Liberal Mutual Telephone Company Didn’t Like People Sharing Their Service

The people of the Liberal Mutual Telephone Company *really* didn’t want people sharing service with their neighbors and friends.

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From Telephony, The American Telephone Journal, July 2, 1910

Good Arguments Against the Borrowing Habit.

Mr. G. H. Dixson, secretary and manager of the Liberal Mutual Telephone Company, Liberal, Missouri, is embarked in an educational campaign against the folly and injustice of “borrowing” telephone service. He is using his directory to convince subscribers that it is to their disadvantage to allow this practice, and unfair to the company, and is producing some matter bearing on this point which is worthy of reproducing in the directories of other companies. There is no question but what it will pay to devote attention to the elimination of this nuisance and expense. The only point for discussion is that of method.

An examination of the following abstracts from the directory of the Liberal Mutual Telephone Company will show that Mr. Dixson has given careful study to the subject, and produced some arguments which should bring results.

‘Important—A Mutual Understanding—We place an instrument in your house or office for the purpose of furnishing only you and your household—which includes your employees and guests stopping with you-—telephone service.

“The rate for this service is one dollar per month for residence, and two dollars for business telephones.

“When non-subscribers ask to use your telephone, it is your duty to see that Central is informed of the fact, that the operator may make arrangements with the party calling to pay the tolls to you, or go to Central or either of the hotels where public pay-stations are installed for their convenience.

“If you permit them to talk out of town without O. K.’ing the call, or talk for them, you will be held responsible for the tolls, which will be charged to your account.

“Telephone service is our stock in trade, and you have no more right to give it away than we would have to give some of your property to another.”

“It is a fact that is becoming more generally known by people who read that as the number of telephones increases, so does the cost of operating each instrument. Many persons may find it hard to credit such a statement, as it is not the usual principle that the increasing volume of business will also increase the average cost, it must be borne in mind, however, that it is the accumulation of calls of a large exchange over a small one that is directly responsible for the increase in cost.

“It is much like the old problem of shoeing a horse at one cent for the first nail, two cents for the second, doubling the price of each nail. The shoeing of a horse year after year would bankrupt a millionaire.

“That is why the non-paying telephone user is becoming a menace to telephone companies all over the land, causing some companies to discard the flat rate system for that of ‘measured service.'”

‘Would you like to pay for a telephone and not be able to use it, while your neighbor uses it and pays nothing?

“That is what you do when you let a non-subscriber use your telephone. He is enjoying the advantages of the whole telephone system without paying, but when you want the non-subscriber you have to go after him. You pay for the service but can’t use it.

“More than that, he keeps the lines busy so that others who are paying for the service can’t get it when they want it.

“Do you think it just?

“Every call put in costs the telephone company money.

“The telephone company needs the money to improve the service. It must all come from those who use it. Do you want to pay it all, or would you like to have the other fellow pay his share?”

“The man who wanted to talk to you on important business was likely in a hurry and couldn’t wait for the ‘dead head,’ who kept the line busy, to ‘ring off.’

“Your line won’t be busy so often if the idle gossiper had to pay for his service. Sava?”

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