Thursday, January 24, 2008

Deciphering calling cards may get easier

Long-distance calling cards are tricky little suckers. The last time I used one was about two years ago -- since then I switched to skype calling from my laptop.

Although new online PC-to-PC programs are available, many people still prefer calling cards to new technology. And some get scammed by prepaid calling cards that don't disclose enough information about the cost and extra fees of the rate plan.

The last time I used a prepaid calling card, I thought that I would have 30 minutes to chat with a friend in Europe, but ended up getting rudely cut off 10 minutes after dialing the number. Grrr.

It's all those surcharges that they don't tell you about. Pretty sneaky, huh?

If HB 1970 is passed this session, consumers could receive more detailed information about total costs and fees. Yup. That's right. The new legislation would require companies selling prepaid calling cards to disclose the terms and services of the cards to make it easier for consumers.

According to a supporter of the bill, if the card says $1 per minute, it should be $1.

On the other hand, there are some that oppose the new bill. During the Committee on Consumer Protection & Commerce hearing today, a Verizon representative testified in opposition of the bill. Verizon said that it would be too voluminous and expensive to list all calling rates to and from more than 100 countries. AT&T, however, said that they could put consumer information on the calling card package.

There was some confusion about whether the bill required companies to disclose all rates to every country or just cost and fees. Verizon said that disclosing all country rates would take up nearly 26 pages.

The bill was deferred until Feb. 4, 2008.

No comments: