cheaper long distance
My dsl drama caused me to take a closer look at my phone bill. I don’t make many calls, but I am always surprised at how large the charges are. Yes, I over pay for caller id, but more shocking are all the taxes, fees and plan costs associated with AT&T long distance.
Last month, AT&T charged me $16.63 for 60 minutes total of long distance calls. The breakdown is as follows:
2-02 AT&T One Rate (R) Weekends Plan 4.95
2-03 Tax: Fed .41
2-04 CHCF-A, CHCF-B .16
2-05 CA Relay Service and Comm. Devices Funds Surcharge .02
2-06 Pub Util Comm Fee .01
2-07 California Teleconnect Fund Surcharge .01
2-08 Univ Lifeline Tele Serv Sur .10
2-09 Utility Users Tax .24
2-10 California 9-1-1 Surcharge .05
2-11 Universal Connectivity Charge .70
2-12 Carrier cost recovery fee 1.49
2-13 Bill Statement Fee 2.49
and then $6.00 for 60 minutes of calls at the night rate!
Ten cents a minute after paying a $4.95 plan fee is reason enough to switch, but it turns out that many of those extra charges are just that, extra charges AT&T chooses to assess. They are not mandated. The carrier cost recovery fee is a great example, but most obnoxious is the $2.49 bill statement fee – and I don’t even get a paper bill!
So, with more rage as motivation, I went to phonedog to find cheaper long distance. After a little research using phonedogs service comparison tool, I settled on the Pioneer 2.7 cent plan. The appealing features are:
No monthly minimum
No plan fee
No bill statement fee
when you pay your bill by credit card, and 2.7 cent a minute rates 24 hours a day. In-state calls are even cheaper at 2.6 cents a minute. There is a 10.7% USF tax (it is hard to get around Federal taxes), but had Pioneer been my carrier last month my bill would have been 85% less.
You can sign up online, and the switch takes about 5 days to complete. I can’t yet vouch for Pioneer’s line quality or customer service (I’ve only had the sevice since Monday), but I am delighted by the reduction in unnecessary expenses. A quick survey at dinner suggests that many of you might have AT&T long distance plans you are paying too much for for but not using. If so, check out phonedog and dial in some savings.
8/31 update: Pioneer is working out great, and I am excited to learn that we will all be getting a refund on our 2006 Federal tax returns for long distance excise taxes paid. The IRS just announced the program today