Friday, September 21, 2007

Avoid Bad Calling Cards

I just read a CNet article about prepaid calling card scams that was written about seven years ago. I think the industry has cleaned up its act a lot, but there are still things consumers must do to make sure they're getting the best deal. (This is true of any purchase, so keep your eyes open the next time you buy anything!)

Here are some things you can do to make sure you're getting what you think you're paying for in a prepaid calling card:

1. Check for fees
A reputable calling card provider will always detail every tax, fee, and surcharge that goes along with each card. This information is usually on a card's profile page or in its details (not the most obvious locations), but it's worth finding. I gave a detailed breakdown of calling card fees a while ago.

2. Check the billing increment
There are some notes about the billing increment in the article that's linked from #1, but here's the bottom line: big billing increments can eat away your minutes if you're not careful. If you buy a 100 minute card with a 10-minute billing increment and use it to make 10 calls that last 20 seconds each, your card will be used up. 10 calls x 10-minutes each = 100 minutes. But, you say, I only talked for 3 minutes and 20 seconds, not 100 minutes! Remember: the billing increment is the unit in which you will be billed, so if it's 10 minutes, anything up to 10 minutes will be billed as 10 minutes, and any calls from 10 minutes and 1 second to 20 minutes will be billed as 20 minutes, and so on.

3. Make sure you can contact the company
And that there's a customer service number for your card. Our contact information is readily available on our website, and each calling card comes with a customer service number that's printed near the top of the purchase receipt. If you can't find contact information for any company, why would you consider purchasing from them, for calling cards or anything else?

This was inspired by the Prepaid Calling Cards section of the How Stuff Works coverage of long distance scams. It's a good article, and definitely worth checking out. Some more notes, based on their information:
  • has been around for more than 7 years, and we won't be going anywhere any time soon. We are one of the premiere providers of online calling cards.
  • We fully disclose any fees that might be associated with our calling cards, and we do our absolute best to ensure that card information is accurate across our huge inventory.
  • We deliver all of our cards online, and we have a variety of measures in place to protect you against fraud at many levels. You won't ever have to worry that you will be billed for a card you don't receive, or that you won't receive a working PIN number.
  • There are some things over which we have no control, like pay phone and cell phone surcharges. These are determined by the carrier, not by us.
Knowing as much as you can about your purchases is definitely a smart decision. If you have any questions about prepaid calling cards or, please feel free to leave them in the comment below so I can help you out.

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