AT&T Overcharging Soldiers in Iraq… Because it Can

Allegations have arisen that AT&T is abusing its power as a monopoly provider in US soldier’s PBXs in Iraq to block 1-800 numbers needed to use non-AT&T calling cards.

“The wholesale rate for calls to the US is less than one cent a minute. Skype charges about 1.5 cents RETAIL to call the US from anywhere in the world. You can buy prepaid cards almost anywhere in the world to call the US for less than two cents a minute. AT&T charges soldiers in Iraq twenty-one cents,” writes the Fractals of Change blog.

This blocking is illegal in the US. But, among a few other codicils and curlicues, telephony regulations are different in Iraq, informs AT&T.

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  1. Danilo says:

    How very patriotic. I can’t wait to see AT&T get burned on this one. And you know the backlash will be fierce.

  2. Amy Alkon says:

    Just linked to you and Fractals on my blog. I’m encouraging AT&T customers to switch over this, and to be sure to tell AT&T why. I use those cheapo international calling cards in France. I spent 7.50 euros (about $9) on a calling card, and spent HOURS AND HOURS on the phone with my boyfriend, and working with my assistant on my column (I probably spent four hours or more on the phone with her alone), and didn’t manage to use my card up in the 10 days I was there. This is absolutely disgusting, and AT&T needs to be sent a message, as do all our apparently welded-to-the-the-lobbyist’s-teat congressturds.

  3. The money to pay off their logo redesign last December has to come from somewhere right? Well, I mean, really, aren’t the best customers those who treat calls like they’re the last time to talk to loved ones before something tragic happens? They’ll pay anything (not that they have a choice in this matter).

    This sounds awful. Soldiers should be paying far less than little Susie on an overseas fishing trip with her father.

  4. RowdyRoddyPiper says:

    I have one of these prepaid calling cards, through AT&T so that my wife can call europe and speak with her family. The rates have been going up and mysterious charges are taken, so I’ve been looking for a reason to switch. This tears it. By the way, I purchased it at a Sam’s club. I think the UberPatriotic Wal-Mart could be shamed out of selling these or used to put pressure on AT&T.

  5. RandomHookup says:

    Reach out and touch someone. It’s good to know war profiteering isn’t just for Halliburton anymore.

  6. Bubba Barney says:

    I think AT+T is plotting to take over the world. Look at how they want to buy BellSouth.

  7. adamondi says:

    This reminds me of how AT&T tried to screw me over on an overseas calling scheme once. I didn’t want to get off my butt and go buy a cheapo calling card while on vacation in England, so I just called a toll-free (in England) AT&T number that would let me put in my credit card number and have the call charged directly to it. “Convenient,” I though. Nowhere was the price per minute stated on the advertisement or when the call was actually made. It wasn’t until a few days later that I saw the charge on my credit card. The charge of almost $2.00 per minute. So seeing them screw over our soldiers doesn’t surprise me, even though it infuriates me.

    I hope AT&T dies in a flaming heap of its own fecal matter.

  8. hyperboles says:

    My husband was in the navy for the last 5 years. For about 3 and a half of those years, he was out to sea for 2 wars, and various other missions. Because he was on a carrier, there were phones available for the sailors’ use. However, they could only use AT&T calling cards on them. Conveniently (note the sarcasm here) AT&T has been giving military members the opportunity to get calling cards that act as a credit card. You use them, charge them up, and then receive a bill that you have to pay in full. Usually they get these cards when they’re booters, straight out of camp and going into training. They seem like a really good idea at the time. Remember, these people are out on ships, sometimes for as long as 10 months, and most of them have families and children. Yes, most of them have email sporadicially, but they’re occasionally desperate to hear their families’ voices too, for the warmth. Anyway, the point of my story is that for the first four years that my husband was in, AT&T was charging us at least $1 a minute per call. So, a 20 minute call was $20 out of our (very) tight budget. It was only recently that they lowered the charges per minute for the particular carrier that my husband was on . . . . to 50 cents per minute. What a deal, right?