Bell Atlantic asks some customers to settle up - by Jan. 1900 : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

December 23, 1999


Bell Atlantic asks some customers to settle up - by Jan. 1900

The phone company sent out more than 300 bills with the wrong payment-due date, courtesy of the Y2K bug. It has fixed the problem.


Several hundred Bell Atlantic customers will be forgiven if they pay their latest phone bill a bit after the due date - 100 years after it, to be exact.

In the latest bit of evidence that the Y2K computer bug is alive despite years of efforts to eradicate it, the phone company sent out more than 300 bills this month to business customers instructing them to "Please pay by Jan. 4, 1900."

"I'm pleased to say that there were only 308 customers affected by this," a Bell Atlantic spokeswoman, Sharon Shaffer, said. All were smaller telephone companies that purchase Bell Atlantic services wholesale and resell them as part of their own service packages.

Shaffer said that Bell Atlantic had fixed the glitch by yesterday, having been alerted to it by one of the customers.

"These things do crop up, but they're so minor that as soon as they're brought to our attention, we're able to put a quick fix on them. That's what happened yesterday," Shaffer said.

It was not the first such glitch for Bell Atlantic. Earlier this month, about 900 New York businesses were sent statements that also included a 1900 date instead of 2000.

Similar glitches have shown up around the country in recent months, even as polls have shown that people are less and less concerned about the Y2K bug, which results from computer programming that erroneously recognizes the year 2000 as 1900. Among them:

From 400 to 500 Philadelphia residents were summoned to appear for jury duty in January 1900 rather than next month.

Maine state officials sent out 2,000 titles for year-2000 vehicles that listed them as antique "horseless carriages" - a designation the state uses for vehicles produced before 1916.

Wells Fargo Co. sent out 13,000 renewal notices saying that certificates of deposit were due to expire in 1900, rather than next year.

Bell Atlantic is not worried about major problems related to the turn of the calendar, Shaffer said. "We've been working on Y2K initiatives for almost five years now, to the tune of over $400 million," she said.

Bell Atlantic's confidence rests on more than the thoroughness of its programmers, Shaffer said. The company plans to have 4,500 extra staffers on duty Jan. 1, about 30 percent more than on a usual New Year's Day, to watch for glitches in its network of 42 million lines from Virginia to Maine.

Whatever its success at finding and repairing problematic computer code, the nation's Y2K planning has clearly helped lessen public anxiety about the issue. According to a Gallup poll released yesterday, conducted in partnership with the National Science Foundation and USA Today, fewer Americans are fearful about how the computer problem will affect them.

Among more than 1,000 adults surveyed last week, only 7 percent - down from 12 percent last month - expected major consequences from the Y2K bug. And 55 percent - up from 15 percent a year ago - expected Y2K computer problems to last "only a few days around Jan. 1, 2000."

Still, computer scientists say to expect some unanticipated consequences from programs that perform time-sensitive calculations and are confused by the rollover, and to hope that preparations have averted at least the worst of them.

"Look at NASA. They're making sure the shuttle is going to come down before Jan. 1, because NASA has a lot of systems that are time-dependent," said John J. Helferty, chairman of electrical and computer engineering at Temple University.

Helferty said that many of the worst fears of Y2K are overblown, at least in the United States, with some of the most dire warnings coming from people who are trying to make money.

"Could there be big problems? The answer is yes," said Helferty, who added, "I honestly do not expect big problems."

Helferty's own preparations, and his advice to others, center on financial records. "Personally I keep a very close eye on my electronic transactions and my investments."

His advice: "Make sure you have a paper trail, so that if you do get an erroneous bill, you can prove that it's erroneous."

-- Homer Beanfang (, December 23, 1999


"I'm pleased to say that there were only 308 customers affected by this..."

Note: Not 307. Not 309. 308. How can they be so damned specific about this, and so clueless to allow it in the first place? I'll answer that: Sloppy. Watch for more of the same.

-- I'm Here, I'm There (I'm Everywhere@so.beware), December 23, 1999.

Maybe "100% compliant" means "100% sure how much we're screwed"

-- Servant (, December 23, 1999.

Here is the "BITR" senario. Problem is the rollover is just around the corner. Brace yourselves for impact..........!

-- kevin (, December 23, 1999.

Maybe "100% compliant" means "100% sure how much we're screwed"

No, "100% compliant" is really an anagram, as reactions are likely to be "100% complaint"!

-- Slobby Don (, December 23, 1999.

Bold Off

-- Slobby Don (, December 23, 1999.

Nested Bold Off

-- Slobby Don (, December 23, 1999.

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