TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Re: Payphone Surcharges (was: Unanswered Cellphones)

Re: Payphone Surcharges (was: Unanswered Cellphones)

John Levine (
28 Dec 2005 01:33:34 -0000

> It IS extortion at the rates they charge. While I have a cellphone,
> not everyone has one, and payphones with calling cards are still the
> way they need to place calls while not at home.

> The surcharge rates are *NOT* regulated!

The amount the payphone owner charges the calling card company is
regulated, but you are correct that they can mark it up as much as
they want. I would think that the obvious solution would be to find a
calling card that doesn't. It's not like there is a shortage of

> The Long Distance carriers, card issuers, etc. usually have some kind
> of card surcharge that would apply when you are calling from either a
> payphone, hotel phone, or regular business (PBX or otherwise) or
> residential line, ...

I get the impression you haven't used a calling card in a while. The
ones I use have a flat per minute charge from normal phones, and about
a 55 cent per call surcharge from payphones.

> Payphone service used to be a good convenient public service when
> telco really did own the phones. But when the non-telco owners came
> in, like a cancer, payphone service went to hell

You're utterly confusing causes and effects. Three things happened at
about the same time that were bad news for traditional pay phone
service. The first was the plummeting long distance rates due to IXC
competition. When long distance cost 30 cents/minute and local
payphone calls were a dime, there was plenty to share with the telco
to compensate the payphone owner. The second was cell phones, which
now carry a whole lot of calls that used to be made on pay phones.
And the third, which I presume you are referring to, is COCOTs.

It's true, COCOT providers have sometimes competed on the basis of how
much customer revenue they can kick back to the owner of the location
where the COCOT is located. But I don't see that any more -- now I
typically see COCOTs that charge about the same or maybe even less
than telco payphones. I see plenty of COCOTs that offer flat rates as
low as 10 cpm for some international calls, something that Ma never
gave us.



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