ValkingBlog: Ma Bell & my daughter or "How AT&T cheats my kid"


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Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Ma Bell & my daughter or "How AT&T cheats my kid"

How AT&T cheats my kid
How AT&T cheats my kid.
Well it's a simple case of the big kid on the block bullying the little ones. But in this case it's my little one and I'm not too happy about it. It's all about phone cards and my 14 year old daughter. And being cheated by AT&T. So somewhere along the line my kiddo's found a friend in England. A kid her age and they chat thru the internet and all the rest. Well aparently they talk on the phone too, and therein lies the phone cards. Kiddo tells me she's spending hard earned & won cash on phone cards at the post office and calling her friend. (At this point I tell you we've already discussed online predators and fake internet people and all the rest...) The cards are something like 100 or 150 minute cards and after a minute surcharge to connect they last something like 90 minutes a call. Well hey, we can do better Daddy thinks, let's go to Wal-Mart and save kiddo some money. (And teach her a lesson in comparison shopping, Daddies are like that, wanting the little girls to grow up smart...) Well the lesson ended up not being what Daddy thought it would be. So we go to Wal-Mart and while cruising the isles we find a few things we need (Hotwheels for example, always a kid at heart) and eventually we run across phone cards. Well there's a varied selection but AT&T cards seem to dominate (heck we know & trust AT&T, let's go with them) so we check the numbers. 100 minute cards are under $10, 300 minute cards are something like $18, but wait there's a 500 minute card for around $25. What a bargain! We were looking to spend ten bucks but hey five times the minutes for 2.5 the money, let's get the 500 minute card. So off we roll, I'm a hero to kiddo, thank-you's flow like wine, life is good. Kiddo is excited and can't wait to drop on her friend in merry ole England the good fortune in phone card shopping and minutes for teen talk. Well fast forward a few days and I'm talking to kiddo. She's not happy and explains to me that her card lasted 38 minutes. Now I'm not happy. 38 minutes! Seems that calling England burns minutes at a rate of 13 to 1 in the AT&T universe. Now when I bought that card I figured say 400 minutes of use after surcharges compared to the United States Postal Service cards, would seem reasonable, right? Nope. That's not the deal. In the AT&T universe, might I also add now, the Wal-Mart universe as they're on the deal too : Wal-Mart AT&T cards things go alot faster. A minute's really 4.61 seconds. The funny thing is even the line on that page "no hidden surcharges*" the funny thing's the asterisk in the "no hidden" they pretty clearly mention the connect penalty, but don't mention what the variable rate is for the different countries. Sounds hidden to me. Guess kiddo needs to find a less valuable friend in some country that it's cheaper to talk to. Kind of like let's price shop the countries and see who's the best value. Where that could go is priceless, would a friend in the Ukraine be a better value? Really though for the Wal-MArt & AT&T system, kiddo could have 13 US friends for the cost of the English one. Of course I have a friend or two that are English & they're very cool, but to have pay 13 times the price to talk to them, wowsers. Why not just charge that for the English wherever they are? English friend in Florida? Minutes burn at 13:1 ratio. Just think if the cell phone people got in on this. No wonder the Internet's so cool. Email, instant messaging, chatroom, same price everywhere. International telephone, heck with that. I'm starting to get pretty tired of all the companies that make their business cheating one customer at a time. Perhaps they just count on that one time cheating. Like P.T.Barnum said, "There's a sucker born every minute." AT&T got us this time, Wal-Mart shared in the fun. I won't be in a rush to have them cheat us again. Time to look for other places to spend our money.

Time for AT&T and Wal-Mart to do the right thing.


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