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

Re: Payphone Surcharges (was: Unanswered Cellphones)

Thu, 29 Dec 2005 07:45:48 -0800

In article <>,
(Seth Breidbart) wrote:

> For 800 number, the FCC set the charge the (last I checked) just under
> $0.30. That's paid by the recipient (who may be a long distance
> carrier, or any sort of company with a toll-free inbound number).

Asking the following just as a matter of fact checking:

If I call an 800 (or 888?) number from a coin-operated payphone (e.g.,
in an airport concourse), does the owner or operator of that 800
number get charged 30 cents for each time I call (and they answer)?

More specifically, does this apply to *all and every* 800 number
owner? Or do some 800 number owners negotiate special (that is, much
cheaper) deals?

And do some 800 number owners -- scumbag types, maybe -- just not pay
these charges? And if so, do they perhaps get away with not paying?

(There's obviously a viewpoint hidden behind these questions -- but for
the minute I'm just seeking to get the "true facts" of the matter.)

[TELECOM Digest Editor's Note: I believe the subscriber to the 800
number charges no one anything; _he_ is the person who agreed with
telco to automatically accept all incoming calls on a collect basis.
(Except for the sleaze 800 operators; they will claim _they_ are
merely paying for the carriage to them; _you_ are paying for whatever
'service' they render on the phone, i.e. sex talk, horoscope, whatever.
[Their rationale is if a sore has an 800 line to place orders, you
call to place an order; do you expect the merchandise you receive at
a later time to be 'free' since the store agreed to pay for the
carriage of the original phone call? The only difference they say, is
that the merchandise or service was delivered on the spot, rather than
at a later time _as a reaction to_ your phone call.])

Another party to the transaction, the COCOT owner has to pay _nothing_
for dialing to and connecting with the 800 number. He gets the call
for 'free' since the 800 subscriber noted above has agreed to pay for
it. The COCOT owner's complaint however, is he wants someone to pay
him for the occupation of his instrument which becomes necessary since
telco (alias AT&T) no longer includes payphones in the Separations and
Settlements plan. Just as hotel switchboard operators get paid for
their guarantee of payment of telco's charge for service, my feeling
is that lacking some internal process for doing so, COCOT owner should
get paid for his guarentee of payment to telco.

Bear in mind that a hotel/rooming house guest is entitled to
_universal phone service_, but it would be very difficult administra-
tively for telco to meet that goal with _transient persons_. Telco
cannot go string wires and install an instrument for everyone who
demands it, and what about the payment afterward? So telco, as a long
established practice has had a deal with hotels, rooming houses,
motels, hospitals [a hospital is merely a 'motel' or 'hotel' for an
ill person is it not], college dormitories [merely a transient lodging
place for a studious person, is it not]: To the management of such a
place, "here are your wire pairs, here is the apparatus to use, _you_
situate it as needed, provide 'universal service' to these transient
persons, you guarentee the payment of the charges involved; in return
you get a commission or percentage of the revenue for your troubles.'

Now everyone goes away happy: telco meets its burden of universal
service, (with a payment to its 'helpers'), telco does not have to
worry about getting paid by the end user (presumably switchboard
operator has more trustworthy credit than the transient user, etc.
Switchboard operator resells a valuable service to its users it
could not afford to pay for or install on its own, i.e wire pairs,
central office switch, etc. And no one would stay in a hotel with no
phone there to use would they? So it enhances the value of _your_
primary business as well, all for the cost of paying the monthly bill
to telco, processing (reselling) the telephone calls, and diddling
with some paperwork. For your labor, telco pays _you_. Everyone goes
away happy. And whether or not the end user actally pays, or winds up
stiffing the in-between reseller does not matter to telco, the
in-between organization has _guarenteed_ the payment. So the
in-between organization makes a very diligent effort to collect from
the end transient user, something telco was trying to avoid in meeting
its burden of universal service.

With COCOTS, it should ideally be the same way: transient user demands
universal service (walks up to payphone, makes his call.)COCOT
operator collects for his service at rates which should be regulated,
at the end of the month, collects from the coin box, and remits
proceeds to telco less his 'commission', i.e. whatever is left over in
the box after paying telco. COCOT owner has a few burdens which do not
generally apply to other resellers (hotels, etc). His _extremely_
transient users are more likely to try and stiff him than the others.
So he collects in advance, and telco helps by flagging his line as
'coin service' to prevent third party underfeeders (sleazy 800 numbers
for example) from abusing him, but otherwise the principle is the
same. It all went away when telco divested; the worker-hive called
'Separations and Settlements' (a huge number of employees who sat in a
back-office, pushing scraps of paper worth two or three cents each
back and forth at each other, busy with their adding machines, and
filing cabinets, etc) -- a _terribly boring_ job if there ever was one
-- a lot like credit card processing offices) was one of the first to
vanish. Greed took over, everyone from telco downward wanted a bit
more. PAT]

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