Like everyone who was conscious and watching television during the ’90s, Casey and his wife have the brand of 1-800-COLLECT seared into their brains. Vacationing at a ski resort where cell coverage was spotty to nonexistent, they made a few collect calls, and that was the service that came to mind. They made a few brief calls, totaling… about as much as their monthly mobile phone bill.
The weekend of January 21st 2012 the wife and I took a short trip to
Snowshoe Mtn West Virginia. This was my first visit to Snowshoe and
the drive is only three hours. My skiing experience could not have
been better. While their website did warn about poor cell phone
coverage, I found it to be practically non existent.
We arrived on Friday evening and got settled into our room. After
grabbing a quick bite to eat it was time for my wife to make her
nightly call to her mother. Like I said, there was absolutely no cell
service in or around our condo. My wife decided to make a long
distance interstate call using her debit card. Even though it has
been at least a decade since I have made a collect call, I suggested
1-800-COLLECT. Honestly it was the only one I could remember. They
did a great job marketing their service back in the day.
I admit, it was completely her fault for not asking the operator what
the fees were. But this is 2012, even long distance calls cost
pennies per minute. This is where I want to warn everyone about
1-800-COLLECT’s practices. On their website it states a call from WV
to VA is $11.98 for the first minute and $1.99 for each additional
minute. With a little kicker, there is a five minute minimum.
Luckily their actual rates are a little different than their published
rates. My wife made three phone calls, each a few cents less than
I called customer service to haggle and roughly talked them down to
about $40 total. I got the feeling they get haggled frequently. Even
$40 for three phone calls was unreasonable and I asked to speak to a
supervisor, of course one was not available. I left my phone number
for a supervisor to call me back and my call was never returned. At
this point I passed the debacle back to my wife.
My biggest issue is the commercials on their website. If you are
going to be a sleazy company that makes money on brand recognition and
past advertising then post those ads on your website, you need to live
up to those ads. http://www.1800collect.com/index.php The commercial
with Phil Hartman RIP, says you could save up to 44%*. * = Based on a
3 minute AT&T operator-dialed interstate call. So I called AT&T and
asked what their rates are for an operator assisted call using a
credit card for payment. AT&T’s rates are $6.28 for the first minute
and $1.29 for each additional minute. Plus taxes and universal
connectivity fee. Minus the taxes that were not available through the
AT&T operator a five minute call would cost $12.73. My wife was
charged $19.92, $19.94, and $19.97 for three calls under five minutes
each. 1-800-COLLECT’s fees aren’t even approaching AT&T’s, much less
saving us up to 44%.
Eventually we did find out the front desk of our condo sold pre-paid
phone cards, $5 for 100 minutes. Please be warned, 1-800-COLLECT does
not have competitive rates.
Well, “up to” 44% can include 0%.
You know what this post needs to cheer everyone up? Those ads with the late Phil Hartman in them.