Saturday, December 02, 2006
Calling cards - a new form of maths!Calling the UK can be expensive on a landline or mobile, so naturally I have been using alternatives. The most common option is those little scratch cards that you get at the newsagent. For $10 (plus tax, naturally) I get a little piece of card with a scratch off pin number. Phone the local access number for free (all local calls are free here, even from and to mobiles), enter the pin and you can call the UK for 1c per minute. Allegedly.
So here is how it works in reality.
I phone the number. I enter my pin.
"You have 10 dollars and zero cents on your card".
I call my parents number.
"You can talk for one thousand minutes".
We natter for 45 minutes.
Next week, I call again.
"You have seven dollars on your card."
"You can talk for seven hundred minutes."
I talk for about 45 minutes again.
"You have three dollars and ten cents remaining."
Still 310 minutes.
Final call, one week later.
"You have 45 cents remaining".
"You can talk for 45 minutes".
This time the parental units aren't in. As soon as I hear the BT voicemail, I hang up and call again (just in case they were halfway down the stairs when the voicemail cut in).
"You have 44 cents remaining."
Fair enough, they round it up to the nearest minute.
Still not in. Again I hangup when I hear the dulcet tones of the BT lady.
The next day I call again.
"You have 27 cents remaining".
"You may talk for 27 minutes."
They're in, great.
Ten minutes 50 seconds later.
"This card has no credit remaining." Click. Buzz.....
Nowhere on the card, or the associated website, does it mention
a) A connection fee.
b) A daily "activation charge"
c) Tax (which I paid when I bought the card surely).
It does say "Call the UK for 1 cent per minute, no hidden charges!".
And surely when it tells you that you have x minutes to talk - you have x minutes to talk?
I have spoken to other Europeans, using different cards, and they claim the same thing. Not surprising, if you look at the websites they all seem to be run by the same company.
Fucking con. I am probably going to switch to Jajah or similar, but that ties me to my computer, at least whilst I am setting the call up. The calling card was almost as convenient as direct calling the number. With the time difference, I usually call mid-afternoon from a coffee shop or wherever I may be at the time, rather than at home. I've tried using an online system that recognises the phone you are calling from, rather than having a PIN, but those bastards simply took US$10 off my credit card and offered me 15 minutes. Then refused to return my calls or answer my emails. Consumer protection seems a little lax over here.
FOR YOUR PERUSAL