IDT Calling Cards Are A Scam

We’ve written about how IDT Energy tries to con ConEd customers into switching their electrical contracts, but they also sell calling cards…

According to a former employee, this side of their company is also a total scam.

First IDT lures in customers with extremely low rates, 2 cents per minute for most worldwide locations. Then they charge hidden connect and disconnect charges. These charges are disclosed in their extremely fine print, which most consumers won’t bother reading.

When people complain about all their minutes disappearing, or IDT’s frequent service crashes, IDT’s customer service staff is trained to tell any lie they need to in order to keep from giving away any minutes.

Our insider writes:

I remember one girl calling crying because she needed just one minute to call her sick mom. I tried to give it to her, but you have to ask the supervisor and he was checking me out because I always wanted to help too much. He told me: “look, these are the lies you’ve gotta tell…”, and started blabbing lie after lie after lie…

Read her full confession, inside…


Anonymous writes:

    “I was hired by a temporary job agency, along with many others, to work at IDT at it’s call center in San Juan, Puerto Rico. We were supposed to be on a test period of 3 months, as any job here in the Island. After that, if we performed well, we woul be hired as IDT internal staff.

    First came the training. We would sit in front of the computer, with a headset, and learn the bowser-based, password-protected program to manage the calling card’s minutes, balance (in dollars), and be able to write comments about the card holder. Apart from learning that program, the training consisted, mainly, on how to say “No” to the customer without he being mad… After being there a few days, saying this was a “mission impossible” was an enormous understatement.

    I started doing my job, as I was trained, the best that I could. Of course, people would only call when something wrong happened, like, say, all the money went MIA, the minutes went MIA or simply the service went MIA, among other things. The point is, customers were mad as hell, and, on top of that, I had to tell them a big, fat “No, ma’am, you can’t get your money back, nor your minutes… Anything else I can do for you?”

    You see, the customer is always right, but IDT did not believe that. The supervisors were ALWAYS MIA (mostly at lunch), even tho’ they were behind the desk. Every time a customer asked for one, I’d have to go to his desk, and he’d look me with such a disgusting face, one would feel like an ass. I know this can be a personal thing, he might be a bad person and not the company’s fault, but one of IDT’s business is also Customer Service (CS), so they know how to do their thing, and that thing was NOT about helping their customers, it was about Customer Service Representative performance.

    In order to have an efficient CS business they need to have an efficient CS representative performance, and that meant each call must last less than 3 minutes.

    If one had an average of more than 3 minutes or so, IDT’s top brass would question you and your test period was in jeopardy. Of course, one would often put you on hold and, mysteriously, the call would hang up before the three minutes where up. Not that I was a bad person, but no one can mess with my food, you know, I had to keep my performance tight, and I always did and tried to help people as much as I could, but sometimes it was just necessary for me to keep my job.

    This being a communication service, people would often rely on it too much. And even though the service worked, it was ridiculously cheap, way too cheap. The service crashed all the time. People would often spend their last two dollars on a calling card, only for the service to crash and, with the connection and disconnection fees, loose the two dollars before reaching no one. Of course they’re gonna be mad!

    I remember one girl calling crying because she needed just one minute to call her sick mom. I tried to give it to her, but you have to ask the supervisor and he was checking me out because I always wanted to help too much. He told me: “look, these are the lies you’ve gotta tell…”, and started blabbing lie after lie after lie…

    I looked at him in utter shock. How’s it possible that you mess with someone’s necessity to reach someone? All she asked for was just one minute. I don’t know why, but that girl crying will haunt me for quite a while, along with my actions towards her, or lack thereof.

    I was so frustrated that I got sick of the job, along with many others. I started snooping around to see if I could find something good to bring them down, but no luck in finding someone to help me out, even tho’ I had some interesting info at the time. I did find out out that the minutes were going away in a very suspicious way…

    I was fired soon after that, but before the test period was over, mainly because I was no good for the company, trying to give away too much minutes and all.

    That’s why I updated Wikipedia’s article on IDT, but had to do so in an unbiased way, and their discussion page let me to you, The Consumerist.

    Bottom line is, IDT does NOT care about it’s customers, nor it’s employees. The Terms of Use are written in extremely fine print on the calling card and in extremely hard-to-understand, communication-business jargon (for the layman, but not even me could understand it, working there and all). Since IDT reserves the right to change these terms, they would change often, and often these changes would not help the consumer and would add more fees. Since they pay well in Puerto Rico ($2 above minimum, $7 total), there’s always people ready to work for them. If an employee snoops around too much, the internal mafia will replace you in a jiffy, no prob for them.

    All of this is a very small slice of a very big cake. I wish to remain anonymous, as I have no proof about these things, and IDT is an immense company. Take all of this with a big, ol’ grain of salt. And pardon my English.”

— BEN POPKEN

Comments

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  1. acambras says:

    We buy $2 calling cards to call Mexico — it’s a nice way to prepay, it’s pretty cheap (1-2 hours, depending on the card co.), you can call from anywhere (incl. cell), and you don’t get hit with a nasty phone bill at the end of the month.

    We get the occasional “dud.” We have put several companies on our personal shitlist and don’t buy their cards anymore. Conversely, we’ve learned which cards are better — yielding the most minutes with the lowest connection charges, have an easier connection, etc. We don’t buy them from machines — we go to gas stations or bodegas where there are about 10 different cards to choose from. We’ve found that it’s better to buy 5 $2 cards than 1 $10 card. Apart from ending up with more minutes for the same amount of money, it’s easier to lose $2 on a dud than $10.

    It’s kind of a crapshoot, really — these companies seem to come and go fairly quickly. Fortunately, if we lose $2, it’s not too much to us. But it sucks that these companies get away with this. A lot of card users around here probably get screwed but can’t get much done about it — perhaps reluctant to complain because they’re here illegally and/or because it’s hard to complain to the Atty. General if you don’t have a command of English. Companies like IDT are probably counting on that.

    When I say “we,” I refer to my boyfriend and me. Although I personally have no problem with The Royal We. ;-)

  2. Kos says:

    So how is IDT still in business?

  3. TheUpMyAssPlayers says:

    Not enough people band together, or are they are simply unaware that they can affect a large corporation.

    Or they’re really busy with other things and taking time and effort out of their full day may not appeal to them. I think.

  4. billhelm says:

    I think phone service (long distance) was IDT’s first business before they got into these power scams. I had them as a long distance provider, and they were run of the mill like any other, but with cheaper rates back in the late 90s, early 2000’s… I canceled my land line with Qwest and had no need for their service, so I cancelled. they continued to bill me for monthly service on a disconnected line for months afterwards. I never paid and kept calling them to tell them that they were billing for service on a line that no longer existed. they finally fixed it but it was a big hassle.

  5. Sounds like pretty much every call-center I know.

  6. Nygdan says:

    @Kos, “So how is IDT still in business?”

    Notice that in the insider information given in the article, there was nothing about the company loosing money. They do everything they can to suck up money from their customers, and don’t even reimburse a single dollars worth of time for occasions where it’d be appriopriate.

    THATS how they are still in business. Its very profitable to rip people off.

  7. homerjay says:

    Is this post considered libel? Could someone please check with Shaun Larson on this?

  8. NeonGen says:

    THAT STORY IS 100% TRUE
    I also worked at IDT’s Call Center in Puerto Rico a few years back. After that experience I have absolutely NO trust in Customer Service, whatsoever. They instructed us to LIE LIE LIE. I even witnessed co-workers who had been there for a while ‘transfering’ calls to the supervisor: they would look up from their cubicle to find a Rep that was not doing anything, ask them for their extension and then tell them to repeat what they said to a customer, ACTING as a manager. The managment and trainers were adamant that we never terminate a call, even if we have resolved a problem the customer must always hang up first. Well we might as well have been hanging up the calls as soon as we got them because there really was nothing that we could do.
    It was a completely disheartening experience; I don’t feel I can trust any customer service AT ALL anymore. Also, BEWARE, IDT services and creates many Calling Card Products for other companies, such as 7-11 and for limited time promotions for movies, etc. NOT ALL IDT CALLING CARDS ARE IDT BRANDED. Make sure that you physically examine any calling card that you wish to purchase and look out for a small IDT logo, or ‘IDT’ in the fine print. These cards are a sham; but AT&T brand calling cards.

  9. acceptablerisk says:

    While worst than most, this is pretty much at least somewhat symptomatic of every call center. The “customer service” industry isn’t about serving the customer. It’s about maximizing profitability while attempting to maintain a positive comsumer image.