Long 
Distance Phone Rates Comparison - ABTolls

October 24, 2014

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Changing Long Distance Companies
What to Expect

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Information on "slamming" (unauthorized switching of your long distance)

What happens when I change my long distance company? Back To Top 

Since deregulation consumers have the ability to choose their "Dial-1" or primary interxchange carrier (PIC). However the process of changing can be confusing. Here we outline the process so you can better understand what is happening when you change your carrier.

  1. Your local telephone company maintains the wires that run into your home or business, however they do not have to carry your long distance phone calls. Their switches will automatically route your direct-dialed, long distance calls to the carrier of your choice. The carrier that carries your direct-dialed, long distance calls is named the "pre-subscribed carrier" or primary interxchange carrier (PIC) and sometimes referred to as the "PICed" carrier.

  2. If after comparing long distance rates you choose to change your pre-subscribed carrier a few things need to happen before your can enjoy the new phone service.

  3. You must initiate a service order with your new carrier using whatever mechanism they have to place an order. This can include web sign-ups, a phone call to their customer service, signing a contract, etc. Each carrier and rate plan varies in the method used to create accounts.

  4. It is important to initiate an order with your new carrier prior to stopping your old service. If you do not, you may get stranded with no pre-subscribed carrier or with a very high "casual caller rate."

  5. In many states long distance companies are required to submit your change request to a "third party verification service" to verify that you indeed have chosen to switch long distance companies. This frequently takes the form of an automated phone call that restates the terms of your new service and asks you to verify that you have chosen it and want to be switched. In those states that require third party verification it is impossible for your carrier to switch your service until you have verified your request, or submitted a written request to be switched.

  6. Once you have verified your switching request, your new carrier should give you the procedure for successfully switching your service. Some carriers will give you a "PIC" code to give your local phone company. Others will "handle the switch" for you and communicate the new "PIC" code to your local phone company for you. In either case your service will not be switched until your local phone company updates its switch to re-route the calls to the new carrier using the new carrier's "PIC" code. Normally it is easiest to allow the carrier to follow its normal procedures, as deviating from their normal process can create delays, or possibly having calls routed to the carrier prior to its computers being ready to accept your calls.

  7. Normal processing time for switching varies from 1-10 business days depending on a number of factors including the amount of time it takes your new carrier to create an account and the amount of time it takes your local phone company to update the "PIC" code on your account. If it has been more than 10 business days since your request to change and you still have not been changed, you should follow-up with your new company.

  8. One common cause for delays in switching is a "PIC Freeze." If you have requested that your local phone company not switch your long distance carrier without your permission it is impossible for the switch to go through without adjusting that status. Each company handles this differently. Some ask you to remove the "PIC Freeze." from your line. Others ask you to teleconference with them and your local phone company to authorize the switch. Others give you a "PIC" code and ask you to notify your local phone company to switch to the new code. Check with your carrier regarding their procedure for "PIC Freezes" if you have one on your line.

  9. Most local phone companies charge you a ""PIC Switching Fee." These normally total from - to charge you for the time it takes them to enter your new information into their local telephone company computer systems for both your new long distance code and your new local toll code. Some long distance carriers will refund this switching fee. Others will not. Some also offer a guarantee that if you ever choose to switch away from their long distance service that they will pay for the switch. It pays to ask about your company's policy.

  10. You can test your phone line to see which long distance carrier is serving as your primary Pre-subscribed carrier by dialing 1-700-555-4141. This will tell you which carrier is carrying your calls. Sometimes this name will not be the company you think you are doing business with. Many long distance resellers actually route your calls over larger carriers' networks. It is not uncommon for many of the heavily discounted rate plans to be resellers that use the lines of a larger carrier. If you hear something that is unexpected when calling the test number, contact your new company to check if the test number has produced the correct result. Some resellers may provide you an alternate test number to fully verify the service.

  11. After you have verified that your service is successfully switched and working to your satisfaction it is a good idea to contact your old carrier to cancel your account. Although this should happen automatically it is usually best to make sure the account is closed to avoid any additional monthly fees, minimums, etc. But please do not cancel your old service UNTIL YOU HAVE VERIFIED that your new service is working to your satisfaction. If you cancel prior to verifying your new service you may get stranded without a carrier for a period of time, or with very high "casual caller rates."

  12. After you have verified that your service is setup and working to your satisfaction you may want to call your local telephone company and request a "PIC Freeze" on your line. This prevents unauthorized switching of your service by another carrier, a practice referred to as "slamming."

  13. We recommend keeping an eye on your bills (especially when you have recently switched carriers) to verify that everything is being charged as you expected.


Information on "slamming" (unauthorized switching of your long distance)


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