Looking for a great long-distance deal? Think
you've found the cheapest rates, but still confused by all the ads? Here's how to sort out
what's clearly in ads and what's not.
Look for all the information related to PRICE.
Monthly Fees: When an ad promises 10 cents a minute, look for any
monthly fees or surcharges you'll have to pay to get that rate.
Minimum Charges: Look for minimum charges for each call. If every call
has a 50-cent minimum, even a two-minute call can cost you 50 cents. On "up to 20
minutes for a dollar" plans, a one-minute call or a message you leave on an answering
machine is a dollar.
Climbing Rates: An ad may say that all calls up to 20 minutes are a
dollar. Look for information on what happens to the rate structure after 20 minutes. Rates
may increase dramatically.
Look for all theinformation related to RESTRICTIONS on the advertised rates.
Time Restrictions: Is the advertised rate available when you want it?
Some rates may apply only at certain times of the day or only on certain days of the week.
What are the rates at the other times?
Geographic Restrictions: Is the advertised rate available on all long
distance calls -those that you make to someone in another state as well as those that you
make to someone in another city in your own state? Some plans do not include long distance
calls in the same state. Find out what those rates are and factor them in when you make
Promotional Restrictions: Are the advertised rates constant or an
introductory offer that's good for a limited time - like the first 60 days of your
subscription? If so, what are the rates once the promotion is over?
Decode COMPARATIVE CLAIMS.
Basic Rates: An ad promising "50 percent off the basic rate"
isn't a good deal because the "basic" rate is another term for the highest rate
Comparable Services: When ads compare calling rates, are the services
comparable? Is the information on both sides of the comparison as current as possible?
Look for the FINE PRINT. Read it.
Advance Work: Offers and restrictions vary. Each long distance
provider has their own deals. Read the details from all the companies you are considering
before you sign up. If you have questions, call the company for an explanation.
Look at your MONTHLY BILLS carefully.
Pay attention to your bill, checking to make sure you are being charge exactly what you
expected. If you think there's a mistake, or if you just don't understand your bill, call
your provider for an explanation.
To File a Complaint
Federal Communications Commission
For additional information about telephone service plans, please call the FCC's
toll-free number 1-888-CALL-FCC (1-888-225-5322): TTY users 1-888-835-5322. You may write
the Consumer Information Bureau, Federal Communications Commission, 445 12th Street, S.W.,
Washington, D.C. 20554. Additional information is available through the Internet at
Federal Trade Commission
The FTC works for the consumer to
prevent fraudulent, deceptive and unfair business practices in the
marketplace and to provide information to help consumers spot, stop and
avoid them. To file a
complaint or to get free information
on consumer issues, visit
call toll-free, 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357); TTY: 1-866-653-4261. The
FTC enters Internet, telemarketing, identity theft and other fraud-related
Consumer Sentinel, a
secure, online database available to hundreds of civil and criminal law
enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad.
FEDERAL TRADE COMMISSION
FOR THE CONSUMER