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Calling Card Rates Not What They Seem

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The News On 6 has a consumer alert for all calling card customers. The prepaid phone cards often offer users a deal. But the News On 6’s Ashli Sims reports one Tulsa customer says that may not be the case anymore. Travis Smith has been dialing long distance with calling cards for years.

"Use these calling cards because I thought it's cheaper than using long distance. And I don't really use long distance that much," said Smith.

Bargain hunting led him to an AT&T prepaid phone card plus. One-thousand minutes for about $34, or so he thought. Smith thought he had 855 minutes on his card, but he actually had only 171.

"Yeah, I was upset. I mean, I felt like I was being ripped off, because it says a 1,000 minutes on the card, and that's clearly not what it was," said Smith.

It turns out the rates aren't what they seem. If you check the fine print on the card and the back of the package, it tells you there are different rates for in-state calls. And if you're calling long distance from Oklahoma to Oklahoma, every minute on the phone costs you five minutes on your card.

We checked with AT&T and they say the blame lies not with them, but the Federal Communications Commission. The FCC changed the rules on calling cards last June.

Now, federal and state fees apply. AT&T and all other calling card companies now have to pay into a system called the Universal Service Fund, which helps provide affordable phone service to rural areas. And they're passing along the extra charge to consumers, and that has Travis Smith hanging up on calling cards.

"Why would you want to pay for 1,000 minutes when you're only getting 200 minutes?” said Smith. “So I probably won't use cards anymore after I use this one up."

Believe it or not, Oklahoma doesn't have the worst rate change. In four states, if you talk for one minute, you're charged for eight.

Watch the video: Read The Fine Print, Customers Feel Slighted By Calling Card Policies
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