Ten Digit Dialing and a Waste of Paper

Did you get one of these? It’s a flyer, included with your phone bill explaining that, as of September 8, the rest of BC (and Alberta) is switching to ten digit dialing:

Vancouver, 7-Aug-08

This was actually news to me–I thought the whole province had already made the move. Apparently not. That’s kind of amusing, actually, because I’ve been dialing ten digits in Victoria since I got there. I guess I could have enjoyed a final six months of seven digits. Think of the energy I could have saved.

In any case, I thought it was odd and a little wasteful that they send these to every phone bill recipient in the province. Surely the vast majority of people living in the Lower Mainland, already accustomed to the ten numbers, would:

  • Out of habit, dial ten numbers, wherever they happened to be in the province.
  • Learn about the change through other means. I imagine the (worryingly named) Telecommunications Alliance is saturating marketing channels with the news

There’s about 4.1 million people living in the province, and 2.5 million of them are already dialing ten digits. Did the aforementioned Alliance really need to send printed matter to the latter group? Assuming 2.3 people per household, and that most of them have phones and still received paper bills, that’s probably a million pieces of paper, isn’t it? That’s not to mention the resources required to assemble, print and distribute just that one piece of mail.

I guess I’m being rather whingy, but it seemed like a small (or not so small) example of needless waste.


  1. Agreed. Particularly considering there’s been a message on the phone telling you to use 10 digits whenever you only dial 7 for a few months now. (At least that was my experience in Campbell River when I was there earlier in the summer).

    I’m sure this was the telco alliance’s idea of putting a positive spin on it and it gave the graphic design dept something to do.

  2. In Alberta, they went with a little message on the phone, telling you to use ten digits. I never saw any paper information telling me that I had to switch.

  3. I agree with the waste of paper.
    At least your phone company is trying to communicate with you. We had the little message when we went to 10-digit dialing a couple of years ago (in Ontario).
    It would have been nice if Bell had made an effort to communicate with its loyal costumers regarding their new text messaging fees. I did not find out until yesterday when I read something on the CBC site.
    Though others I talked to said they had heard about it.
    I guess if the world was perfect we would have nothing to complain about.

  4. You still get paper bills mailed to you? Why? Seems like a straightforward way to pre-empt the problem. After all, they only sent this notice once – they send you a paper bill every month.

  5. Brendon: Thanks for that. We don’t receive paper bills for any monthly expense if we can avoid it. I was at someone else’s home when I saw this.

  6. My big question is why the Telus 2008-2009 Victoria phone book is printed with 7 digits instead of 10? They have been planning this for a long time. The phone book would be a nice reminder to use 10 digits. I’ve posted about this on my site ( http://www.muddylaces.ca/dialing_implemented )

    Yes I still use a phone book. It is actually faster than opening the laptop and doing the search.

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