Consumer Payment Card News

NYNEX Pulls Card Pay Phones

NYNEX announced today (2/7) that it will remove its bright yellow Change Card pay phones — which only accept a special, prepaid telephone card — and replace the majority of them with a state-of-the-art version of the traditional, coin-operated pay phone.

Most of the 800 Change Card phones are situated in Manhattan on city sidewalks.

The others are at the Staten Island Ferry Terminal and at several other indoor and outdoor locations. NYNEX will begin the replacement program next week.

“Although we conducted a variety of marketing and advertising campaigns to inform the public about the NYNEX Change Card(R) phones and to encourage their use, these phones just never caught on with our customers,” said Brian Price, director of marketing and sales for NYNEX’s Public Communications Division.

“New Yorkers are used to carrying coins with them for parking meters, the laundromat and bus fare,” he said. “And we learned that when it comes to making a local call from a NYNEX pay phone, people prefer to use coins rather than the specialized Change Card product, which only worked on the special yellow phones.”

NYNEX will replace the Change Card phones that are on city sidewalks with a new type of coin-operated phone that looks and works like the traditional, coin-operated phone but is much more technologically advanced. The new phones, known as “smart sets,” contain a computer chip that automatically sends out a signal to a central NYNEX location when the phone is not working or needs servicing.

In addition to the Change Card phones, NYNEX will replace all of its other city sidewalk pay phones with “smart sets” this year.

“By knowing automatically when there is a problem with one of our smart sets, we can dispatch a technician right away and get the phone back in service more quickly,” Price said. “This will enable us to provide better service to the public.”

The balance of the Change Card phones will be replaced by the traditional, coin-operated pay phones.

NYNEX will provide full refunds to consumers who have the NYNEX Change Cards. The cards, about the size of a credit card, were sold in denominations of $5, $10 and $20.

Holders of valid Change Cards in good condition may obtain refunds for the unused portion of the cards by going in person to any one of five refund vendors in Manhattan, Brooklyn, the Bronx and Staten Island. NYNEX will also maintain a toll-free number — 1-800-545-EASY — for customers who wish to obtain refunds by mail or who have questions about the refunds or other aspects of the Change Card phones.

NYNEX will inform customers about the refunds and the toll-free number by posting signs at the major locations for Change Card phones and through legal notices in daily newspapers in New York City.

NYNEX installed the Change Card phones on a trial basis in 1991 and then expanded the program in 1994.

Although the Change Card program is being discontinued, NYNEX remains committed to its other telephone card products. They are the NYNEX Calling Card (1-800-54-NYNEX), which customers use and then receive the itemized charges on their monthly telephone bill, and the NYNEX prepaid calling card, which customers use by calling another 800 number. Both cards can be used at any telephone for local as well as long distance calls.

The following vendors will provide refunds for change cards: EGI Check Cashing, 106 Greenwich St.; NY Check Cashing, 20 Beaver St.; Cataldo Newsstand, 360 Adams St., Brooklyn; I & R Payment Center, 416 East 149th St., Bronx; MTW Check Cashing, 202 Bay St., Staten Island.

NYNEX is a global communications and media corporation that provides a full range of services in the northeastern United States and high-growth markets around the world, including the United Kingdom, Thailand, Gibraltar, Greece, Indonesia, the Philippines, Poland, Slovakia and the Czech Republic.

The corporation is a leader in telecommunications, wireless communications, directory publishing and video entertainment and information services. NYNEX is also managing sponsor of FLAG — Fiberoptic Link Around the Globe — the world’s longest undersea fiber optic communications cable.

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