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Chatham-Kent Deamalgamated by Bell Canada
MapleCityStar - August 17, 2010, 03:14 PM

The new telephone book is out, and it seems the phone company has succeeded in splitting Chatham-Kent apart where petitions and citizens groups have failed.

Traditionally, the telephone directory has listed all Chatham-Kent and surrounding communities in the white pages. While some calls within Chatham-Kent are still considered long distance, at least one could look up a business or residential number no matter where the person happened to reside. All that has changed with the new Yellow Pages.

An investigation of the new phone book reveals only one section in the white pages, listing residential numbers for Chatham. I'm no longer able to look up my doctor's phone number in Wallaceburg, or my dad's neighbour in Erie Beach. If a number doesn't have a Chatham exchange, it's gone.

Business numbers have been extracted from the listings, and are now stuck separately in the back of the book in haphazard sections for other Chatham-Kent communities. You can look up the Chatham-Kent Health Alliance under Chatham, but in Wallaceburg it's under "Hospitals." The entire format is cryptic and difficult to use.

A representative at the Yellow Pages conceded that only Chatham-Kent was affected by the change. The entire metropolis of Mississauga is still served with a single white pages directory, and everything is listed from Port Credit to Streetsville and Clarkson. The change was driven by the Yellow Pages marketing team without any input from stakeholders.

Bell insisted that the new book was designed to better serve residents, and that all of Chatham-Kent and area is included. "Wallaceburg is in another area," according to an information spokesperson.

When asked why the book's cover states "Chatham-Kent and Area" but excludes most of the communities in Chatham-Kent and area, Bell responded that they separated the area by municipality, and seemed unaware that Chatham-Kent is actually a single-tier municipality. They offered to sell me copies of the other 3 directories that cover the rest of Chatham-Kent.

The Bell Yellow Pages group have been receiving and documenting complaints about the change. I offered to boycott the new directory until they republish a properly inclusive book. It won't be the first time Bell was forced to reprint these books, as they bowed to pressure recently after distributing an Ontario book printed only in French.

Considering that Bell has now divided Chatham-Kent into four books, it makes me wonder if they are getting even with us for refusing to rename some Chatham-Kent streets that had names duplicated in four communities. At that time, Bell claimed their 911 system could not differentiate between any Chatham-Kent communities, but their marketing department had no problem circumventing the difficulty.

I did remind Bell that Chatham-Kent is considered to be the top municipality by Monopoly, and that I hoped residents protested the new phone book with the same zeal that put us on the Boardwalk.

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