Crazy Long Distance Charges when Travelling

On my July 9 home telephone bill from Aliant there was a $28 charge for a 9 minute call I made with my calling card from a Bed & Breakfast in New Hampshire to home. That’s about $3.00 a minute, which is crazy.

The call was noted on my bill as being processed by ZPDI.

I called Aliant (listen to the comical audio of my first try), and talked to one of their operators and learned, much to my surprise, that all “calling card” calls are not created equal, and that the actual rates charged are not necessarily Aliant’s rates.

The operator suggested that, when in doubt, I call 1-800-555-1111, which is a toll-free call that connects directly to Aliant’s long-distance network, and ensures that calls placed are billed at Aliant’s rates.

Added later…

I just received the following email from ZPDI:

Thank you for your inquiry. You have reached ZPDI which is a billing clearinghouse that processes records on behalf of operator service providers and long distance carriers that provide service for hotels, motels, payphones, and correctional institutions. The operator service provider who processed the collect call is NCIC. The collect call was placed from a phone located at the Peterborough Manor on 50 Summer Street in Peterborough, New Hampshire.
Mr. Rukavina, I realize you were not aware of the rate, however, rates for carriers are designed to recover unique expenses associated with the telephone from which your call was placed. In addition, rates are available upon request and each carrier is required to identify them selves prior to connecting the call. Mr. Rukavina, I am able to offer you a one-time complimentary credit for $10.04 in American funds. The total amount of the calls is $19.50 in American funds. Please let us know if you would like this credit applied to your bill.

As much as a laud them for their quick turnaround, I am suspicious of the quick rush to offer me $10 American. I’ll take it, and be happy, but I wonder if they’re just trying to shut me up.

Comments

Peter Rukavina's picture
Peter Rukavina on July 24, 2003 - 19:46

I would be remiss if I didn’t add that the friendly Aliant customer service agent called me back to say that she had checked my current long distance plan and determined that I’ve got the best savings plan they offer for my calling patterns. When she went to ring off, she said “Thank you for being an Aliant customer, we’re happy to have you.” This is the first time in 10 years anyone at Aliant or Island Tel has thanked me for being a customer. I appreciate it.

Oliver B's picture
Oliver B on July 25, 2003 - 02:18

Regarding whether the partial refund was to shut you up, I think so. Whether you have a significant chance of getting greater satisfaction out of making noise, I doubt it, but it’s possible. I complained to the FCC once about what I regarded as misleading advertising by a dial-around company, which led me to rack up perhaps a hundred 15-cent connection fees that I hadn’t expected to incur. Not only did the company evidentally hear about this from the FCC, I think they took the complaint very seriously. The person who called to offer me a refund was not your ordinary customer service person. He was a surly guy who said he was a lawyer, and at the end he asked me to confirm that the proferred refund settled the matter of my complaint. I suppose the tally of unsettled complaints must land on the desk of senators and big wheels at the FCC, who can shut these companies down or at least cramp their profit-making styles. From the lawyer’s tone, I could tell it was not my personal satisfaction that was his concern. In fact he warned me sternly never to try making such a complaint again!

Rob's picture
Rob on July 25, 2003 - 14:39

I once called my wife in PEI using my Aliant calling card from Newark airport. We spoke for 12 minutes. When I got the bill it was for $75 US! To make matters worse the bill stated I called Turkey, not PEI. Took me 3 months to straighten out.

BILL's picture
BILL on April 8, 2004 - 15:13

I CALLED NBTEL AND TOLD THEM I WAS NOT GOING TO PAY.
I DID NOT RECEIVE ANY NOTICE THAT I WAS USING ANY OTHER LONG DISTANCE CARRIER .THE NBTEL CARD DID NOT INSTRUCT ME TO CALL THE 1 800 #
THEY CREDITED MY ACCOUNT AND I SUGGESTED THAT CHECK THIS COMPANY OUT AS THEY ARE RIPPING OFF NBTEL’S CUSTOMERS. EVERY ONE SHOULD COMMPAIN

Sandra Smith's picture
Sandra Smith on May 3, 2004 - 22:42

I am waiting to hear from Aliant….I have a 15.00 call for a 3 minute conversation from New Orleans to Nova Scotia…I used a Call Me card….why doesn’t the phone company issuing these calling cards make us aware of this RIP OFF!!!Then they charge HST on top of it……..UNREAL!!!!

Kristin's picture
Kristin on May 16, 2006 - 00:21

I just got off the phone with Bell Quebec. At my insistence, a CS rep opened a dispute of charges originating from ZPDI, totalling $27.08 CAD, for calls that I supposedly made to a landline in Lake Worth, FL. In actuality, I was at the Lake Worth residence that owns the landline #, making Call Me Card calls back to my home # in Quebec. Three of the calls were $2.82/min, the last was $18.62 for 17 min! All 4 should have been included with the rest of the Call Me calls placed while in Florida. The CS rep told me that the other carrier would deal with me directly, by sending a bill to explain where the calls originated from and to justify the charges. However, he said that I would still have to pay them and that the company would not credit Bell Quebec, nor would they credit me. I worked in wireless telecommunications for 7 years and saw many examples of other carriers making errors. Too many consumers aren’t aware of this potential for error, and simply pay unjust charges without question, which perpetuates the unethical business practices of certain companies. If I receive an unsatisfactory response, I will pursue it to a higher level, both with Bell and the other carrier. We need to stand up for our rights, as no one will do this for us.

Kristin's picture
Kristin on June 21, 2006 - 18:59

Update to Kristin’s 2006-05-15 post: My June 12 Bell Quebec bill showed credits for the entire amount ($27.08) charged for the ZPDI calls. The CS rep who opened the dispute insisted that I would not be credited by Bell, so much for his credibility. This is proof that you don’t get what you deserve, rather you get what you negotiate. Make sure to always read your bills.

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