Telephones

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Telephones

The country code for the United States is 1. The area code for Memphis is 901.

All U.S. telephone numbers consist of 10 digits—the three-digit area code, followed by a seven-digit local number. If you're calling a number from another area-code region, dial "1" then all 10 digits. If you're calling from a distance but within the same area code, dial "1" then the last seven digits. For calls within the same local calling area, just dial the seven-digit number. A map of U.S. area codes is printed in the front of most local telephone directories.

Four special prefixes, "800," "888," "877," and "900," are not area codes but indicators of particular kinds of service. "800," "888," and "877" numbers can be dialed free from anywhere in the country—usually they are prepaid commercial lines that make it easier for consumers to obtain information, products, or services. The "900" numbers charge you for making the call and generally offer some kind of entertainment, such as horoscope readings, sports scores, or sexually suggestive conversations. These services can be very expensive, so know what you're getting into before you dial a "900" number.

Directory & Operator Information

For assistance from an operator, dial "0". To get a local or national telephone number, dial 411; in a few places it is necessary to dial 555-1212. If you want to charge a long-distance call to the person you're calling, call collect by dialing "0" instead of "1" before the 10-digit number, and an operator will come on the line to assist you (the party you're calling, however, has the right to refuse the call).

International Calls

International calls can be direct-dialed from most phones; dial 011, followed by the country code and then the local number (the front pages of many local telephone directories include a list of overseas country codes). To have an operator assist you, dial "0" and ask for the overseas operator. The country code for Australia is 61; New Zealand, 64; and the United Kingdom, 44. To reach Canada, dial 1 + area code + number.

Long-Distance Calls

Competitive long-distance carriers make calling within the United States relatively convenient and let you avoid hotel surcharges. By dialing an 800 number, you can get connected to the long-distance company of your choice.

For details, contact AT&T, 800/225-5288.

MCI, or 800/888-8000.

Sprint. 800/366-2255.

Public Phones

The most common pay phone in operation today is the coin-operated type. To use one, pick up the receiver, deposit your money (the minimum amount is posted on the machine), and then dial the number. An automated message will alert you to deposit more money, if needed.

Telephone-card phones, so popular elsewhere in the world, are becoming increasingly common. Grocery stores, newsstands, and other establishments sell the disposable phone cards, available in varying amounts from $5 and up. To activate the card, dial the code number and follow the instructions printed on the card.

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