SAN DIEGO - Phone Books Lists More 'Unlisted' Users...Goof Repeated : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread

[Fair Use: For Educational and Research Purposes Only]

Phone books list more 'unlisted' users

Month-ago goof repeated, affecting 23 in N. County

By Mike Drummond UNION-TRIBUNE STAFF WRITER June 23, 2000

SAN DIEGO -- Cox Communications acknowledged yesterday that the phone numbers -- and perhaps addresses -- of 23 "unlisted" customers in North County will appear in new phone directories -- an embarrassing replay of last month's snafu.

Cox previously said North County was not affected by the "software error" that led to 11,400 unlisted names, numbers and in many cases addresses appearing in this year's directories.

This time, Cox, which provided the numbers to Pacific Bell, said "human error" resulted in the 23 unlisted customers showing up in the books.

Dan Novak, Cox vice president for programming and communications, said the company simply failed to flag the 23 unlisted names among its estimated 1,400 customers in North County -- despite the stinging public relations, legal and financial debacles created with its misstep last month.

PacBell began distribution of the North County directory June 8 and halted delivery June 15 -- six weeks after Cox discovered it goofed with directories targeting San Diego metro and other areas.

About 69,000 of the 235,000 North County books have been delivered, PacBell said. Delivery will resume once Cox contacts all affected customers and state regulators give the OK.

Cox said it has contacted 22 of the 23 customers affected, and so far none has voiced the type of outcry heard from scores of those in South and East County. In those communities, all sorts of people -- from undercover police officers to battered women -- said they feared for their safety and that of their families.

The 23rd customer is believed to be out of town and Cox has been unable to make contact, Novak said.

In any case, this 23rd person suddenly wields considerable power.

Cox already has agreed to pay a reported $3.2 million to help retrieve more than 440,000 books and print and distribute new ones. It also has paid to relocate at least one aggrieved customer.

In other cases, Cox reportedly has cut monetary deals that go well beyond its initial offer: a free change of number or a package of "privacy" services, according to an attorney who has filed a class-action suit against Cox and PacBell.

If this 23rd person were a judge, an undercover cop or an abused woman fearful of discovery, Cox conceivably could have to move that person and perhaps face additional costs of retrieving and reprinting North County directories.

It's a prospect Novak declined to discuss.

When asked about such a scenario, Novak said, "Oh, don't take me there."

PacBell printed 1.3 million copies of the San Diego White Pages and voluntarily suspended delivery of the books May 12.

But more than 440,000 copies already had been distributed, primarily in eastern and southern San Diego County. PacBell also sold this year's directory information to 10 third-party sources.

The fiasco triggered thousands of complaints, numerous threats of legal action from police officers and a class-action suit from others who said their privacy and safety were compromised.

PacBell unexpectedly resumed delivering the tainted White Pages, apparently after talks with Cox faltered over the costs of retrieving, reprinting and redistributing the books.

Cox then sought an order from state regulators to prohibit PacBell from delivering more of the directories.

The state Public Utilities Commission approved that request. Its president, Loretta Lynch, urged Cox and PacBell to work together with the goal of recovering all the tainted directories and printing a revised version.

PacBell said it expects to resume delivery of the San Diego White Pages in August.

-- (, June 24, 2000


I think its right

-- Belinda Romo (, January 21, 2002.

Moderation questions? read the FAQ