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Area Code 900 went into service January 1, 1971, but the first known to have been used in the United States for the "Ask President Carter" program in March 1977, for incoming calls to a nationwide talk radio broadcast featuring the newly elected President Jimmy Carter, hosted by anchorman Walter Cronkite.At that time, the intent for area code 900 was as a choke exchange—a code that blocked large numbers of simultaneous callers from jamming up the long distance network.Therefore, in contrast to North America where customer service numbers are typically free of charge to the caller, consumers in Europe often used to pay a premium above the cost of a normal telephone call.The EU Consumer Rights Directive 2011/EU/83 came into force on 13 June 2014. Implementation detail, and hence the level of success in achieving this aim, varies considerably from country to country.While the billing is different, calls are usually routed the same way they are for a toll-free telephone number, being anywhere despite the area code used.These telephone numbers are usually allocated from a national telephone numbering plan in such a way that they are easily distinguished from other numbers.Initially, consumers had no choice regarding the accessibility to 900/976 numbers on their phones.However, in 1987, after a child had accumulated a bill of ,000 From the early 1980s through the early 1990s, it was common to see commercials promoting 1-900 numbers to children featuring such things as characters famous from Saturday morning cartoons to Santa Claus.

One scheme involved inducing users to download a program known as a dialer that surreptitiously dialed a premium-rate number, accumulating charges on the user's phone bill without their knowledge.In 1992, the Supreme Court allowed a law passed by Congress that created a block on all 900 numbers that provided adult content, except for those consumers who requested access to a specific number in writing.The law killed the adult 900 number business, which moved over to 800 numbers, where billing had to be done by credit card.Other early leaders in amassing huge volumes of revenue were the New Kids on the Block and Dionne Warwick's Psychic Friends Network.Consumers in the US have specific rights regarding 900 number calls, as laid down by the Federal Trade Commission, such as the right to a disclaimer at the beginning of the call and a subsequent 3-second hang-up grace period, the ability to contest billing errors, a prohibition on marketing to children, and a requirement that telecommunication companies must allow the consumer to block dialing to 900 numbers.

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