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
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
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:
Customers must learn how to install and operate PhoneMiser; there may be conflicts with
other software, and the PC must be on in order to use PhoneMiser.
It could take several years of use to recover the initial cost of PhoneMiser.
Additional payments could be required to obtain upgrades for a new version of Windows.
Customers are subject to additional risk because they must provide a credit card
number for PhoneMiser call billing.
PhoneMiser rates could become uncompetitive, rendering the investment
in PhoneMiser worthless.
Incorrect information in the database could result in calls being
carried by an unintended long distance carrier, resulting in unexpectedly
large phone costs due to "casual caller" surcharges.
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
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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