My (Former) Long Distance Company

One of the major advantages of paying bills by direct debit is that you don’t have to do anything. All of your information is already there…you don’t have to worry about writing a check each month, finding an envelope, buying stamps, or any of the other exciting thrills of bill paying. This is also the major disadvantage of direct debit.

I have to admit, I’m not as fiscally responsible as I should, and I’m not great with balancing my checkbook. I do, however, check my balance, withdrawals and deposits from time to time, and was doing so the other day when I saw that my long distance bill had been paid. I also noticed the bill was about $25. “That’s odd”, I thought to myself, “I didn’t think I knew that many people.” So, after a good deal of hunting, I find my LD company’s website, and manage to log in and get an itemized breakdown of charges. My actual calls come to about $5, various fees, taxes and surcharges come to about $20. I was paying four times as much in fees as I actually was using the service.

Needless to say, they’re not my long distance company anymore, and my new LD company has promised they don’t do that. (I don’t know if I believe them, but…) Admittedly, this isn’t the biggest horror story or tragedy in the world, and I’m not outraged, but I was mildly annoyed, and I figured I’d share.

Amen, brother…AT&T is my nemesis.

I’ve seen letters with new charges to “better align our rates” among residential consumers and I interpreted that to mean to “better align our pockets”. Even if you had NO long distance calls in the month, your bill from AT&T still comes out to $8-$12. Blow me, AT&T.

I called our service carrier Verizon to drop ANY and ALL long distance carrier service, and they told me that I had to have one. Any way around this?

First off, $20 in charges just for doing direct debit? WTF? That’s ludicrous considering it costs much less to process that than it does to process a check by mail.

Nope, not really. You can take your long distance default from your local bell company, and have them lock out all LD dialing if you want though.


P.S.- I just told an AT&T telemarketer to bite me yesterday and she said “I’ll just have to put down here that you’re a rude customer”, and I said oooooooooh, really? why don’t you just put “Do not call” next to it? :wally:

I have never had long distance service at any of the houses I have lived in. When I sign up for local service, the rep asks who I want for my LD service. I simply tell them that I do not want LD service and then none is provided. If I absolutely have to make a long distance call then I go get a calling card or dial the 10-10-XXX number.

Verizon is my local carrier. Maybe it is something local in your state that requires it, but that sounds kinda fishy. I dunno. :confused:

No, I wasn’t clear. The $20 fee isn’t for doing direct debit. It’s a bunch of fees all put together. There’s a $6 service charge, and an $8 UTC fee (I think, I’m not looking at the bill now), and a $2 line connection fee, etc.

Yet another reason to drop the home phone landline. I went exclusively to my cell phone a couple of years ago and haven’t regretted it once. Free long distance and no telemarketers, on top of everything else.

Ah, crap. I was hoping I could just cancel all long distance, and just use dial-up companies. I just got off the phone with AT&T, and told 'em I was gonna cancel.

Ha. I had a fun conversation, too. I called them about the $7.87 charge for “additions & changes to service” that appears every month on my bill.

Operator: That’s mislabled.

Me: Why don’t you change it then?

Operator: Well the local company prints that.

Me: So you’re saying that they just make up whatever they want, and you have no input as to the wording?

Operator: No, we have input.

Me: Well then why don’t you label the charge correctly?

Operator: We’ve had that charge for 6 months.

Me: Seems to me that would be all the more reason to fix it.

Operator: We didn’t know it was labeled wrong.

Me: You mean to tell me that in 6 months, nobody has complained?

The best part was when she said “Didn’t you get the postcard we sent telling you about the fee increase?” As if I read any of the dumptruck full of mail AT&T sends me every week.

And that was after I spent 10 minutes navigating through their voice-response system from hell. I finally started saying “operator” every time the computer voice started speaking. Then the computer voice would say “O.K., but first could you…” OPERATOR. “All right, could you please…” OPERATOR. After saying “operator” about 10 times, it put me through to a real person. It won’t even let you push “0”, you have to SAY it.

Anyway, Captain - hope your new company is OK. Seems like they ALL suck donkey balls.

I’m sorry GaWd, but saying that you can’t get around not having an LD carrier is incorrect.

blowero, you were misinformed when you spoke to Verizon…there is absolutely no reason you can’t drop your LD carrier entirely and have none selected. I know this, because I have Verizon service and no LD carrier. I also work for a phone company, and know for a fact that there is nothing at all to bar your local carrier from just not selecting an LD carrier on your line. If you don’t select an LD carrier, you won’t be able to direct dial an LD call, you’ll need to use a 10-10 number. If you actually want LD restricted on that line so that you can’t make an LD call no matter what you dial, you have to ask for that specifically.

Call Verizon back and ask someone else to remove your LD carrier (as for “no PIC”, pronounced 'pick", on your line). If they give you a hassle, ask for a manager.

Thanks for the correction, Jadis, but YOU try getting the PIC removal done. As for me, I use LD infrequently, but enough that I can stomach paying up to $3.95 a month to use it.

Hopefully, in a month or two I can dump my land line and use my cable phone service…we’ll see.


I gave up AT&T several years ago when they decided that if your bill wasn’t over a certain amount every month, you’d only get billed quarterly. Nice concept, really, only that makes it hard for me to budget - I keep a spreadsheet of my costs over the course of a year, and if I see a big jump or drop that I’m not anticipating, I’m going to have to wonder why.

So when I called them and complained, they just told me that was how it was going to be. So, I switched to Sprint. They were decent - prices weren’t too high. But when I moved here, and BellSouth was doing a LD services that included calls at 0.25/hour within the state, that made sense - even with the monthly fee that they were charging, I ended up saving about $20 a month. 99% of my calls have been in-state LD.

Now, however, I’m moving out of state so I’m going to have to pick another LD carrier. Or go to a cell phone, depending.

:confused: Why is an AT&T telemarketer calling you. They’ve just announced they are no longer pusing residential LD service. Someone didn’t get the memo. You can expect the rates to increase as they try to dump their customers with a brain, and rip off the ones without one.

Captain A you can blame most of those charges on the Bell System breakup, since they are the substitute for the subsidization of local service by long distance that happened in the old days. You can’t blame the LD companies for that or the taxes. Don’t know about the service charge, though.

I used to work for the Bell System, and for AT&T after the breakup. Even after I left during the trivestiture I was pretty loyal (and I knew the problems) but Bob Allen and his even less competent successors have turned a once great company into a piece of crap. :wally

I basically dropped my AT&T LD because my teenager was making LD calls. I told them I wanted to drop it, and they offered me a deal. I pay no charges unless
I use it, and I need a password to access it. Works for me. It’s great for an emergency, and I haven;t used it in 6 months.

Well…I have done it, as I said above. And I got absolutely no argument from the Verizon rep I spoke to. I’m sort of taken aback that you and blowero have met with such resistence, since it’s not that uncommon a request. Weird.

AT&T kept billing me for long-distance calls on my old number for about 8 months after I moved and gave up that number! I had to spend 30 minutes on the phone with some customer service person to straighten it out.

They still sent me a bill for 5 cents the next month.

We don’t have long distance on our landline. We have two cell phones, and are perfectly located so we can call most family members without it being long distance. The ones that aren’t…that’s what a cell phone is for, on nights and weekends.

Call Verizon back. They’re wrong.

I remember a few years back, my Mom spent a good week arguing with AT&T because we don’t use LD, never did, never will, and they were charging her for NOT having LD. Eventually, they got tired of her arguing and dropped all the charges. But I think she spoke with every rep they have, and certainly every higher-up. (I stopped listening to her when she started going on about Ma Bell.)

Heh. I may have a serious rant against my own dear phone company in the next week.

Scratch that. If they decide not to install my DSL service after all, I’ll have a rant against them. If they do decide to install it, I’ll have a much bigger rant against them.


Not to spoil perfectly good rants, but I’ve been using Primus as my LD carrier and I’ve been very pleased. Their rates are low and I haven’t seen any funky charges on my bill. In fact, I just got my first LD bill at my new number - for 38 cents. Two calls. That includes the tax.

They’ve got a website. I have nothing to gain by anyone using their service - just want to be a helpful satisfied customer.
Rant on…

Maybe because this wasn’t AT&T residential? It was at my place of business.


If you ever THINK about going with Cooperative Communicatiooooon, word up: they aren’t and they don’t.