May 1, 1998

California Public Utilities Committee
Consumer Affairs Branch
505 Van Ness Ave.
San Francisco CA 94102

Subject: Three Way Calling Two Second Rule

Dear CPUC, I want to register my opposition to Pacific Bell's implementation of 3-way calling. Lately I noticed that pushing the Flash button on my cordless phone caused my phone to ring a few seconds later. Out of the corner of my ear I heard a radio report on complaints about people being billed for use of a feature that was too easy to activate. When I received my bill this month, I found a paragraph about the Two-Second Rule. I was outraged!

As the Director of Product Development at a high tech startup, I was aghast that a publicly regulated company would be allowed to implement such an obviously flawed idea. Let me explain my objections:

1. A long standing pattern of usage has been established whereby people hang up for less than two seconds. I believe this is the pattern for call waiting (I don't have call waiting so I'm not certain).

2. This pattern is so well established that my Sony phone has a Flash feature which simulates a brief hang up.

3. If this service has real value to a number of people, why not have its default setting be OFF, and have people call to have it turned on? Certainly this seems easier than giving everyone a feature they don't need, and may not understand (after all, they never requested it). In fact, if one were a cynic, one might believe that it was implemented this way knowing that few would notice, or if they noticed, bother to dispute a few extra cents on each bill. Why not a “star-69” combination for example?

4. I've been using a phone for a good 30 years. I'm in the electronics business. I never heard of the Two-Second Rule. Sounds like language out of Brave New World, placing the onus on us to follow the rules no matter how half baked or fresh baked they are.

I plan to call Pacific Bell and have them disable this service, but think it is uncalled for that I have to do this. This feature should never have been allowed to be implemented this way. I urge the CPUC to have Pacific Bell re-implement it as an opt-in system, and further ask the CPUC to require all new features and services to be opt-in unless compelling reasons for opt-out are shown.


cc: Senator Barbara Boxer Senator Diane Feinstein, Pacific Bell Editor, San Jose Mercury News