly from TCCG. The product can be customized with a business name or logo on the front and dialing instructions on the back, if desired. Samples of Alpha-Back™ can be obtained for $1.00 and an SASE from TCCG at 1142 Auahi Street, Suite 2014, Honolulu, HI 96814. Ken Wells and TCCG can be reached at 1-800-KEN-OAHU. That’s 1-800-536-6248, just in case the call is made from an "upgraded" pay phone.