Cagey Consumer

MCI Turns Phone Calling Into Lottery

Of the long distance carriers that have promoted the use of dial-around calling, perhaps the most well-known is Telecom*USA's 10-10-321 program. Now Telecom*USA has introduced a new program using the 10-10-220 carrier access code. Oh, by the way, Telecom*USA is just another name for MCI.

10-10-321

This program promises customers that they will save 50% on calls over 20 minutes, and that they will save compared to AT&T on every call. Is it true?

Depending on time and distance, AT&T's basic rates vary from 16¢ to 32¢ per minute, so calls over 20 minutes cost between 8¢ and 16¢ per minute. But how often do users of the 10-10-321 service actually make calls of at least 20 minutes? And how often do they make calls between 11 and 19 minutes, which actually cost more than 20-minute calls? Only MCI knows for sure.

The savings on calls under 20 minutes compared to AT&T's basic rate: one cent!

10-10-220

This program offers customers the opportunity to make calls up to 20 minute for 99¢... additional minutes are charged at 10¢ per minute. While this promises the possibility of making calls for as low as 5¢ per minute, callers will almost surely pay more.

For instance, if you happen to reach an answering machine, your effective rate is 99¢ per minute.

Lies, Deception, and Illegal Lotteries

That's the Cagey Consumer's opinion about these programs...
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