TALLINN - The new dialing system for international calling put into effect on Aug. 1 has caused considerable confusion and will probably bring high phone bills for local callers.
The new digits are leading callers who are trying to phone locally all the way to Russian and even South America.
According to the new dialing system, all numbers starting with the prefix 800 should have a prefix 00 when making long-distance calls, and prefixes "8" and "2" - "8" is for service numbers and "2" for mobile numbers - should be replaced with 0 when making local calls.
But thousands of callers are mistakenly dialing two zeros, when calling on a mobile phone or making a local call to another county.
As a result they unwittingly make an international call and may be surprised when they receive their bill at the end of the month.
According to Ain Parmas, spokesman from Eesti Telefon, the number of international calls to countries where prefixes are similar to those of the Estonian mobile phone operators ("50", "51", "55", "56"), has increased dramatically.
These prefixes lead to South and Latin American countries, when dialed wrongly.
Parmas said that more than 1,800 calls were made to Chile during the first two weeks of August. The prefix to Chile, for example, starts with "56", the same as the number for the Radiolinja operator.
Many people have made calls to Russia instead of Tartu, because the prefix for international calls to Russia is similar to that for Tartu.
Aili Armvaart, head accountant at the road construction company Tasfil, hopes that employees of her company have not made too many false calls but she would find that out at the beginning of September when she receives the telephone statement.
"I read through the article concerning the new dialing system many times and have thus not had any problems with dialing," said Armvaart. "I also changed the phone numbers in my mobile phone at once."
As a result of the new dialing system, mobile phone owners had to make changes in their mobile phone books and many forwardings. Short number dialings and hotline services to the numbers beginning with "8" had to be reactivated, said Parmas. Short numbers starting with "1" do not require prefix "8" any- more.
The new changes also caused problems in the POS terminals in some countryside shops, which were not aware of the new configuration system, the business daily Aripaev reported.
Krister Bjorkqvist, financial director at Eesti Telekom, said that the new dialing system is not confusing him.
"I have heard that some people are complaining and Eesti Telefon receives lots of questions from its clients," he said. "I think the best we can do is explain it in the newspapers."