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

Re: Payphone Surcharges (was Unanswered Cellphones)

Seth Breidbart (
Fri, 6 Jan 2006 01:17:30 UTC

In article <>,
<> wrote:

> Seth Breidbart wrote:

>> It wasn't the owner of the payphone who forced you to make those
>> notifications, right? Whoever forced you to call your employer and
>> your sister is the one who extorted you.

> That's a rather odd way of looking at the situation, don't you think?

Nope. You claimed extortion, which involves force. I suggest that
whoever _forced_ you to do something is the one who performed the

> Are you saying it is unusual for a person to call other family members
> when someone gets sick? Are you saying it is unusual to call your
> employer when you will be delayed reporting to work?

No, I'm not saying that those things are _unusual_. What does
usualness have to do with _extortion_?

>> So the problem was your own ignorance.

> In most other retail services your attitude would grounds for
> government action. Oh, my ground meat has 75% filler in it? Well,
> you should've known about it, shouldn't you?

Contents of ground meat are specified by law (including maximum amount
of fat).

> Oh, my gasoline is 80 octaine? Well, you should've known about it,
> shouldn't you?

The sign at the pump says so. Why didn't you read it?

> In other retail services the price is on the item or the shelf. Yet
> in pay phones the price is nowhere to be found.

You must use a different kind of payphone than all the ones I've
seen. Those list their prices (for local calls, and tell you how to
get the prices for other calls).

> Sorry, but I don't buy your argument that the consumer should
> already know.

I thought your complaint was about the price your calling card
charged, not the phone.

>>> Interesting how you put it. Let's be clear about something. Until
>>> divesture, making a phone call was indeed a right under the philosophy
>>> of universal telephone service.

>> It was a _goal_, not a _right_. And even then, payphones weren't part
>> of it.

> It was indeed a _right_, codified by national policy by rates set by
> the FCC and local PUCs.

And if you couldn't make a phone call, did somebody go to jail for
violating your rights? Policy is a _goal_.

> Rate averaging and universal service. Some
> payphones were very costly, some were very profitable, but all
> payphones in an area charged the exact same rate by law,

Which law? Actually, the rates were set by filed _tariff_. I believe
that the phone company didn't try to file tariffs specifying different
rates for different locations.

> inter-state calls all paid the same rate. Further, rates were
> available in advance from an easily reached operator always on duty.

Did you ask for the rate you'd get using your calling card?


[TELECOM Digest Editor's Note: I think Lisa may have used the word
'extorted' in a loose, general way. You need to understand, Seth, that
we do not all speak the Queen's English in everything we say. Part of
the fun in our conversations is that we do not need to measure-every-
single-word-before-we-use-it. I think almost everyone knows the
'general, everyday casual' use of the word 'extort'. But for those of
you who do not, or who wish to make an issue out of the words we use
rather than deal with the concept/opinion presented, in this ouvre you
are reading now, most readers would generally take 'extort' to mean
not only physical force used, or a gun to your head (the most severe
forms of extortion, I grant you) but additionally the simple act of
arranging things so that if the customer does not 'follow along' with
a plan presented, i.e. use _my_ telephone for ten dollars because I
do not permit cell phones in my establishment or because I do not
permit (by virtue of re-routing the call) the use of _your_ calling
card or _your_ toll free number, it simply becomes very inconvenient
for the customer to do otherwise. Its not that we could not walk
some distance on a cold, snowy night to find a telephone which would
respond as we desired, nor do we have any _legal_ right to have a
phone wired to our pleasure at our beck and call. And realistically
Seth, people do not read; they approach certain situations in life
pre-conditioned, to 'know what to expect'. I hope you can deal with
that lack of perfection in many people around you. PAT]

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