New York, NY USA - ICB TOLL FREE NEWS Are you an MCI-WorldCom customer, and confused as to how the company's bankruptcy affects YOU. First of all, please take this bit of free, expert advice... DON'T PANIC!!!
Whether you are a customer of MCI, WorldCom, The Neighborhood, TeleCom*USA, 1010220, 1-800-COLLECT or any of the other 70+ names that WorldCom has done business under since its inception, it is highly unlikely that you will experience any disruption in service.
Although this is the largest bankruptcy in U.S. history, and there is little to compare the situation to in terms of size, the chances of any WorldCom customer experiencing loss of service are slim to none, due to legal and regulatory laws put in place by federal authorities to prevent any type of nationwide communications "meltdown".
Just look at the Enron situation. They were one of the largest power companies in the United States when they declared Bankruptcy. Did anyone's lights go out as a result? Of course not. In fact, WorldCom's Federal Chapter 11 filing should actually protect its customers from possible service disruption, due to the company's shaky financial position.
First off, how do you know if you are a customer of MCI, WorldCom, its subsidiaries or any of the numerous resellers that utilize WorldCom's service? It's easy. Just dial (toll-free) 1-700-555-4141. You will hear a recording telling you the name of your long distance carrier. If the recording says MCI, WorldCom or something similar, you are on MCI's network. If not, you are on a carrier or reseller that is independent of MCI for its service.
Of course, all carriers (yes, even AT&T) use the networks of other carriers at one point or another. No carrier is capable of carrying all of its own calls to everywhere else in the world without interfacing with another phone company at some point. So, although you may be with a completely independent carrier, it is entirely likely (if not certain) that they utilize WorldCom's network to carry at least some of their calls.
What safeguards are in place to protect you from having your service interrupted? Well, for starters, WorldCom's actions in Federal Bankruptcy Court make it illegal for the company's vendors to disconnect them for non-payment, in the event that WorldCom can't pay their bills. Until the Bankruptcy Judge says so, none of the company's vendors can "pull the plug" on them. Period. There would certainly be plenty of warning in the event that the Judge changes his mind.
Additionally, the Federal Communications Commission and numerous state regulatory authorities make it illegal for WorldCom to simply disconnect everyone's service without plenty of advance notice. In the unlikely event that WorldCom goes completely out-of-business (Chapter 7 - complete asset liquidation), you will be notified by mail of any impending loss of service, and will have more than enough time to find a different provider.
Even if WorldCom does "go under", the chances of anyone losing access to long distance service are mighty slim. That's because there are numerous companies that would swoop-in to buy the company's "customer base" from the Bankruptcy Court. In this event, your account would be "sold" to a different company, which would have absolutely no incentive to disconnect you or lose you as a customer. Rates would likely remain the same, if not improve.
So, what should I do? Bottom line... Don't panic! You are NOT going to have your service interrupted. If we simply wanted to take advantage of this situation, we would urge all WorldCom customers to flock to our list of alternative Toll Free Programs and Long Distance Programs, and dump their current service. We're sure that many, many others will attempt to scare you into switching your service. We won't BS you though. WorldCom's service is not going anywhere, at least no time soon, and unless you are shopping for a better rate (including low cost fuller-featured toll free) anyway, we would advise you to stay put.
Of course, most of MCI's long distance plans are over priced anyway, when you factor-in their monthly service charges. So, if it takes a scare like this to make you start comparing rates, go right ahead. We would not advise making any hasty decisions out of fear of losing service though.
Do I need a Back-Up Plan? Probably not. However, if the impossible does happen and your MCI service is not working, there are some alternatives. First off, one of them is NOT dialing 1010220! That program is run by MCI itself, under the Telecom*USA brand name. If the WorldCom network "goes dark", so will 1010220.
This does not mean that there are not plenty of other choices for "dial-around" or alternative access though. Probably the easiest of alternatives are the many pre-paid calling cards that are available at local convenience stores. Of course, some of them use the MCI network as well.
For back-up use, you may want to consider one of Cognigen’s programs (yes, we get paid a commission on these services). They have several dial-around programs that can be accessed via a toll-free number, and have some pretty decent rates, especially on international calls.
reprinted with permission from Discount Long Distance Digest.
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Contact: Judith Oppenheimer
Author/Correspondent's Profile: Judith Oppenheimer, Publisher, ICB Toll Free (800/888) & Domain Name News