AT&T: Get Monopoly, Triple Rates

I’ll warn you up front this is mostly a rant, but if you use AT&T calling cards, you’ll want to pay attention. Back in 2005 I couldn’t believe that the FCC would approve the merger of AT&T and SBC, but they did. Then, just recently, they approved the merger of AT&T and Bell South. Uh, is it just me or does anyone remember the reason why we had all of the “Baby Bell” companies to begin with? It hasn’t been that long, really. It’s because they were a monopoly and they got away with whatever they wanted!

I do not carry any long distance on my land line. It’s a big rip-off. I either use my cell phone, or a prepaid phone card that I get at Sam’s Club. AT 3.4 cents/minute, it beats most long distance plans out there.

But, last weekend, it was brought to my attention that AT&T has “modified” their pricing for their phone cards. For my intra-state calls (in MI), they are tripling their rates… and I’m lucky! In some states, they are increasing 8 times!

For calls that begin and end within the same state, minutes will be deducted at the following rates per minute of talk time: 1 minute: DC, IL, IN, MA, RI, USVI; 3 minutes: AL, CA, CT, DE, GA, HI, KS, KY, LA, MD, ME, MI, MS, NE, NJ, NV, NY, OH, OR, PR, SC, TN, UT, WI, WV; 5 minutes: CO, FL, IA, ID, MN, NC, NH, OK, PA, TX, VA, WA, WY; and 8 minutes: AK, AR, AZ, MO, MT, ND, NM, SD, VT.

From: https://www.consumer.att.com/prepaidcard/fy/terms.html

I find this quite interesting now that AT&T no longer competes with Ameritec/SBC with long distance phone service. Coincidence? I doubt it. It may seem like a small thing, but I sure this is just one of many small “perks” that (once again) having a phone monopoly brings. (Do you really think they’ll keep their promise on net neutrality?

So, I’ve got a couple alternatives. It looks like MCI has a calling card that will get me 3 cents/minute. I’m also seriously looking at using Skype more frequently. Through the end of January 2007, they’ve got a really good deal. You can get an entire year of SypeOut (PC to phone) calling for only $14.95. So maybe I’ll be using that until AT&T decides to start “accidentally” dropping my VOIP packets. Grrrr.

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10 Responses to AT&T: Get Monopoly, Triple Rates

  1. IronKurton says:

    Speaking of Skype, the new year brought new charges. I was really psyched near the end of last year when I downloaded Skype for the first time and found out I can do pc-to-phone calls for free. Now, they charge something like 2 c/min.

    In my opinion, they will find a loophole in net neutrality allowing them to charge for VoiP calls somehow.

  2. dav3 says:

    I can’t believe their actually allowing AT&T to buy up all these companies.. looks like they’re aspiring to be “The One” company for all! Geez!

  3. Dean says:

    Geez, you guys! You can’t possibly be surprised at what’s happening during BushDip’s administration. This is called getting the guvment off Big Business’ back. Back to the 60’s we go. Ma Bell was the 600 lb. gorilla and could charge what she wanted. Many Amateur Radio Hams ran a free service for needy people back then…they would phone patch to the nearest ham in your destination state/country and provide all the conversation you wanted.

    I think it’s time to think about wireless ham-to-ham connections! Hams…you’re needed again.

  4. Mike says:

    I just found your rant after figuring out I was being shafted by ATT… Just put 800 minutes on a card I’ve been using for years and dialed up my parents who also live in MN. Instead of 800 minutes the automaton says I have 153 minutes…. Skype just became a lot less inconvenient.

  5. Carol A. says:

    I purchased a 75 minute AT&T card and I ONLY have 15 minutes on it when I call in-state. What a RIP-OFF and a WASTE of money! I will never deal with AT&T again.
    Tell your friends…..they are ripping off the American public!

  6. Val R says:

    YES. Back in 1983-1984 the big MA BELL was split for Antitrust LAW violations – Therefore the baby bell companies such as Pacific Bell, and others were born (under the same protective umbrella I might add).

    History repeats itself. Here we are, in 2007, and BIG MA BELL is back together, as nothing had ever happened.

    Not only that, but they are ripping people off more agressively, nowadays.

    I guess they have to make up for all those years they were decimated.

    I recently made a few calls here and there, throughout the world from my land line.

    $5 per minute. I could not believe my eyes, when I got the bill.

    I think it’s time (again) for some class action law suit against these bastards.

    In an age when Internet rules, and one can choose a variety of connections to the outside world, AT&T decides to RIP PEOPLE OFF.

    I have no idea how this should be handled, but it is called ROBBERY. PERIOD.

    People get put in JAIL for robbery, while BIG Corporations get a 20 break, and they are in business again??

    Regards,

    Val R

  7. Nothing lasts! It is a matter of time, but they are building a house of cards.
    With a competition (APS or American Phone Services; Skype; JustVoIP; Jajah etc.), they will have to scramble or to go from antitrust monopoly to
    bankruptcy court. There are, today, companies providing telephone
    services for pennies a minute or even free!

  8. S. A. says:

    Actually, the rate increase has NOTHING to do with AT&T buying out other companies or Ma Bell. It has everything to do with the FCC socking it to AT&T. This article explains it well…

    http://blog.washingtonpost.com/thecheckout/2007/02/when_local_calls_cost_more_tha.html

    Hope this helps make things more clear.

  9. J Fortunato says:

    I want to caution anyone who has Auto Recharge for phone card. My wife did it and they deducted and recharged about 20 times, sometimes in same day. Then when we complain we get NO HELP.
    They are crooks.

  10. Carolyn Gongaware says:

    Last time I purchase a calling card. I bought AT&T from Sam’s Club used 150 minutes of the 1250 minutes and was told today it had zero balance. They stated it had been recharged three times the last was a thousand minutes, perferred to think I let someone have my number, da, never left my house no one has access to it. Customer service told me I would have to get a court order to get the number from which the calls were being made. What a rip-off. My cell phone is cheaper than paying for calls I never made.

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