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Long Distance Telephone Services
www.trainweb.com/longdistance.html

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!

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TrainWeb's Appeal

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!

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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!

Click Here
for more information.

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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 (steve@trainweb.com). 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.

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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 available.

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 owner.

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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