Post by Jeffrey W. McKeou » Fri, 08 Jul 1994 14:34:44

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.)


1. 1-800-OPERATOR: AT&T Automated Collect Calling

Did you forget your "debit" calling card at home? Not to worry --
another method of travel calling is heating up: Calling Collect!

AT&T has placed 1-800-OPERATOR into service for collect calling,
ostensibly to compete with MCI's similar "1-800-COLLECT From MCI"
service. (Ironically, until 800 Portability arrived, AT&T's new
number, equivalent to 1 800 673-7286, fell into MCI's number space.)

Unlike MCI's service, AT&T's will, within a few weeks, utilize
speech-recognition technology. From their Press Release:

     Initially, operators will answer calls to 1-800-OPERATOR.
     After mid-July, the service will feature automated call
     servicing, using speech-recognition technology developed
     by AT&T Bell Laboratories. Callers may use 1-800-OPERATOR
     at any phone and receive a discount on their collect calls.
     If a caller reaches the automated system and chooses to
     use an operator to complete the call, standard collect-call
     rates will apply.

AT&T and MCI are both having "ten cents per minute" promotions on July
4th.  Aside from these one-day, promotional, rates, the Press Release
is vague about the service's cost, stating only that: "Collect calls
made by dialing 1-800-OPERATOR will match or better the everyday
state-to-state collect-call prices of major long-distance companies."

Disclaimer: I am not an AT&T employee. I'm just a customer.

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