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Citizen complaint of the day: Old payphones never die, they just rust away

Old payphones on Tremont Street, Mission Hills

At the tone, the time will be 1987.

A disgruntled citizen filed a 311 report this morning to complain about these odious double eyesores at the Shell station on Tremont Street at Brigham Circle, which look like they haven't emitted dial tones in a couple decades now.

Earlier:
Still working, un-rusted payphones on Dartmouth Street.
Bostonians lining up for payphones.

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Comments

I posted this photo six years ago. The phone was still there yesterday, without a dial tone.

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To complete this photo someone should have added a YELLOW PAGES attached to these phones

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The T could use these. The metal is a good match for subway station stairs.

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These non-functioning phones could be placed at stations, so when people want to report delays/problems, the MBTA can say "here, call someone who cares."

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Much like the phone company mantra of

"We're the phone company, we don't care"

..

"We're the MBTA, we don't care"

same energy.

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Been replaying Fallout 4. I found some caps inside one of the coin return slots here while doing one of Preston's quests.

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Back when payphones only cost a dime for local calls, hence "drop a dime", I made a call from one and went a little over the three minutes (or whatever amount of time you were allowed) and, after I hanged up, the payphone rang. I answered it. It was the operator who told me I went overtime on the call and need to deposit twenty cents more (or something like that - I'm going back 40 years...)
I told her to come find me and I hung up. Did she really think I was going to drop a little more money in?
I came up with a great scam for collect call. They were very expensive for the person agreeing to pay for the call. Let's say the call was long distance and the only purpose of the call was to say you arrived at the destination and everything was fine. You call and give a certain name as the caller. The person on the other end, hearing that particular name would get the message and merely say, "I don't accept the call. Thank you."
Any number of chosen names could be used to convey any number of messages pertaining to the circumstances. Pretty slick, huh?
Of course, this is all moot now, as there is virtually no more such things as collect calls with unlimited cell phone calling.

If any of you remember the original Thomas Crown Affair with Steve McQueen and Faye Dunnaway, it was filmed in Boston and there's a scene with a big bank of payphones. They were right across the street from a train depot, as they would be back in the day.
Can anybody tell me where the train depot was? The street where the payphones were?
I'll give you a clue, and it's really a good one, so I hate to even give it.
The train depot went away but became a restaurant with the name Depot in it.

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…. a dead giveaway.

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you can't win on Jeopardy with that.

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Re: collect call message scam

You didn't invent that.

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I never heard of it but I thought of it. I never did it, I might add, but I thought of it.
Was my description of using a particular name for a particular situation part of anybody's actual usage of that? I thought I was being pretty inventive with that.
But, moot now anyway.

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Where (and when - namely pre-cellular days) I grew up, the usual application was to get Mom to come pick us up from after-school activities.

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It is ingenious though.

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This is an old trick, well known and occasionally (ab)used by kids/broke young adults when I was growing up.

Geiko even used it for one of their commercials back in the pre-gecko days…

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Why doesn't the property owner just remove them? Could the reason be they are still receiving payment under some old lease agreement?

Not sure 311 will do anything except close this out with a "noted" comment.

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I dont see this being a 311 issue. Its on private property.

They probably are still receiving some form of paying for having them their. But the company has not come out in a very long time to service them.

You'd think some NOC somewhere would notice these aren't providing data back to them.. or even generating any revue month after month (or year after year considering how rusty these are).

Just shows you that LECs don't care about the copper infrastructure anymore.

A wire center on my street has had its doors wide open for over six months now, after repeated attempts to contact Verizon about it. (their response very atypical "We're the phone company, we don't care). I feel sorry for anyone who needs to have a copper POTS line these days in my town...

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Almost as dead as the pay phone business. The FCC stopped requiring the incumbent LECs to resell local loops in 2019 and that essentially freed them to stop selling copper-wire phone service period.

Verizon wasn't making any money in its wireline business (which includes FiOS) before they reorganized their financial reporting into business and consumer segments back in 2019. In 2018 Verizon Wireless reported an operating profit of $33 billion while Wireline lost $270 million. I can't imagine it's any better today since the reorg was likely meant to hide how badly the wireline business was doing.

As the customers drain away the network doesn't really cost much less to operate so the end result is that they charge more for the few who can't/won't switch away and let the network rot.

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(I knew most of this anyways)

so instead they are just going to let it rot. The CO in Chelsea is now boarded up. Makes me wonder if there's any service at all going thru that building anymore (even tho the windows have been busted out for over 5 years now and they are just NOW doing something about it)

its like.. just rip the damn copper network up then. Its more of a nuisance and eye sore now than anything. And the copper is probably worth alot more than the accounts that are using same copper network. (meaning its probably cheaper to rip it all up and sell it than to provide services over that same copper)

PS - we can thank Ajit for them doing away with the copper line requirement. Of course he was formerly an exec at Verizon. Same company who has been salivating about ditching their wireline business for over a decade now.

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Though landlines are greatly diminished, I disagree that they're totally dead. Pretty much every business has one.

I'm a big fan of calling local restaurants to place pickup orders, rather than fighting with a website (or worse, an app). For places in my neighborhood, it's comforting to dial a number in one of my local exchanges.

I don't think Verizon can charge more for the service, nor let it rot, since prices and service levels are state regulated.

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But a lot of today's "landlines" are VOIP. Does that still count as copper wire service?

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It still counts as a landline. You plug the phone into a jack, pick up the receiver, and make calls. And pay Verizon the state-regulated rates. The technology under the hood doesn’t matter as long as it works the same.

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VoIP doesn't count as copper service.

totally different technology in how it works and how the service is delivered.

In short, VoIP requires the internet to work, thus an internet connection is required.

Copper service. They bring the copper service to your location and poof you have dial tone.

Of course if you talked to those folks at Verizon they will tell you differently. Or they will say '5G service" is the same as copper service.

Tell that to folks who need a copper landline for some medical device, alarm system, or modem bank. VoIP is a horrible replacement for these types of systems.

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Has been a thing for like 20 years. Your call to a UNiversity 4 number doesn't necessarily go through a switch in Cambridge anymore -- it could even have been ported to a mobile line.

Prices and service might be regulated, but the state doesn't have a lot of leverage here. Verizon operates the local service through a subsidiary so if the state pushes too hard with fines or penalties they just shut down the subsidiary. It's not a core business anymore.

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They refuse to support existing copper service in any area they've added fiber.
So, a form of landline still exists.

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The property owner wouldn't get paid to host a low-use payphone. Nobody's paying anyone for these. They're just abandoned.

If private property owners had to remove all defunct technology from the premises, our city would be a lot less interesting. Everything from coal chutes to chimneys to boot scrapers to those speaking tubes in triple-deckers would have to go.

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The gas station lacks the key to open the phone chassis and remove them from the posts. They don't care enough to go out with an angle grinder and cut them off.

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Back in the day, didn't someone have to pay the phone company for the payphone (rental) as well as the calls?
Sometimes the business/property owner - sometimes someone who had a business operating payphones.

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How often does someone still walk by and put their finger in the coin return slot hoping to get lucky?

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You just gave me an idea. As an experiment, I’m going to put a quarter in the coin return slot of the defunct pay phone around the corner from me and check on it to see how long before someone takes it.

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Let us know what happens.

Back in the day you'd see someone checking the slots in busy public places (T stations, etc) every minute or so.

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… to pick up my dad, my brother and I would hit the pay phone banks and sometimes find enough to buy a couple of candy bars.

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who checked the coin return slot, every morning without fail, on a payphone at our workplace many years ago.
For a gag, I put a bunch of pennies in there. The guy took them without a puzzled look on his face. That's the weird part.

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… the sidewalk and probably should go.

However I get a kick of nostalgia every time I come across an old pay phone. I’d hate to see them all disappear. There are two in my neighborhood. One has been whimsically painted over by an artist and is now a work of art. The other draws occasional attention from curious passersby, especially kids who like to push the buttons and pretend to talk into the handset. If they are left in place they will eventually attain the status of historical antiquities and be appreciated like old cobblestones and other remnants of the good old days.

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The sidewalk isn’t blocked. https://goo.gl/maps/5axkAm5shHdU4Bjs8

As a pedestrian, I’m much more concerned by the neighboring garage driveway with poor sightlines. And it looks like it has one of those stupid beeping “vehicle exiting” signs.

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Private equipment on private property.

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We can't get rid of all the old payphones!
We need to be able to film adaptations of old 87th Precinct and Spenser stories - the type where there's some dive bar or mob-connected lounge and the cops lean on the owner-operator because their payphone is being used to make shady bets at the track!

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