If you need to reach someone in Chile this week, try calling on a Verizon or T-Mobile phone. Both carriers have announced that they’re temporarily waiving charges on calls. Verizon says that all calls from the U.S. to Chile will be free until March 6th. I couldn’t find a similar press release from T-Mobile, so you might want to call first to confirm. Just remember that only these two carriers are offering free calls, and they’re only free if you call from the U.S.; you don’t want to end up with an unpleasant surprise like those U.S. soldiers in Haiti last month.
I’ll keep this short because it’s Apple-related and we all need a break from that company: Apple has removed its ban on using your iPhone’s 3G “connection” to place VOIP calls, so now you can use an app like Fring to place overseas calls even when you’re not around a Wi-Fi hotspot. Call quality in those moments will naturally depend on AT&T’s ability to provide a good 3G connection, so keep your expectations low, but still it’s good news for any iPhone/AT&T customers looking to save money on calls.
On Friday, AT&T filed a letter with the FCC accusing Google Voice of violating network neutrality principles. Google Voice doesn’t work with certain numbers that AT&T, as an old-fashioned landline and mobile provider, does.
Claire was told the wrong thing by an AT&T Wireless rep regarding international long distance, but when she called back to sort things out, she came up against the Nurse Ratched of the AT&T call center—a woman who refused to give in, or offer any help at all. In fact, when Claire finally admitted defeat and said she’d accept the credit that had been offered to her, the supervisor refused. Apparently Claire only had one chance to accept that and since she said no, it was off the table.
MSNBC says that a recent study by the FTC showed that on average, prepaid long distance phone cards only delivered about half of the minutes advertised.
If you have a landline telephone and a cable modem, then you’re in the perfect position to take advantage of cheap (sometimes free) phone calls–provided you’re willing to try one of the many oddball companies reviewed by tech columnist David Pogue in this week’s Circuits section of the New York Times.
MCI has an impressive array of overlaid customer service systems. They have an automated email reply which carefully deduces your problem and sends back possible solutions, a guy in India and then another robot system of multiple steps you have to take so they can determine whether you’re actually an MCI customer and worthy of opening a ‘trouble ticket.’ Which might be dandy if any of these multi-million dollar apparatchiks worked, or, if in the first place, Neil Gaiman, of The Sandman fame, could call his daughter’s cellphone in the UK on MCI long distance lines.
Reader Scott G got burned by long-distance provider ‘Covista.’ Here is his woe:
I read a Newsweek article in I think 2003 about low-cost long distance providers, and one they recommended was Covista/Capsule. The service was fine, but when I later tried to cancel to back with SBC, they refused to stop charging my bank account.