Cagey Consumer[13k]

For Immediate Release September 4, 1997
For more information, contact Eli Mantel, +1 650-493-7228

Promised Savings from PhoneMiser Tough to Find

QVC Product Unnecessary to Achieve Savings

QVC recently announced that they would be marketing a product from MediaCom called PhoneMiser, which purports to

automatically provide consumers with call-by-call access to the carrier which offers the lowest rate for each call.

To receive these savings, customers need a PC running Windows 95 in addition to PhoneMiser, available for about $100. On top of this, a monthly "database update fee" of $4.95 must be paid after the first three months to be eligible to receive PhoneMiser rates.

According to MediaCom's rate finder web page, all interstate calls within the 48 contiguous states are being billed at 8.9¢ per minute, effective 8/25/97. However, competing rate plans are available that can meet or beat this rate, when the $4.95 monthly fee is taken into account.

The Cagey Consumer long distance rate calculator at cageyconsumer.com/ratecalc.html compares various long distance rate plans, including at least one plan that would be less expensive for anyone making less than 6 hours of interstate calls per month.

Even for customers making more than 6 hours of calls per month, PhoneMiser purchases are subject to several downsides:

The bottom line is that consumers can save money by shopping for the best long distance rate plan for their calling patterns -- and while PhoneMiser sounds like a neat technical idea, it is not a practical solution for most people.

Reply Received from PhoneMiser

On November 4, 1997, PhoneMiser responded to this Press Release. Please click here to view their response.
The editor and publisher of Cagey Consumer is Eli Mantel, a computer systems analyst in Palo Alto, California.
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