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Guide

Payphone Relay Service

Background

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) requires Telecommunications Relay Service (TRS) providers to be able to handle all calls normally carried by telephone companies, including “coin sent-paid” calls (calls made from a coin-operated payphone).

TRS and How It Works

TRS is a service that enables persons with hearing or speech disabilities to communicate by telephone with persons who do not have such disabilities. This communication is accomplished through TRS centers using trained communications assistants (CAs) who relay conversations using either text, voice or video devices. For more information about TRS, see the FCC’s TRS consumer guide.

TRS is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, at no extra cost to callers. Your local relay service can be accessed by dialing 711, a toll free relay service number or the TRS center’s seven digit number that can be found in the Customer Guide pages of your local telephone directory.

The Payphone Relay Program

The payphone relay program covers local and long distance calls. You can make such calls from any coin-operated public payphone using TRS. If a call is local, you do not need to use coins, a calling card, or a prepaid card. Just dial 711 on most payphones and give the local number you wish to call. You can make long distance calls by charging them to your calling card, including a prepaid card, or by calling collect. Charges for calling cards may vary, so check with your provider about applicable rates.

For more information on prepaid phone cards, see the FCC’s prepaid phone cards consumer guide.

Getting a Telephone Calling Card or Prepaid Card

If you want information about obtaining a telephone calling card or prepaid card, call your TRS provider, the business office of your local telephone company, your long distance carrier, or, if available, a center for individuals with special needs. The TTY and voice numbers for such centers can be found in the Customer Guide pages of your local telephone directory. Prepaid cards are also available at convenience stores, gas stations, grocery stores, newsstands and other public places. The FCC does not currently regulate prepaid card rates, so check with the provider and shop around for the best prices.

Filing a Complaint with the FCC

If you have a complaint about lack of or improperly functioning payphone relay service, first try to resolve it with the service provider. If you cannot resolve the matter directly, you can file a complaint with the FCC. There is no charge for filing a complaint. You can file your complaint using an online complaint form. You can also file your complaint with the FCC’s Consumer Center by using the contact information provided in the For More Information section below.

What to Include in Your Complaint

The best way to provide all the information the FCC needs to process your complaint is to thoroughly complete the online complaint form. When you open the online complaint form, you will be asked a series of questions that will take you to the particular section of the form you need to complete. If you do not use the online complaint form, your complaint, at a minimum, should indicate:

  • your name, address, email address and phone number where you can be reached;
  • whether you are filing a complaint on behalf of another party, and if so, the party’s name, address, email address, day time phone number and your relationship to the party;
  • preferred format or method of response (letter, fax voice phone call, email, TRS, TTY, ASCII text, audio recording or Braille);
  • that your complaint is about accessing TRS;
  • the name, address and telephone number (if known) of the company or companies involved with your complaint; and
  • a brief description of your complaint and the resolution you are seeking, and a full description of the equipment or service you are complaining about, including date of purchase, use or attempt to use.

For More Information

For more information about payphone relay service, TRS, or FCC programs to promote access to telecommunications services for people with disabilities, visit the FCC’s Disability Rights Office website. For information about other communications issues, visit the FCC’s Consumer website, or contact the FCC’s Consumer Center by calling 1-888-CALL-FCC (1-888-225-5322) voice or 1-888-TELL-FCC (1-888-835-5322) TTY; faxing 1-866-418-0232; or writing to:

Federal Communications Commission
Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau
Consumer Inquiries and Complaints Division
445 12th Street, SW
Washington, DC 20554

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Payphone Relay Service Guide (pdf)

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