The toll-free consumer information line, operated by the Federal Trade Commission and the General Services Administration, offers personal and computerized answers to any and all Y2K-related questions. So far, calls have been coming in at a rate of about 750 a day.
Callers have the option of either speaking with an information specialist or listening to prerecorded messages about Y2K preparation. The prerecorded messages cover questions about banking, personal computers, airlines, telecommunications, electricity, food supply, what the government is doing and how to prepare for possible inconveniences or loss of services.
'We continue to monitor the kinds of questions that are coming in and expand the hotline subsequently,' Jack Gribben of the council?s press office said.
Fifteen percent of callers choose to speak with an information specialist, said Gribben. Staff chuckle over some of the questions that come in, he said. For example: 'Do we need any special vaccinations to protect us from Y2K?' The answer is no, said Gribben, adding that the hotline operators treat all questions seriously and will research a question when they don't know the answer.
According to Gribben, since its debut Jan. 7, the hotline has received approximately 143,000 calls, an average of about 750 calls per day.
Operators keep track of demographics by requesting the ZIP codes of callers. Not surprisingly, states with larger populations rank higher in terms of call volume.
The states with the most callers are California, New York, Michigan, Illinois and Texas, said Gribben.
Citizens with Y2K questions can call the Federal Year 2000 Information Center at 888-USA-4Y2K (888-872-4925). Information specialists are available from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. (EST), Monday through Friday. Callers can access prerecorded messages 24 hours a day.
Contacts: Jack Gribben, spokesman, President?s Council on Year 2000 Conversion, Washington, D.C., 202-456-7010.
Background: A text version of the prerecorded messages from the Y2K hotline can be accessed from the President?s Council on Year 2000 Conversion web site: .
The President?s Council on Year 2000 Conversion also operates the U.S. Consumer Gateway web site: www.consumer.gov.
COPYRIGHT 1999 The American News Service, 289 Fox Farm Road, Brattleboro, VT 55301. For further information, please call 1-800-654-NEWS or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.