After seeing the 8934th ad touting the benefits of COLLECT vs.
CALL-ATT, I decided to call the respective carriers and find out who
really has the lowest collect surcharge. The result: it's a tie.
Both MCI and AT&T charge $1.50/call (plus the appropriate per-minute
rate) for parties receiving collect calls through these services.
AT&T charges $.55 more for a "live" operator ($2.05), and I forgot to
ask what MCI charges.
An interesting note: AT&T said that they will discount 1-800-CALL-ATT
collect calls for True USA customers, while MCI said that 1-800-COLLECT
calls are charged at the full rate to their customers, since the
collect calls do not come from a calling circle member. MCI calls
accepted by AT&T customers will not receive any discount. So I guess
that if you are an AT&T True USA subscriber (which I am), 1-800-CALL-ATT
offers you a better deal.
Of course the ads try to persuade the caller, and not the recipient,
so I guess I only get a discount if AT&T's ads work. It's interesting
that here you have a case in which the billed party has no control
over the carrier selection. (Other than to refuse the call, but
depending on the circumstances that might not be a good idea.)