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

Re: Payphone Surcharges (was: Unanswered Cellphones)
29 Dec 2005 07:35:01 -0800

DevilsPGD wrote:

> Unless the owner of the payphone is threatening or inflicting harm
> upon you causing you to make a call, no extortion has been committed.

In terms of the letter of the law you are correct. But when someone
is in a captive situation, such as being in a hospital and needing to
call family (either as a patient or visitor) the person has no
choices. In other words, when I had to take my mother to the
emergency room, I had to notify both my employer and my sister of the

Indeed, there was a risk of physical harm -- to my mother -- if I
didn't consult with my sister concerning my mother's medical situation
so I could properly advise the doctors. So, actually, I would call it
extortion per your definition.

> Feel free to contact your AG or a local ADA and see if you can get
> extortion charges filed against a payphone operator or owner, if you
> want confirmation.

In any event, it is certianly deceptive fraudulent behavior.
Attorneys General DO go after this sort of thing and it is publicized,
but it is one of only many things they must deal with.

> If you're paying too much, get a better calling card -- There are tons
> of options.

I was using a calling card and the pay phone used the long distance
carrier I used. But I didn't know I _still_ had to dial a special 800
number. After complaining, they took off the $25/minute charges.
That's fraud and deceptive business practice. (BTW, there were no
directions on my calling card number -- which was merely my phone number
with a PIN and I've had it for many years.)

Do you think a supermarket could get away with advertising a big
special but charging you outrageous prices because you didn't dial an
800 number first?

> Making a payphone call is not a right. Your "need" to make a call
> does not give you the right to do so at a rate of your choosing.

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.

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