Errors lead Ameritech to reprint part of white pages : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

Errors lead Ameritech to reprint part of white pages

Company blames trouble on software glitch

By Lee Bergquist of the Journal Sentinel staff

Last Updated: Jan. 26, 2000

The government listings in the Milwaukee white pages are so riddled with errors that Ameritech Corp. has agreed to reprint that section and hand-deliver it for free to consumers next month.

The mistakes range from wrong numbers to wrong names, and in one case, a Milwaukee County court commissioner who died five years ago suddenly showed up in the phone book.

Numerous government agencies are reporting mistakes in the newest phone book, but it appears that the largest number of errors are in the City of Milwaukee and Milwaukee County listings.

Ameritech spokeswoman Jody Juckem also said the phone company is "finding more errors than usual" in the entire phone book, which was distributed in November.

But she said the company has not been able to determine the extent of the problem.

Here are some examples from the Milwaukee County and City of Milwaukee listings:

Russell Janowiak is listed as a Milwaukee County court commissioner. Janowiak died in 1995. Circuit Judge Lee Wells is listed as "Wellsllee E." Judge Carl Ashley shows up as "Asly." And County Supervisor Elizabeth Coggs-Jones is not listed at all. There is no listing under "airport" or "Mitchell International Airport," as there was last year. The City of Milwaukee is not listed in large type. (Mequon's ambulance and police departments receive bigger, bolder print on the same page.) There is no listing for the Common Council, although "Aldermen" and "President - Common Council" is listed under "Commission on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault." The city comptroller's office is listed between "street lighting" and "swimming pool backyard permits." Department of City Development offices are listed under "Water Works."

Ameritech is blaming much of the problem on a computer software glitch.

The company updated its software last year to make it Y2K-compliant. But the software had bugs and introduced errors into the system.

Juckem also said mistakes were caused by data-entry errors.

"We are very sorry for the inconvenience that it has caused our customers in Milwaukee," Juckem said.

Directory assistance has received corrected versions of the government listings.

Ameritech said it will hand out 400,000 copies of the government listings beginning on Feb. 17 to residential customers in Milwaukee County.

Business customers and consumers living outside of Milwaukee County who want the corrected versions must call (800) 346-4377, according to Ameritech.

The special treatment for Milwaukee County residents was a concession extracted by city and county officials who griped about the mistakes, and pressured Ameritech to send out a corrected version to the public. The two government units also are not paying for their listings this year.

Wauwatosa officials said that they have had errors two years in a row.

This year, phone numbers for the mayor, city administrator, city clerk and building inspector are not listed.

In Washington County, officials reported numerous errors for the second year in a row.

Officials in both Port Washington and Port Washington Schools also say many of their listings are wrong.

Errors have appeared elsewhere in the book, as well:

Glendale-based Johnson Controls Inc., the largest company in Wisconsin, has only one listing in the new phone book - for a repair center. The phone number for the company's main corporate headquarters, and nine other phone numbers from last year's book, were not listed.

"Certainly it's an inconvenience and certainly there are cost factors of having to re-direct calls. People get frustrated when they are trying to reach someone," said company spokesman Glenn Ponczak.

Numerous YMCA facilities in metropolitan Milwaukee are not listed. The main number incorrectly lists the YMCA in Cedarburg. YMCA personnel have had to change their voice mail greetings to list other YMCA facilities. The Wisconsin Humane Society, which receives up to 6,000 phone calls a week, has two different addresses and two phone numbers listed. Only one of the addresses, 4500 W. Wisconsin Ave. and one of the numbers, (414) ANIMALS - is correct.

"It has been an inconvenience because we were moving when the White Pages were coming out and we took great care having it say what we wanted to say," said Lucy Jansen, operations director for the Humane Society. "We were really disappointed to see this."

The Humane Society reviewed a proof of the correct listing before the book went to press, but Ameritech still got it wrong, Jansen said.

-- Homer Beanfang (, January 27, 2000


They had a telephone book glitch last year
also. Was that Denver? That one had the first
part of the listings missing.

-- spider (, January 27, 2000.

wow! Incredible example of y2k issue!

-- Carl Jenkins (, January 27, 2000.

I got a large envelope from GTE this week with correction pages in it. It seems that due to a software problem (that's what they wrote) four pages of government agencies were left out of the phone book.

-- Powder (, January 27, 2000.


What do you mean by great example?? Simply that it has the strongest innuendo? Can you tell tell me exactly, in technical terms, how a date field issue caused this?? I know the problems with imported data, but I cannot see the connection. Also, If this is the most enthusiastic example, if indeed it is independently verified as y2k, of a problem, than I feel very comfortable with the prospects of my lifestyle being unaffected DIRECTLY by the computer problem of Y2K. Carl, again I appreciate all the digging you do, but this example is hardly worth noting. I am sorry.

-- futureshock (, January 27, 2000.

Corrupt Database. There is no way we can know the exact cause, it may be due to incorrect format of imported data, merging of dissimilar data base formats, etc. Who knows, but the database is definely screwed! They had better have back-ups.

-- Y2kObserver (, January 27, 2000.

The retrieval of obsolete name records could be a date problem, but that doesn't explain the botched spelling of names. That's corrupted data.

-- Y2kObserver (, January 27, 2000.

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