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Author Topic: Mercury Communications  (Read 237 times)

burakkucat

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Mercury Communications
« on: November 14, 2017, 05:46:16 PM »

I have been looking at the history of Mercury Communications (1981 - 1997) and wonder if anyone here subscribed to that company's telephone service in place of British Telecommunications?

I can well remember the creation of Mercury Communications with its big publicity fanfare (in the early 1980s) and recall the installation of two call booths in my local high street (in 1994). Within three years those call booths had been removed and the pavement surface had been made good.
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WWWombat

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Re: Mercury Communications
« Reply #1 on: November 14, 2017, 06:42:00 PM »

The service for cheaper trunk calls, by dialling a prefix? I have a vague recollection that I might have done that.
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burakkucat

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Re: Mercury Communications
« Reply #2 on: November 14, 2017, 07:35:46 PM »

A telephone with the blue "Mercury Button", maybe?
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gt94sss2

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Re: Mercury Communications
« Reply #3 on: November 14, 2017, 08:57:15 PM »

The service for cheaper trunk calls, by dialling a prefix? I have a vague recollection that I might have done that.

I believe they used the 131/132 prefix - and like you I recall using them for some calls while retaining the line rental with BT
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Bestgear

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Re: Mercury Communications
« Reply #4 on: November 14, 2017, 09:25:23 PM »

Hi

We used (my company) Mercury in the 80's/early 90's and had a big box that diverted the outgoing calls based on least cost routing.

I think the office still as a Mercurity wall mounted cabinet in there, but expect the contents will be long gone. They also used to have a weird floor standing cabinet too.

David
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sheddyian

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Re: Mercury Communications
« Reply #5 on: November 14, 2017, 10:10:44 PM »

I have fond memories of Mercury, around 94/95 I think.

I was on the South Coast, my then girlfriend lived in Bradford.  Even off-peak, long distance calls were expensive.  I signed up to Mercury, you received a code to dial.  The savings were so significant that in one evening, I'd saved more than the monthly/yearly (I forget) subs cost me.  I can remember being astonished at this.

Soon after this I had dialup internet at home - late 1995 I think, with Demon Internet.  This involved a call to London!  BT charged a little less for this than usual long distance, as it was London, which came under a reduced rate (something like "long distance on low cost route"?).  But Mercury was still significantly cheaper for this, so I set my Windows 3.11 (later Windows 95 - it was the future) machine to dial the Mercury prefix for me before dialling Demon Internet.

I bought myself a Mercury phone as well, so I had the blue "M" button to make long distance calls more convenient.

I can't now remember : did you have to dial the access code, then enter some kind of id code, and then the number you wished to dial?  Or was it just access code (3 or 4 digits?) then the number to call.  If the former, then the blue button would make more sense.

I also liked the itemised billing that Mercury sent you, it seemed space age compared to what BT offered at the time.

(This was only a few years after VAT rose to 17.5% and BT billing systems couldn't handle the decimal point, having to issue bills rounded (up?) with a credit paid back later.)

This is all from a consumer's memory, mind, so I may be mistaken.

Ian

[Modified to add:] I'm reasonably sure you dialled an access code, then you had an id / account number that you dialled, possibly followed by # , then the actual telephone number you wanted to dial.  So the blue Mercury button was convenient, as you could program it to do the prefix and id number for you, leaving you to only have to remember the number you wished to call.

« Last Edit: November 14, 2017, 10:16:36 PM by sheddyian »
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WWWombat

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Re: Mercury Communications
« Reply #6 on: November 14, 2017, 10:22:02 PM »

A telephone with the blue "Mercury Button", maybe?

It's so long ago, my memory is hazy on this point.

If it was for me, then I'd have just used the prefix code. But it might have been for my girlfriend at the time ... so a blue-button phone might have been part of it.

My first mobile was from Mercury/one2one.
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burakkucat

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Re: Mercury Communications
« Reply #7 on: November 14, 2017, 10:40:33 PM »

The Wikipedia entry for Mercury Communications mentions the 131 & 132 dialling codes and the ten digit customer code.
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sheddyian

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Re: Mercury Communications
« Reply #8 on: November 14, 2017, 11:10:47 PM »

The Wikipedia entry for Mercury Communications mentions the 131 & 132 dialling codes and the ten digit customer code.
Yes, it's coming back to me a little, there were a lot of digits to dial, and although I could remember them at the time, it was more convenient to just jab a blue button, (wait for a 2nd dial tone?) then dial the number you wanted to call.

I used to visit London a lot in the later 1980's, and I saw the new Mercury phone boxes appearing near railway stations.  I bought some phone cards, which featured the Harry Enfield character of Mr Chomondley Warner.
who had appeared in adverts for Mercury phones at the time.

Ian
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sheddyian

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Re: Mercury Communications
« Reply #9 on: November 14, 2017, 11:15:01 PM »

It would appear there are a few Mercury ads on Youtube.


I always liked the Mr Chomondley Warner character on the Harry Enfield show, perhaps because of the convincing old look to it - it wasn't just a bit of superimposed film noise, it felt like care had been taken over making it feel authentic.

Ian
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