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One day I'll write a book about the differences between the US and the UK, they are many and small, but they are sometimes quite frustrating.

An example, that just happened to me, for which I feel kind of dumb about, so here: Enjoy my shame.

In the UK, much like the US, we have area codes, and then the actual phone number. So my home number would be something like 01277 123456 (obviously not my real number, but the area code is real). When you are dialling locally, like in the US, you don't need to dial the area code. When you dial another area code you just dial the other area code... say 01368.

In the US you need to preface that "long distance" area code with a 1, so SF's code is 415, but to call it from Oakland I'd call 1-415-whatever.

Which as you can guess totally threw me for a loop. I wondered why I was getting some annoyed latino guy. The reason it is so wierd to me is that its basically like the UK using the country code for every call. We do something similar (all area codes include the 0 at the begining for this reason and you drop it for international calls) but not using the country code.

So yes; subtle, small, differences... but sometimes important ones.


( 14 comments — Leave a comment )
19th Jun, 2006 23:56 (UTC)
Just to help you out in case you don't already know this...in some larger areas, you have to use the area code without the 1 in front of it for "local long distance," and with most cell phones, you don't need the 1 at all, period.

We are ridiculous, aren't we?
19th Jun, 2006 23:58 (UTC)
er... wait... what?

How do you know?
20th Jun, 2006 00:18 (UTC)
You don't always know ahead of time. There are two ways you can tell, though...You'll get a strange busy signal, or a horrible set of tones and then a "We're sorry, we cannot complete your call as dialed" type message. The local long distance thing is controlled by individual phone carriers in different locales, so you have to look in the front of the phone book for the area you are presently in to know what is and isn't local long distance.

In other words, dial it without the 1 the first time, and if it seems busy for too long, try it WITH the 1.
20th Jun, 2006 00:37 (UTC)
Oh- some places have it set up so that if you dial 1-area code-number it will always work. Some don't. Worse, businesses often have phone plans that will charge you local long distance for calls made with the 1+area code if you don't need it. We had that issue at work in Houston, which is why I suggest NOT dialing the 1 to begin with: you aren't charged for calls that don't go through due to bad numbers or busy lines.
20th Jun, 2006 00:37 (UTC)
What you need is a survival manual.
19th Jun, 2006 23:58 (UTC)
Recently my state decided to get weird and have some area codes overlap, so now I have to use the area code for any and all codes.

I've had to go back and add them to all my contacts in my phone book. Bah.
20th Jun, 2006 00:24 (UTC)
your not alone at all.
nothing in the world makes me feel dumber than trying to place an international call. i get it wrong every time since i'm used to the way we do things here in the states. :|
20th Jun, 2006 00:48 (UTC)
well the general rule for that is:

International Dialling code (011 I think in the US) + country code + rest of phone number.

In the UK you drop the 0 from the area code, but thats about it.

Confused me the first few times I did it, but I'm very used to it by now.
20th Jun, 2006 01:19 (UTC)
i'm sure you are!
i unfortunately only call international like three times a year, so i between times i have time to completely forget all of that. *lol*
20th Jun, 2006 01:02 (UTC)
yes, the country code for the US is 1

area codes confuse me too. in Washington (state), you still need to dial the 1 before the area codes for various areas (that's what i did at my old place of work), but i don't know if you get charged long distance for it or not if you're using a landline.

for my cell phone, i don't have to dial the 1 first before the area code + number, because - i don't know. cell phones are ass-backward? my minutes count for use as "free long distance" or i can use them for "local" calls. i've never tried to call international except up to Canada, and i could call up to Victoria like it was part of the US but got charged for roaming (i wasn't really surprised) when i went up there with my brother to visit some friends of his.

when i lived on Kauai, in Hawaii (state), the whole state has the area code of 808 but if you were dialing to another island you were charged long distance (on a landline. cell phones have their own rules) and you had to dial the 1 first.

yes, it's all kinds of fucked up and trial and error. it's a big reason why i still hate phones. scared the piss out of me as a kid.
20th Jun, 2006 01:08 (UTC)
I'm still iffy on the european version - and I used to work in a position where I dialed internationally all day long... I just assumed that someone would give me all the numbers I needed! ;)

To make it even more complex - here in Denver there's a *fully* overlapping area-code thing.
There are 2 area codes that serve the city, no matter where you are located.
One is 303, the other is 720.
You can have (and I have had) 2 phones in the same house with different area codes...
BUT - you don't dial a 1 prior to the area codes if you are dialing locally. You *always* have to dial 10 digits (3 area code, 7 number) for every phone in the area... but to get to any other area code in colorado you have to dial a one first.
If you dial a 1 in front of 303 or 720 and you are calling from one of those numbers, you MAY get charged long distance rates depending on who is carrying the call.
Weird, eh?

The problem is, once you get used to dialing 10 numbers all the time, it's weird when you go someplace that you don't dial the area code!! :P
20th Jun, 2006 02:10 (UTC)
You know how 'local' American calls are seven digits, i.e. xxx-xxxx?

When I was very small, we lived very rural-ly, and had a six digit phone number.

But yeah, crazy-ass phone numbers and ways to dial them.

20th Jun, 2006 04:59 (UTC)
One day I'll write a book about the differences between the US and the UK
You and me both, man.

Since mobile plans have gotten so reasonable for large amounts of minutes (well, at least in the market I was living), I all but gave up on landlines.

With a mobile, numbers always work sans the initial '1' and are all the same price (well, as long as you checked the 'free long distance' box).

Since the advent of Skype and etc, I don't need a phone (mobile or landline) to call internationally, so hurrah!

I can't remember our six digit number. I mean, I remember having it for a few years, but not the actual digits.
20th Jun, 2006 07:02 (UTC)
You should totally post more differences you've noticed, I'm really curious to know!

This reminded me of a British customer that came through my line (I'm a checker in a grocery store) at work the other day. I was wearing about 12 bangle bracelets and says to me "I like your bracelets. What do you call them here in America?" I told him and he said "Oh....that's what we call them, too." I think he was disappointed or something. It was kinda funny though. :-)
( 14 comments — Leave a comment )