Long Distance Telephone Services
Low cost long distance telephone services, phone calling cards
and other discount communications services.
The Sales Pitch
Ever since the end of the AT&T monopoly on long distance telephone
services, I've been in charge of picking the long distance carrier for a
company with thousands of dollars in telephone bills each month. Over
time, competition became more intense and rates have come way down!
I've learned a lot about what to look for when picking a long distance
carrier. If you've heard the sales pitches from the long distance companies
and are confused how they can all claim to have the lower long distance
rates, you certainly aren't alone in your state of confusion!
Few of these companies are lying to you. They are just marketing a certain
aspect of their service, that if you use it in the way they described it,
at the time they described, and for the duration as explained, then you
will probably achieve the lower cost for that particular call. But watch
out for the cost of every other call that doesn't fit the profile of the
advertised "lower cost" service!
I have no patience for all the complexities and exceptions of all these
long distance carriers. What I always seek is a service where, if I know
how many minutes I was on the phone, then I know what it cost me. And it
had better be the best rate available! I don't want to have to pull out
a calendar, or a clock, or a calculator, or my service agreement, or add
up the volume of all the calls made over the last month, in order to
figure out how much my call just cost!
Here are the factors to consider which you will seldom hear in the ads of
major long distance carriers: (a) Is there a monthly charge or monthly
minimum usage? (b) Are the calls billed in 6 second or full minute
increments? (c) Is there a minimum charge per call? Most companies have
either an 18 second, full minute, or 3 minute minimum charge per call.
One of the worst deals around that you will see advertised on television
quite often is the one that says you will be charged only $1 for the first
10 or 20 minutes of the call and then just 10 cents or even as low as 5
cents for each minute after that. Why is this such a bad deal? The providers
know that the average call is well under 10 minutes. Thus, they will end up
getting $1 for a lot of 3 and 4 minute calls. That calculates to at least
25 cents per minute! If you do manage to stay on the phone for the full
20 minutes for $1, then you have been charged 5 cents per minute. There are
a number of long distance companies that will charge you 5 cents per minute
even if you are only on the phone for a few minutes. You don't have pay a
minimum of $1 per call to get a rate as low as 5 cents per minute!
When you click above or below for more information, you will be taken to
a web page that will offer you a choice of discount long distance carriers.
Depending on your usage pattern, the carrier that is the best for one
person might not be the best for another person. You can pick the carrier
that best suits your needs.
For all my clients, for my own company, and for my home usage, I have
chosen to go with Unitel. The reason for this is that they
offer a flat 4.9 cents per minute rate throughout the United States,
24 hours per day, 7 days per week. In most cases, long distance calls made
within your own state are even less. If I pick up the phone and make a
10 minute call, I know it will cost me 49 cents. Simple!
Are there any features I don't like about this plan? Yes. But I think the
advantages of the Unitel plan far outweigh the disadvantages. One thing I don't
like is that they bill in full minute increments and not 6 second increments.
Thus, considering those calls that get rounded up to the next minute, your
average rate will be closer to 6 cents per minute. That is still lower than what
almost all other carriers charge.
The bottom line for me is that I know the cost of the call will be no more
than 4.9 cents times the number of minutes I'm on the phone. If another
company wants my business, they will have to quote me a rate lower than
that which applies 24 hours per day, 7 days per week, with no gotchas!
If this rate, or any of the plans offered here, provide a better rate
than what you are currently paying for long distance services, then I'm
going to appeal to you from another direction to switch carriers.
We are involved in a number of activities which provide the financial
support to offer you the services and information provided by TrainWeb.
This is one of them! If you switch to any of the long distance carriers
listed via the below link, then TrainWeb will receive a commission on
every long distance call that you make. That certainly helps support our
operations and web services to you!
Generate Income Promoting Long Distance Services
On a related topic, if you are interested in generating income for
yourself, your rail organization, or just to help fund your own personal
rail interests, you can generate an income from promoting these same
long distance services. If you or your non-profit organization has a web
site that is hosted free on the TrainWeb server, participating in this
promotion of long-distance offer is allowed on your web site.
Click on the link below. After you are familiar
with the services offered, then click on "Business Opportunities" on
that page. When you click on the link below, not only will you be linked to
information on Unitel, but also information on a number of long
distance providers as well as information on calling-cards and even
prepaid phone cards. A major reason I like dealing with this particular
organization is that they offer a diversity of phone services from which
you can chose or switch between, or even drop out of completely any time
that you wish!
for more information.
Questions About These Offers & Services
Do you have a question about the offers of long distance services?
Have you subscribed to one of the services and run into a problem getting it turned on?
Do you have a question about your bill or wish to dispute a charge on your bill?
If you answered "Yes" to any of those questions, then you have come to the wrong place!
I am sorry to say, but I have no more idea about the answers to those questions than you have!
TrainWeb has a very simple relationship to the company promoting these long distance services:
(1) we provide a link to their web page where you can read all the options and decide if one
will work for you, and (2) we liked one of the offerings (Unitel) and have switched our own
business and home phones to it. Beyond becoming a client ourselves and providing a link so you
can see if you want to become a client, we have no other relationship or contact with the
long distance companies. Although the page that you click to looks like it was designed by
TrainWeb, it was not. The page was automatically generated and is automatically maintained
by the company promoting the long distance services. Although the web page seems to encourage
you to send e-mail to me with any questions that you have, I don't have any information
beyond what is posted to the web.
If you have a billing problem, you should contact the number on your phone bill. I have found
that most long distance companies are very cooperative and prompt in fixing billing problems.
If you are having a problem getting your long distance phone service switched to the new
company and it has been more than 3 weeks since you put in your request, then you should
probably just submit your request again. However, you might still run into problems getting
the service started. Click here to read more about the problems that
you can run into when switching long distance carriers.
If you have questions about the different long distance offerings, try reviewing the information
on the web page carefully. If that doesn't provide an answer for you, then see if there is an
e-mail address associated with the offer OTHER THAN MY E-MAIL ADDRESS (firstname.lastname@example.org).
That would be your best source for an answer. I don't know anything about any of the offerings
other than what is listed on the web pages.
The Truth Between The Lines
Here is the truth behind everything: the state of long distance services in this country is
a mess! Not the service itself. The quality of your phone calls will be quite high with
almost any service that you select. What is a mess is trying to switch your long distance
service to another company.
Sometimes, the switch will go like clockwork. Other times, the switch will never happen!
There are a lot of comflex reason behind this problem and I'll try to review some of them.
Here is something really important: In many cases when you switch long distance carriers,
your old carrier may continue to bill you! They may not stop billing you until you notify
them IN WRITING that they are no longer your long distance carrier. Cancellation of service
from your old provider is seldom ever automatic, even though only one carrier can provide
"dial 1" long distance to your phone at a time. Call you long distance carrier on the phone
and ask them where you should send your cancellation letter. Do not just write on your
phone bill nor enclose a letter with your phone bill. The people that process phone payments
and the people that handle cancellations are two different sets of people. The people
processing your payment will probably ignore what you wrote and will file or throw away any
enclosed letters. In either case, the bills will keep coming for a service that they are
not providing to you! Make sure you keep copies of everything you send to your old long
distance provider and make notes of any phone calls you make to them (including the date and
time that you called). We have learned about all of these things the hard way!
You may wonder what your old carrier will bill you if you are no longer using their long
distance service. If your old carrier had a minimum monthly charge, especially if you did
not meet certain minimum monthly usage requirements, they will bill that to you. They will
also bill certain taxes to you. We have also seen previous long distance carriers bill people
for the exact same phone calls billed by their new long distance carrier, but at a different
per minute rate!
Here is more food for thought: You might be changing long-distance companies and billing
plans, but you might not really be switching to a different provider. How is that? There
are only a few companies that actually have there own wires. You have probably heard of
most of them. There used to be four big companies: AT&T, MCI, Sprint and Worldcom. Some
of these have merged together so that there are now even less companies with their own wires.
So, you might wonder why you see so many companies offering long-distance services.
99% of the offers that you hear are from companies reselling time on the wires of the few
companies that have their own wires.
Worldcom is probably one of the biggest owners of real wires that sells through many other
companies. You will find that subscribing to long distances services through a reseller is
almost always less expensive than going direct to the companies that own the wires. The
resellers have many different relationships with the companies that own the wires. Some
get very low rates by guaranteeing huge monthly minimum purchases of time from the wire
owners and then pass along part of that discount rate to end customers like you. Other
companies will lease lines from the wire owners and set up their own national long distance
network using the leased lines. There are many other ways of reselling long distance services
from the wire owners, but the end result is usually that you can get a much better rate from
the resellers than directly from the wire owners.
Let us say that the wire owner is company W. Let us also say that your current provider is
company P who resells for company W. What happens if you wish to change to company U who
also resells for company W? That can sometimes be a problem! When you originally switched to
company P, you were probably give a phone number to call which you were told would say that
your long distance carrier is W once the switch was finished. But if you switch to company U,
your long distance carrier will still be W. How can you tell if you have been switched over
by calling that phone number? You can't! For either company, you will be told that your long
distance carrier is W !
It gets worse than that. Sometimes when you apply to switch your long distance service from
company P to company U, the wire owner W will not cooperate. That is because you are not
really switching providers. You are trying to switch from wire owner W to wire owner W, which
isn't a change at all! What you are really trying to do is to switch from "reseller" P to
"reseller" U. That is not really the same as switching "dial 1" providers. Your "dial 1"
provider remains wire owner W. Sometimes, W will want you to get permission from your old
long distance reseller before they will switch you to the new one. Sometimes, company W
doesn't want to help you at all. Company W will insist that you must first cancel with P
before you can submit a switch to company U. That means you will be without long distance
service at all after P terminates your service. Basically, company W is stating that they
don't even want to see a request from company U until your service with company P has ended!
We've been through all of this before too! I've actually oversimplified how it all works as
there are even more companies involved than just the ones that I have mentioned. So, now you
get some idea about what I mean about the state of long distance service in this country
being a mess! You can avoid the mess if you just stick with one of the major long distance
providers, as long as you don't mind paying double or more the lowest per minute charges
If you are lucky and your current provider is not the same as the one you wish to switch to,
then everything will probably go smoothly. If you are currently with AT&T, then you will
probably not have a problem switching to any of the resellers. If you are already with a
reseller, then it is hard to tell if you will run into any problems switching to another
reseller. In most cases, if the switch doesn't work, it is just as though you never
submitted the paperwork to switch. Nobody contacts you and you continue receiving the same
old bills from your same old long distance provider at the same old rates. Sometimes, I've
been very tempted to switch from my current long distance provider to the higher rates of
AT&T and then back to a new long distance provider. That might introduce a delay, but it
would probably bypass the problems of switching between two resellers of the same wire
The last time that I checked, AT&T was offering a rate of 7 cents per minute around the
clock to residential users (not businesses). The provider that I like, Unitel, has a rate
of 4.9 cents per minute around the clock to homes and businesses. There is no monthly
charge from Unitel, but I believe there is a monthly fee from AT&T.
Personally, I think the savings is worth the effort to switch to the lower cost providers.
You will have to decide for yourself. Please do click on the "Plans and Prices" link below
to check out what is available. You will find that both pre-paid and regular discount
telephone calling cards are offered as well as a number of other discount services.
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