Directory assistance reps not based in United States
Question: There’s something different happening with Hawaiian Telcom’s directory assistance. Are the agents based in Hawaii anymore?
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Question: There’s something different happening with Hawaiian Telcom’s directory assistance. Are the agents based in Hawaii anymore? Or even in the United States? Where are they based? In three recent calls I have gotten no help. When they answer, they ask for the city and the state, and they are unfamiliar with Hawaii. For example, recently I asked for a number in Kaneohe, and they said, “Is that in Honolulu?” What’s going on? Does it have something to do with Cincinnati Bell taking over? I have had a stroke and I can’t read or really even hold the phone book anymore. I have to use directory assistance.
Answer: No, customer-service agents who answer your calls to 411 are not based in the United States. They haven’t been for years, but Hawaiian Telcom did recently switch to a new vendor, said spokeswoman Ann Nishida Fry. Here’s her full response:
“We sincerely apologize to your reader for his experience. Like many communications companies throughout the nation, Hawaiian Telcom has worked with a partner that specializes in Directory Assistance to provide this service to our customers. We have successfully operated this way for more than 10 years and are in the process of transitioning from a Saipan-based company to a new partner based in Canada. This was a business decision unrelated to our proposed merger with Cincinnati Bell. There have been a few bumps along the way and we continue to share feedback and work closely with our new partner to smooth out issues and ensure a positive customer experience.”
As for the merger, it is expected to be finalized shortly after a Thursday deadline for Hawaiian Telcom shareholders to elect to receive cash, Cincinnati Bell stock or a combination of both, according to a news release. Hawaiian Tel stockholders and the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission have approved the deal.
Q: In Friday’s column you mentioned that, though not illegal, laminating a Social Security card “prevents detection of security features in the card.” I have my original SS card, which is well over 55 years old. Does it have those security features? What are those security features? Should I go in for a replacement card? Soon after receiving my SS card and signing it, I self-laminated it, then read that I shouldn’t have done that.
A: No, your card does not have the security features, but there’s no need for you to replace it, since you have been using it for decades without a problem.
Security features were introduced 35 years ago to comply with a then-new federal law requiring Social Security cards to be impossible to counterfeit, “to the maximum extent practicable,” according to the Social Security Administration’s website.
The law applies to original and replacement cards issued after Oct. 31, 1983. Cards issued before that date remain valid.
Each card issued since that date includes one or more security features designed to discourage counterfeiting, according to the website. Security features evolve as new technology becomes available, which is why cards of different eras have different features.
The possibilities include a tamper-proof background, color-shifting ink, engraved printing in specific areas, a latent image visible only at specific angles, a red fluorescent alphanumeric code on the back of the card, engraved micro-text in the signature line that is legible only when magnified, colorful discs randomly placed on the front and back of the card, a background pattern discernible only when the card is photocopied, as well as other features, according to the website.
As previously explained, lamination interferes with the verification of some of those security features, which is why the SSA discourages the practice.
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