Attack Aftermath: Phone Lines Blocked for New York Marketers

New York—As people frantically tried to call family members and friends following the Sept. 11 attacks on New York and Washington, telephone lines throughout the greater New York area were jammed. For many local companies, they remained jammed the day after.

The office phone lines for New York-based teen apparel marketer Alloy were still blocked on Wednesday, as was the case with New York-based apparel cataloger/retailer J. Crew, and Rye, NY-based multititle gifts cataloger Lillian Vernon. The Manhattan office lines for women’s apparel cataloger Newport News rang through, although the connection was choppy at best. Calls to Newport News were not returned by press time.

In addition to its corporate office phone lines being tied up, Alloy had problems with its customer service/order line. The 888-number line immediately rolled over to a message, which said that due to the current call volume, orders would be handled through the voice mail system.

Luckily, the catalogers contacted are not based near the World Trade Center and sustained no damages. According to a spokesperson at J. Crew’s Lynchburg, VA, office, “everyone [at the New York office] is fine.” But as New York officials needed to keep the city clear (and closed all businesses below 14th Street), many companies based closer to midtown remained closed anyway. For instance, the corporate offices of men’s apparel marketer Brooks Brothers were closed Sept. 12, and a telephone service rep contacted that day had no information regarding when they would reopen.

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