C&P; tests pay phone message plan 10,000 area sites try out new service


For anyone who's ever tried to make a quick call from a pay phone -- only to hear a busy signal at the other end -- Chesapeake & Potomac Telephone Co. has a solution: Message Express.

Message Express, developed by US Advanced Network of Norcross, Ga., permits callers to leave a message up to one minute long and have it delivered when the line is free. C&P; has chosen Baltimore as a site to test the new call-delivery service, which is available through 10,000 C&P; pay phones in the metropolitan area, including ones at Baltimore-Washington International Airport.

To use the service, callers dial the 800-number for Message Express that is posted on pay phones, then listen for instructions. Callers are told to enter the area code and number where they want a message delivered and to dial a calling or credit card number for billing purposes. Message Express also accepts Visa and American Express.

Long distance messages, limited to the continental United States, cost $1.75 each. Messages to local numbers cost 75 cents each.

Bell Atlantic Corp., C&P;'s parent, has limited the message trial to greater Baltimore. Jeanine Smetana, a C&P; spokeswoman in Baltimore, said that the call-delivery service was started in late June and will be assessed at the end of the year, when Bell Atlantic may decide to offer it in other cities in its territory.

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