Bell Atlantic. What are they trying to pull ?

I have Bell Atlantic for local and also regional toll calling (100 hours/ month flat rate). Recently got a letter as did many others, parents a couple local friends who also have this plan. We got notification in the mail saying “In a recent review of your calling patterns, we found that your level of regional calling, when compared with your 100 Hour Plan rate, is substantially higher than allowed by the terms of the plan.” Now all of us checked our bills, they are ALL under 100 hours by a substantial amount. The new rates will now apparently be based on the activity of individual accounts over past 6 months. Wondering if any other dopers got this little present in the mail ?

“We’re the phone company. We don’t care. We don’t have to.”
-Lily Tomlin as “Ernestine”

Do you really have a six thousand minutes/month plan??

I’m a tech, not a billing specialist so I can’t address your question. Have you tried calling the friendly & helpful customer service people (800-922-0204) about your billing issue? I’ve never had a mobile phone and every time I think abotu getting one, I hear people griping about their bill. Makes me glad I don’t need one.

Yep, and it isn’t cellular. It is for calling around your own area code but outside your local exchange. Since there isn’t a company that offers a local access number all of my internet access basicaly goes through this. Flat rate of about $20 for up to 100 hours of calling within the western part of my area code (607). It had actually been up to 400 hours until last summer. Now I will have to change to an ATT
regional plan, use a different (minute to minute charge?) from Bell or hope that someone puts in a local access number. I have a feeling many rural homeowners in the surrounding area will have to deal with this in the coming months. It will be interesting to see how much business Bell loses in this move.

Switch to Cellular One. They’re running a promotion this month, you get a phone for $20, and for $25 a month, you get 200 minutes airtime, with unlimited nights and weekends. I * think * it’s not a regional deal.

Now, if only I had a reason to have a cell phone…

A little persistance goes a long way. Announcing:

“I go on guilt trips a couple of time a year. Mom books them for me.” A custom made Wally .sig!

This is not your wireless phone, right? Just your normal landline phone? I’m in the wireless industry and I can take a guess at what’s happened. My company has regional calling plans. When you sign up for one of these, you agree that over 50% of your calls need to be in the home area. If you have more than 50% of your calls outside of your local area, you have to switch to a plan that doesn’t provide regional coverage and you’ll have to pay roaming rates when you’re not local. The reason for this is that we pay other companies for the use of their facilities (towers, etc.) while the customer is roaming. We can offer our customers a flat rate for this, baked into their monthly charge, without added roaming fees if we are making sure they keep that usage to a certain amount (under 50% of their usage). We’re a business and this is how we can make sure we keep making a profit.
I’m guessing that something similar is happening here. You’re probably using more minutes outside of your local area than you agreed to when you signed up for this service (this is probably a ratio, not actual minutes). The phone company is paying other companies so that you can use the other company’s facilities. The ratio is off, based on your calling patterns, and they’re not making as much money on you as they had hoped. They’re having to pay out to the other companies more than you’re paying for your plan.
Check your contract…it should specify exactly how many minutes you can use in the region based on how many minutes you use locally.
Of course, I could be completely wrong about this. Also, Bell Atlantic could be completely wrong and you could have received the letter in error.

We’re getting a local access number by May 15 a local company, Ascent. Unfortunately I have to switch the regional provider for my phone today. So as I screw around switching everything over and waiting for the local number my online time will be much less for the next couple of weeks. Oh well, I’m going to keep AOL until I’m sure Ascent won’t be a problem and that will give me some time to switch e-mail and everything else around.