AT&T is charging users of its prepaid calling cards up to eight minutes per minute spent making an in-state call. The practice began in February and affects in-state calls made from every state except Illinois, Indiana, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts.
AT&T claims it is required by the FCC to pay the in-state connection fees set by each state. That would be nice, except according to an FCC spokesman, “Calling card rates aren’t regulated. Period.”
More AT&T doublespeak, after the jump…
The Executive Director of the Missouri Public Service Commission echoed the FCC’s comment, saying: “The PSC does not regulate the prepaid (calling) cards.” Missouri has not regulated telecom rates “for several years,” and the PSC does not audit AT&T, since the telecom no longer needs state approval to raise rates.
AT&T adamantly insists, however, that the charges are not a rate increase, but a “reclassification.” In a sign of how far AT&T has wandered from the range, their billing practices have not been followed by either Sprint or Verizon; each charge their prepaid calling card users one minute per minute of in-state talk time.
The full list of charges from AT&T’s Prepaid Calling Card Terms and Conditions:
For calls that begin and end within the same state, minutes are deducted at the following rates per minute of talk time:
1 minute: DC, IL, IN, MA, RI, USVI;
3 minutes: AL, AR, CA, CT, DE, GA, HI, KS, KY, LA, MD, ME, MI, MS, NE, NJ, NM, NV, NY, OH, OR, PR, SC, TN, UT, WI, WV;
5 minutes: AK, AZ, CO, FL, IA, ID, MN, MT, NC, NH, OK, PA, TX, VA, VT, WA, WY;
8 minutes: MO, ND, SD.
— CAREY GREENBERG-BERGER
AT&T now charges eight minutes for one of these one-minute calls in Missouri [St. Louis Post-Dispatch]