2000 Long Distance Rates Survey

 

Table of Contents

PLEASE NOTE: This survey is not current, and should be used only as a guide. For up-to-date rate information, we suggest that you contact long distance companies directly.

A 10-year report card : Much higher long distance rates, better calling plans

by Linda Sherry

Consumer Action (CA) has for years advised long distance users to enroll in a discount calling plan to avoid their carriers' most expensive "basic" long distance rates. The non-profit consumer group's new 2000 Long Distance Survey finds that advice to be especially imperative now because of sharp basic rate increases over the last decade, especially by AT&T and MCI-WorldCom.

CA found that since 1991, basic rates for its surveyed "basket" of calls have increased by 27%-39%, depending on the carrier. Using the same four interstate calls made in each of the standard rate periods, CA for years has tracked the basic rates charged by AT&T, MCI and Sprint.

CA found that with the right calling plan, consumers can save 47%-60% or more on state-to-state long distance calls. Customers of the Big Three long distance carriers—AT&T, MCI-WorldCom and Sprint—who do not select a calling plan are charged these high basic per-minute rates:

 
A T & T  
Weekdays, 7 a.m.-7p.m. 29.5¢
Weekday evenings 22.5¢
Weekends 14.5¢
MCI-WorldCom  
Weekdays, 7 a.m.-7p.m. 30¢
Weekday evenings, Saturday 22¢
Sunday 10¢
Sprint  
Weekdays 30¢
Weekends 10¢

Little public awareness

CA Executive Director Ken McEldowney noted that since there are no requirements to notify consumers about basic rate increases, these increases have taken place with little public awareness.

"Sometimes, the carriers run little ads in the newspapers about rate increases, and a few states require that customers be notified of intrastate rate increases, but on the federal level there is no mandatory disclosure required," noted McEldowney. "We believe that the Federal Communications Commission should require these companies to notify their customers directly about rate increases at least 15 days in advance, as banks and credit card companies must do."

The consumer group also found that potential savings from the Big Three's best calling plans have increased 47%-60%, depending on the carrier. In 1997, Consumer Action's survey showed that the maximum calling plan savings on its basket of calls was 31% for the three largest carriers.

Calling plans pay

"While basic rates have increased dramatically in 10 years, the savings from calling plans have skyrocketed," said McEldowney. "More than ever, it pays to have the right calling plan."

CA has been tracking long distance rates for almost two decades. The calling plans available prior to 1991 provided discounts only on calls in a specific time period, such as calls made at night or on weekends, or on bills of $25 or more. Calling plan savings were limited or non-existent on lower bills.

In 1992, however, MCI introduced its "Friends and Family" plan, which gave discounts when you talked to people who were part of your MCI calling circle. This sparked competition among carriers, leading eventually to the two-rate "Sprint-Sense" calling plan popularized by Sprint and the one-rate plans that are now widely offered.

In 1999, CA found that all the standard calling plans of market leaders AT&T, MCI and Sprint had monthly fees and/or minimum spending requirements. This has changed little in 2000, although AT&T does offer a few plans without fees or minimums: a 16¢-per-minute flat rate plan called "One Rate Basic" and two special "10¢ Basic Plans" offering 10¢ per minute on Saturdays or Sundays.

This year, Consumer Action surveyed 50 calling plans from 18 carriers. Of those plans, 32 are one-rate plans that charge one flat per-minute rate on all calls, no matter what time or day of the week it is.

To help people compare per-minute interstate long distance rates at a glance, CA designed a chart showing the lowest rates available on calls made in two rate periods—"Daytime" and "Evening, Night and Weekend." The interstate calling plans found by Consumer Action this year fall into five categories:

  • Plans with no fees or minimums offering Peak (daytime) per-minute rates of 8.9¢ (Pac-West Telecomm and Incomnet) to 25¢ (Working Assets) and Off-Peak (evening, night and weekend) per-minute rates of 8.9¢ Pac-West Telecomm and Incomnet) to 16¢ (AT&T).
  • Plans with monthly spending minimums of $3 (Talk.com and Verizon) to $5 (MCI-WorldCom) offering per-minute Peak rates of 9¢ (MCI-World-Com and Talk.com) to 15¢ (AT&T) and Off-Peak rates of 4.9¢ (Matrix) to 15¢ (AT&T).
  • Plans with monthly fees of $1.95 (GTC Telecom) to $8.95 (AT&T and Sprint) offering per-minute Peak rates of 4.9¢ (Capsule Communications) to 10¢ (Verizon) and Off-Peak rates of 3¢ (Excel) to 9¢ (Qwest).
  • Plans that require online sign-up or credit card billing. Of these plans, three have no fees or minimums (Frontier, Net2Phone and Verizon), two have monthly spending requirements of $5 (AT&T and MCI-World-Com) and two have monthly fees of $4.95 (GTC Telecom and Qwest). Peak per-minute rates on these plans range from 5¢ (Qwest) to 9¢ (AT&T, MCI-WorldCom and Verizon). Off-Peak per minute rates range from 5¢ (AT&T, MCI-World-Com and Qwest) to 9¢ (Verizon). One company, Net2Phone, is offering free computer- initiated calls with the purchase of a $9.95 headset.
  • "Prepaid" calling plans that allow consumers to pay for long distance phone time in advance. Sprint offers three such plans, with monthly fees ranging from $20 to $40 for 1,000 minutes. SBC, currently only available in Texas, offers Block of Time—300 minutes for $18 per month. Qwest has the "1500 Plan," with 1,500 minutes for $24.95 for a month's worth of evening and weekend calls. Verizon offers SmartTouch, allowing callers to purchase as much or as little time as they want, when they need it.

Calling card calls : User beware

by Linda Sherry

You're away from home and you need to make a call. Pull out that trusty calling card. But before you dial, make sure you find out how much the call will set you back. Consumer Action found that the cost of a 10-minute calling card call placed in the daytime from Chicago to Los Angeles has increased dramatically in the past decade.

In 1991, AT&T charged $3.30 for the call, MCI $3.20 and Sprint $3.24. In 2000, the same call through AT&T is $10.15 (a 208% increase), MCI-WorldCom, $8.75 (a 173% increase) and Sprint, $10.15 (a 213% increase).

Nowadays most companies offer discount plans for calling card users. Many of the plans allow you to avoid the standard per-call surcharge common with calling cards. (For instance, the price of the calls noted above include surcharges of $1.25.)

AT&T and Sprint have calling card plans with a $1 monthly fee offering an interstate per-minute rate of 25¢. MCI-WorldCom will put customers who ask on a 15¢ per minute calling card plan with a $2 monthly fee. (Most carriers charge an additional per-call "compensation charge" of about 30¢ when you dial from a pay phone.)

How low can rates go? Try free long distance calls

by Delicia Hegwood

The cost for state-to-state long distance calls keeps getting lower and lower, begging the question: Just how low can rates go? Well, for long distance callers with an IBM-compatible computer, it just hit rock bottom—the calls are free! Net2Phone offers free calls anywhere in the United States and Canada.

Another company, Broadpoint Communications, is giving away long distance calls, but they're not exactly free. You have to listen to targeted ads to earn talk time.

PC to PC - or phone

Net2Phone Inc., a Hackensack, N.J.-based carrier specializing n Internet telephony, allows users to make free or low cost longdistance calls over the Internet from personal computers. The party you are calling can use a PC or a telephone to take your call. The company accounts for 30 per cent of the Internet telephony market. In mid-August, AT&T acquired a one-third interest Net2Phone or approximately $1.4 billion.

Net2Phone is available only for PCs with at least a 28.8K modem and Windows 95 or higher, but the company plans to offer service to Mac users by the end of the year.

Critics say that Internet-based calls aren't as clear as calls on traditional phone lines, and may have static similar to cellular phone calls. This is most noticeable during peak Internet usage times, such as early evening.

The company suggests buying its headset for clearer calls, but the service works with your computer's microphone and speakers as well. However, you can't run any other computer applications while you call.

Net2Phone seems to be meeting any critics head on: its customer base numbers more than one million worldwide.

Ads pay for services

How can Net2Phone afford to carry free long distance calls? Net2Phone earns revenue from running ads on its site. When it carries calls, Net2Phone keeps its expenses low because it bypasses much of the traditional phone network by routing calls via the Internet.

Collect calls : Reach out and stiff someone

by Linda Sherry

Collect calls were not a bargain 10 years ago, but in 2000 you can really hurt someone's pocketbook if you don't know what you're doing when you dial a collect call. Consumer Action's new survey of long distance phone rates found that the cost of a station-to-station, operator-assisted collect call is about three times more than in 1991 if you dial through AT&T or Sprint. MCI's rates for the call have more than doubled.

Comparing a 10-minute daytime interstate call from Chicago to Los Angeles, the organization found that the way you dial a collect call can have a big impact on its cost.

Since 1996, the Big Three carriers have offered toll-free access numbers as a way to make collect calls that cost much less than dialing "0" and having the operator place the call. While using these numbers reduces the cost, they still cost far more than collect calls in 1991. Be sure to ask the operator or the carriers' customer service department for the rate before you place a collect call.

You can avoid collect calls altogether by using your calling card, prepaid phone cards or dialing with coins. Your family and friends may be happier to hear your voice.

Collect calls are no bargain

 
Carrier: AT&T MCI-WorldCom Sprint
1991 Cost: $4.23 $4.15 $4.14
2000 Operator-Assisted Cost: $14.40 $10.45 $14.40
% Increase: 240% 152% 248%
Toll-free Cost: (800) CALLATT
$6.99
(800) COLLECT
$6.99
(800) 2SPRINT
$7.45
% Increase: 65% 68% 80%

Interstate Calling Plans

by Linda Sherry

(Note: All long distance phone rates listed here are for interstate long distance calls. Inquire about rates in your state. In-state rates vary by state.)

PLEASE NOTE: This survey is not current, and should be used only as a guide. For up-to-date rate information, we suggest that you contact long distance companies directly.


A T & T • (800) 222-0300


Calling plan : One Rate Basic

  • Type : One-rate plan
  • Monthly fee : None
  • Rate periods included : All
  • Plan description : Calls are 16¢ per minute.

Calling plan : One Rate

  • Type : One-rate plan
  • Monthly fee : None. $5 monthly minimum usage requirement.
  • Rate periods included : All
  • Plan description : Calls are 15¢ per minute.

Calling plan : 5¢ Evening Plan

  • Type : Two-rate, online plan
  • Monthly fee : None. $5 monthly minimum requirement.
  • Rate periods included : Daytime (7 a.m.-7 p.m.) and Evening (all other times).
  • Plan description : Online bills and automatic payments to a credit card are required. Daytime calls are 9¢ per minute; evening calls are 5¢ per minute.

Calling plan : One Rate 5¢ Plan

  • Type : One-rate plan
  • Monthly fee : $8.95. The monthly fee is reduced to $7.95 with online billing. For customers who also choose AT&T as their local toll carrier, the fee is $6.95.
  • Rate periods included : All
  • Plan description : Calls are 5¢ per minute.

Calling plan : One Rate 7¢ Plan

  • Type : One-rate plan
  • Monthly fee : $5.95. The monthly fee is reduced to $4.95 with online billing. For customers who also choose AT&T as their local toll carrier, the fee is $3.95.
  • Rate periods included : All
  • Plan description : Calls are 7¢ per minute.

CAPSULE COMMUNICATIONS • (800) 972-0600


Calling plan : N-Compass LD

  • Type : One-rate plan
  • Monthly fee : None. Bills of less than $20 are subject to a $1.99 charge.
  • Rate periods included : All
  • Plan description : Calls are 6¢ per minute. Calls are billed in six-second increments.

Calling plan : Five Pennies LD

  • Type : One-rate plan
  • Monthly fee : None. Bills of less than $20 are subject to a $1.99 charge.
  • Rate periods included : All
  • Plan description : Calls are 4.9¢ per minute. Calls are billed in 30-second increments, after the first minute.

EXCEL • (800) 875-9235


Calling plan : Simply 7¢

  • Type : One-rate plan
  • Monthly fee : $4.95
  • Rate periods included : All
  • Plan description : Calls are 7¢ per minute.

Calling plan : Three Penny Plan

  • Type : Two-rate plan
  • Monthly fee : $5.95
  • Rate periods included : Peak (Monday-Sunday, 7 a.m.-7 p.m.) and Off-Peak (all other times).
  • Plan description : Peak calls are 10¢ per minute and Off-Peak interstate calls, 3¢ per minute.

EXPRESS TEL /TEL AMERICA • (800) 571-7777 / (800) 748-4001


(Arizona, California, Nevada and Utah only)

Calling plan : Residential Plan

  • Type : One-rate plan
  • Monthly fee : None
  • Rate periods included : All
  • Plan description : Calls are 11.5¢ per minute. (Calls to Alaska and Hawaii are 19¢ per minute.)

FRONTIER/GLOBAL CROSSINGS • (800) 482-4848


Calling plan : Websaver

  • Type : One-rate plan
  • Monthly fee : None
  • Rate periods included : All
  • Plan description : Calls are 8¢ per minute. Automatic credit card billing and online statement required.

Calling plan : Frontier One

  • Type : One-rate plan
  • Monthly fee : None
  • Rate periods included : All
  • Plan description : Calls are 14¢ per minute.

Calling plan : Home Connections

  • Type : Two-rate plan
  • Monthly fee : None
  • Rate periods included : Peak (Monday-Friday, 7 a.m.-7 p.m.) and Off-Peak (all other times, including major holidays).
  • Plan description : Peak calls are 25¢ per minute and Off-Peak, 10¢.

Calling plan : Exact Rate

  • Type : One-rate, online plan
  • Monthly fee : $3.99. Reduced to $1.99 with online billing.
  • Rate periods included : All
  • Plan description : Calls are 7¢ per minute.

GTC TELECOM • (800) 486-4030


Calling plan : 5¢ Long Distance

  • Type : Two-rate plan
  • Monthly fee : $1.95 (This fee will be waived if you agree to online billing.)
  • Rate periods included : All
  • Plan description : Calls between continental states are 5¢ per minute. Hawaii and Alaska: 15¢ per minute.

Calling plan : FreeNet

  • Type : One-rate, online plan
  • Monthly fee : $4.95
  • Rate periods included : All
  • Plan description : Online billing required. Calls are 7.9¢ per minute. Includes unlimited dial-up Internet access.

IDT • (888) 271-0503


Calling plan : 5¢ Long Distance

  • Type : One-rate plan
  • Monthly fee : $3.95
  • Rate periods included : All
  • Plan description : Calls are 5¢ per minute. Billed in six-second increments.

INCOMNET • (877) 225-5603


Calling plan : I Plus

  • Type : One-rate plan
  • Monthly fee : None
  • Rate periods included : All
  • Plan description : Calls are 8.9¢ per minute.

Calling plan : I Preferred

  • Type : One-rate plan
  • Monthly fee : $4.95
  • Rate periods included : All
  • Plan description : Calls are 5.9¢ per minute.

MATRIX • (800) 282-0242


Calling plan : Matrix Elite

  • Type : One-rate plan
  • Monthly fee : None. $3.76 monthly minimum usage requirement.
  • Rate periods included : All
  • Plan description : Calls are 9.9¢ per minute.

Calling plan : Matrix Plus

  • Type : One-rate plan
  • Monthly fee : $4.95
  • Rate periods included : All
  • Plan description : Calls are 8.9¢ per minute.

Calling plan : Premier Residential

  • Type : Two-rate plan
  • Monthly fee : None. This plan has a $4.50 monthly minimum usage requirement.
  • Rate periods included : Peak (Monday-Friday, 6 a.m.-7 p.m.) and Off-Peak (all other times).
  • Plan description : Peak calls are 25¢ per minute and Off-Peak, 4.9¢.

MCI - Worldcom • (800) 444-3333


Calling plan : One Net Savings

  • Type : Two-rate plan, online billing
  • Monthly fee : None. $5 monthly minimum spending requirement.
  • Rate periods included : Peak (Monday-Friday) and Off-Peak (weekends).
  • Plan description : Peak calls are 9¢ per minute and Off-Peak, 5¢. Automatic credit card billing and online bills required.

Calling plan : Weekends

  • Type : Two-rate plan
  • Monthly fee : $5.95
  • Rate periods included : Peak (weekdays) and Off-Peak (weekends).
  • Plan description : Peak calls are 7¢ per minute and Off-Peak, 5¢.

Calling plan : 7¢ Anytime

  • Type : One-rate plan
  • Monthly fee : $3.95
  • Rate periods included : All
  • Plan description : Calls are 7¢ per minute.

Calling plan : 9¢ Anytime

  • Type : One-rate plan
  • Monthly fee : None. This plan has a $5 monthly minimum spending requirement.
  • Rate periods included : All
  • Plan description : Calls are 9¢ per minute.

NET2PHONE • (800) 265-7267


Calling plan : Internet Calling

  • Type : Internet-based calling
  • Monthly fee : None
  • Rate periods included : All
  • Plan description : Customers pay a onetime fee of $9.95 for headset and software. Calls are made through your personal computer and are free.

PAC-WEST TELECOMM • (800) 390-1189


(For California and Nevada residents)

Calling plan : One Rate

  • Type : One-rate plan
  • Monthly fee : None
  • Rate periods included : All
  • Plan description : Calls are 8.9¢ per minute. (The company's Promotional Plan offers a 7.9¢ per minute rate through Oct. 31, 2000.)

QWEST • (800) 860-2255


(Due to Qwest's merger with local phone company U.S. West, new service is not available in AZ, CO, IA, ID, MN, MT, ND, NE, NM, OR, SD, UT, WA and WY.)

Calling plan : E-ferral

  • Type : One-rate plan, online billing
  • Monthly fee : $4.95 with traditional billing. None with online billing.
  • Rate periods included : All
  • Plan description : Calls are 5¢ per minute. Charges are automatically billed to your credit/debit card with online billing. $10 credit given for each new customer you refer.

Calling plan : Qwest Countdown

  • Type : Two-rate plan
  • Monthly fee : $4.95
  • Rate periods included : Peak (Mondays-Fridays) and Off-Peak (Weekends).
  • Plan description : Peak calls are 9¢ per minute. Every three months, the Peak rate is reduced by a half-cent until reaching 5¢. Off-Peak calls are 5¢.

Calling plan : 1500 Calling Plan

  • Type : Two-rate plan
  • Monthly fee : $24.95
  • Rate periods included : All
  • Plan description : Includes 1,500 minutes (25 hours) of evening and weekend calls each month (1.7¢ per minute). Weekday calls and additional weekend calls are 10¢ per minute.

Calling plan : One Rate

  • Type : One-rate plan
  • Monthly fee : None
  • Rate periods included : All
  • Plan description : Calls are 15¢ per minute.

Southwestern Bell • (800) 237-1984


(Pending government approval to offer long distance elsewhere in the U.S., SBC is providing long distance service in Texas only.)

Calling plan : Southwestern Bell Long Distance

  • Type : One-rate plan
  • Monthly fee : None
  • Rate periods included : All
  • Plan description : Calls are 9¢ per minute.

Calling plan : SBC Block of Time

  • Type : Prepaid plan
  • Monthly fee : $18
  • Rate periods included : All
  • Plan description : Includes 300 minutes of interstate (or in-state Texas) calls. Additional calls are 6¢ per minute.

Sprint • (800) 746-3767


Calling plan : Sprint Nickel AnyTime

  • Type : One-rate plan
  • Monthly fee : $8.95
  • Rate periods included : All
  • Plan description : Calls are 5¢ per minute.

Calling plan : Sprint Nickel Nights

  • Type : Two-rate plan
  • Monthly fee : $5.95
  • Rate periods included : Peak (7 a.m.-7 p.m.) and Off-Peak (all other times).
  • Plan description : Peak calls are 10¢ per minute and Off-Peak, 5¢.

Calling plan : Sprint 1000 AnyTime

  • Type : One-rate plan
  • Monthly fee : $40
  • Rate periods included : All
  • Plan description : Includes 1,000 minutes (16+ hours) of calls per month. Additional calls are 10¢ per minute.

Calling plan : Sprint 1000 Nights

  • Type : One-rate plan
  • Monthly fee : $20
  • Rate periods included : Peak (7 a.m.-7 p.m.) and Off-Peak (7 p.m.-7 a.m.).
  • Plan description : Includes 1,000 minutes (16+ hours) of Off-Peak calls per month (2¢ per minute). Daytime calls and additional evening calls are 10¢ per minute.

Calling plan : Sprint 1000 Weekends

  • Type : Two-rate plan
  • Monthly fee : $20
  • Rate periods included : Peak (Mondays-Fridays) and Off-Peak (weekends).
  • Plan description : Includes 1,000 minutes (16+ hours) of weekend minutes per month. Additional weekend minutes are 5¢. Weekday calls are 10¢ per minute.

TALK.COM • (877) 482-5599


Calling plan : 5¢ Anytime

  • Type : One-rate plan
  • Monthly fee : $5.95
  • Rate periods included : All
  • Plan description : Calls are 5¢ per minute.

Calling plan : 9¢ Anytime

  • Type : One-rate plan
  • Monthly fee : None. $3 monthly minimum usage requirement.
  • Rate periods included : All
  • Plan description : Calls are 9¢ per minute.

GTE and VERIZON • (888) 909-0666


(At press time, Verizon cannot provide long distance service in AK, CT, DE, DC, GA, ME, MD, MA, NH, NJ, PA, RI, VT, VA and WV.)

Calling plan : E-Values

  • Type : Two rate plan. Online sign-up.
  • Monthly fee : None
  • Rate periods included : Weekdays (Monday-Friday) and Weekends (Saturday and Sunday).
  • Plan description : Weekday calls are billed at 9¢ per minute. Weekend calls are 5¢.

Calling plan : Timeless

  • Type : One-rate plan
  • Monthly fee : None
  • Rate periods included : All
  • Plan description : Calls are 10¢ per minute.

Calling plan : Best Times

  • Type : Two-rate plan
  • Monthly fee : $5.95
  • Rate periods included : Peak (8 a.m.-5 p.m. Mondays-Fridays) and Off-Peak (all other times).
  • Plan description : Peak calls are 10¢ per minute and Off-Peak, 5¢.

Calling plan : SmartTouch

  • Type : One-rate plan
  • Monthly fee : None
  • Rate periods included : All
  • Plan description : Toll-free number for this plan is (888) 696-8362. Customers must register and purchase long distance services in advance in any amount using a credit/debit card. Interstate calls are debited from the balance at 8¢ per minute. SmartTouch accounts may be recharged at any time using a credit card. (Not available in every state.)

Calling plan : FlexTime Saver

  • Type : Two-rate plan offering a discount on specific spending levels.
  • Monthly fee : None. $3 monthly minimum usage requirement.
  • Rate periods included : Weekday 12-hour Peak periods, starting at 5a.m., 6 a.m., 7 a.m. or 8 a.m. Weekends are Off-Peak.
  • Plan description : On bills of less than $25 a month, Peak calls are 20¢ per minute and Off-Peak, 12¢; on bills of more than $25, Peak calls are 15¢ per minute and Off-Peak calls, 10¢.

Calling plan : AnyTime Saver

  • Type : One-rate plan offering a discount on specific spending levels.
  • Monthly fee : None. $3 monthly minimum.
  • Rate periods included : All
  • Plan description : On bills of less than $25 a month, calls are 14¢ per minute. Over $25, interstate calls are 12¢ per minute.

WORKING ASSETS • (800) 788-8588


(Serves Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas residents only.)

Calling plan : Round the Clock Plus

  • Type : One-rate plan
  • Monthly fee : $4.95
  • Rate periods included : All
  • Plan description : Calls are 7¢ per minute.

Calling plan : Best Hours

  • Type : Two-rate plan
  • Monthly fee : None
  • Rate periods included : Peak (Monday-Friday, 7 a.m.-7 p.m.) and Off-Peak (all other times).
  • Plan description : Peak calls are 25¢ per minute and Off-Peak, 10¢.

Calling plan : 5¢ Evenings and Weekends

  • Type : Two-rate plan
  • Monthly fee : $4.95
  • Rate periods included : Peak (Monday-Friday, 7 a.m.-7 p.m.) and Off-Peak (all other times, including holidays).
  • Plan description : Peak calls are 10¢ per minute and Off-Peak, 5¢.

Consumer Action's Interstate Long Distance Rates Survey 2000

by Linda Sherry

The chart below shows the lowest per-minute rates on interstate calls from 18 phone companies, during the Daytime (Peak) and Evening, Night & Weekend (Off-Peak) rate periods. (See plan descriptions on this page for complete information on each plan and carrier contact numbers.)

Calling plans with no monthly fee or minimum usage requirement are grouped in the first section of the chart. Plans with monthly fees or minimums are grouped separately, as are plans that require customers to set up service through the companies' web sites and/or require automatic billing to a credit or debit card. This year's chart contains a new category for prepaid plans, for which you pay in advance for long distance minutes. (See plan descriptions for phone numbers and web site addresses.)

Most of the carriers offer more than one calling plan. The rates quoted are connected to the specific calling plans listed. Other calling plans may be available.

Use the chart and listings only as a guide—rates and calling plans can change at any time. If an asterisk appears on the chart, it means that:

* The fee is waived or reduced with online credit card billing, if a specified monthly spending level is reached, or if other services are purchased with long distance.

** The service or plan is available only in certain states. (See plan descriptions.)

*** This company offers Internet-based calls. There is a one-time charge of $9.95 for software and headset.

Neither CA's surveys nor its interpretation of survey results may be used in advertising or for any other commercial purposes. This survey was conducted by Linda Sherry and Delicia Hegwood of the CA staff from July 22-August 10.

Carrier Daytime calls
  Calling plan Per Minute Fee / Minimum
  --- Plans without fees or minimums ---
AT&T One Rate Basic 16¢ None / None
ExpressTel/TelAmerica** Residential 11.5¢ None / None
Frontier Frontier One 14¢ None / None
Incomnet I Plus 8.9¢ None / None
Pac-West Telecomm** One Rate Plan (continental states) None / None
Qwest One Rate 15¢ None / None
SBC** SBC Long Dsitance None / None
Verizon** Timeless 10¢ None / None
Working Assets Best Hours 25¢ None / None
  --- Plans with monthly minimum charges ---
AT&T One Rate 15¢ None / $5
Matrix Elite 9.9¢ None / $3.76
MCI-WorldCom 9¢ Anytime None / $5
Talk.com 9¢ Anytime None / $3
Verizon** Anytime Saver 12¢-14¢ None / $3
  --- Plans with monthly fees ---
AT&T One Rate 5¢ $8.95*/ None
Capsule Communications Five Pennies LD 4.9¢ $1.99* / None
Excel Simply 7¢ $4.95 / None
Frontier Exact Rate $3.99 / None
GTC 5¢ Long Distance $1.95* / None
IDT 5¢ Long Distance $3.95 / None
Incomnet I Preferred 5.9¢ $4.95 / None
Matrix Member Plus 8.9¢ $4.95 / None
MCI-WorldCom 7¢ Anytime $3.95* / None
Qwest Countdown/b> 5¢-9¢ $4.95 / None
Sprint Nickel Anytime $8.95 / None
Talk.com 5¢ Anytime $5.95 / None
Verizon** Best Times 10¢
(weekdays 8a.m. - 5p.m.)
$5.95 / None
Working Assets Round-the-Clock Plus  
  - Plans that require online sign-up and/or credit card billing -
AT&T 5¢ Plan None / $5
Frontier WebSaver None / None
GTC FreeNet 7.9¢ $4.95 / None
MCI-Worldcom One Net Savings None / $5
Net2phone Internet Calling 0¢*** None / None
Qwest E-ferral  
Verizon** E-Values None / None
  ------------- Prepaid plans -------------
Qwest N.A. N.A.  
SBC** Block of Time $18 / None
Sprint 1000 Anytime $40 / None
Verizon** SmartTouch** None / None
Carrier Evening, Night & Weekend calls
  Calling plan Per Minute Fee / Minimum
  --- Plans without fees or minimums ---
AT&T One Rate Basic 16¢ None / None
ExpressTel/TelAmerica** Residential 11.5¢ None / None
Frontier Home Connections 10¢ None / None
Incomnet I Plus 8.9¢ None / None
Pac-West Telecomm** One Rate Plan (continental states) None / None
Qwest One Rate 15¢ None / None
SBC** SBC Long Dsitance None / None
Verizon** Timeless 10¢ None / None
Working Assets Best Hours 10¢ None / None
  --- Plans with monthly minimum charges ---
AT&T One Rate 15¢ None / $5
Matrix Premier 4.9¢ None / $4.50
MCI-WorldCom 9¢ Anytime None / $5
Talk.com 9¢ Anytime None / $3
Verizon** FlexTime Saver 10¢-12¢ None / $3
  --- Plans with monthly fees ---
AT&T One Rate 5¢ $8.95*/ None
Capsule Communications Five Pennies LD 4.9¢ $1.99* / None
Excel Threes Penny Plan $5.95 / None
Frontier Exact Rate $3.99 / None
GTC 5¢ Long Distance $1.95* / None
IDT 5¢ Long Distance $3.95 / None
Incomnet I Preferred 5.9¢ $4.95 / None
Matrix Member Plus 8.9¢ $4.95 / None
MCI-WorldCom Weekends 5¢-7¢ $5.95 / None
Qwest Countdown/b> 5¢-9¢ $4.95 / None
Sprint Nickel Nights $5.95 / None
Talk.com 5¢ Anytime $5.95 / None
Verizon** Best Times 5¢(from 5p.m. weekdays) $5.95 / None
Working Assets 5¢ Evenings / Weekends $4.95 / None
  - Plans that require online sign-up and/or credit card billing -
AT&T 5¢ Plan None / $5
Frontier WebSaver None / None
GTC FreeNet 7.9¢ $4.95 / None
MCI-Worldcom One Net Savings None / $5
Net2phone Internet Calling 0¢*** None / None
Qwest E-ferral  
Verizon** E-Values 9¢(5¢ weekends) None / None
  ------------- Prepaid plans -------------
Qwest 1500 Plan 1.7¢ $24.95* / None
SBC** Block of Time $18 / None
Sprint 1000 Nights / 1000 Weekends 2¢ / 2¢ $20 / None
Verizon** SmartTouch** None / None

New staffers join Consumer Action

by Delicia Hegwood

There have been a few staffing changes at Consumer Action's San Francisco office:

  • Delicia Hegwood joined CA's editorial staff in June to help Editorial Director Linda Sherry write and publish CA's newsletter, press releases and other publications.
    Before coming to CA, she wrote educational articles for various web sites. Hegwood said her new job is the "perfect combination. I can learn more about complex consumer issues and help inform people about their rights."
  • Candice Huang, originally from China, came to CA to help out while office manager Hazel Kong was on maternity leave. Not content just to answer the phone, she was soon helping with data entry, Chinese translations, layout and proofreading.
    "Everyday, I learn something new at CA," says Huang, who is studying computer science.
  • Sandeep Kumar, who works as administrative assistant in CA's Healthy Children Organizing Project (HCOP), was looking for a job that would involve a little bit of social work and a little bit of environmentalism.
    HCOP works to educate San Francisco's diverse communities and build their capacity to help themselves address environmental health issues affecting children. "Helping children avoid preventable diseases caused by their environment is an important area of urban environmentalism," said Kumar.
  • Helen Tonnemacher worked for 12 years in MCI's public relations and customer service departments. Early this year, she retired from MCI, but found she missed helping people. Tonnemacher found her way to CA, where she volunteers her time to help Lorraine Wiley answer consumer hotline and e-mail inquiries.
 

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