Former Oftel director Don Cruickshank’s 1995 statement that ’you
will not have to change your number again in your lifetime’ proved to be
a hollow promise as the telephone industry watchdog shouldered the blame
for mis-communicating the new area code changes. A few articles, notably
in the Sunday Express (23/4), erroneously pointed the finger at BT for
making the decision to change numbers, but current Oftel chief David
Edmonds, ’with the greatest respect’, blamed Londoners for the bank
holiday confusion by not reading the publicity material.
Despite having a two-year period to inform phone users, Oftel admitted
that the PR campaign underlying the pounds 20 million ad campaign had
’made people aware of their new numbers...but not really managed to
explain the bigger picture’. Whether Oftel timed the change over the
Easter weekend to minimise impact or to reduce criticism, they should
now be in a position to take advantage of the window of opportunity
before the next changes - to mobile phones and pagers in April 2001.
Analysis and commentary by Echo Research.
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