Service providers can get up to all sorts of tricks, both in the
presentation of their rates and in their billing. Nowadays we are
accustomed to regarding this as clever marketing. Not long ago, it
was called more simply, dishonesty. But in today's over-regulated
world, the thinking seems to be that if it's legal, it's moral. If
you can get way with it, it's OK. Well, that's not M-Line's view.
M-Line aims to be straight, simple, honest, readily comprehensible,
and fully auditable. Our minimum call charge is the minimum unit of
currency, 1p. Here are some of the tricks our competitors play:
1. Presentation tricks
A. Minimum call charge, as some fraction of a minute.
This is a real corker, and it
features in some of the most dishonest tariffing schemes in the
market. In the accompanying leaflet entitled "Minimum Call
Charge Tricks", we expose the mechanics behind these schemes.
Imposing a severe minimum call charge scheme allows you to drop
your headline rates to alluring levels, in the certain knowledge
that most customers will end up paying an effective per minute
charge far greater than they realise.
B. Minimum call charge as a fixed charge. Not so bad, particularly in view of BT's own minimum
charge of 4.26p (plus VAT). But is 3p much better ? You might think
it is, but did you know that for instance over half of your local
calls are likely to be charged at the minimum ? See the
accompanying leaflet entitled "Minimum Call Charge
C. No mimimum call charge, but a call connection fee of
2p. What ? Surely that means
there is a minimum call charge of 2p ? Well, yes it does, but still
you haven't got to the funny part. That effectively doubles the
rate for more than half your UK calls to fixed lines. See the
accompanying leaflet entitled "Minimum Call Charge Tricks".
D. Monthly "membership" fee of £10. Nice
one. It is not easy to generalise upon the effect of this, as the
spend of customers vary so widely. You have to amortise this cost
over the minutes you use. It is equivalent to 350 to 400 minutes
per month of local traffic. £10 may be the better part of what
a low-spending customer saves over BT by using the alternative
service. Combine that with one of the minimum call charge tricks
above, and see if you can arrive at any comprehensible rate for the
minutes you use.
2. Billing Tricks
M-Line operates its own billing
system, and the experience of constructing this has indicated all
sorts of areas where deception is possible. Here are some of
A. Summing of rounded costs.Round each call to the penny above, then sum the
rounded call costs. M-Line sums the true charge for each call.
B. When a minute is only 50 seconds. Quite the most bizarre one we have heard of. Maybe
they are trying to make time metric. That has the effect of raising
published rates by 20%. And it's virtually uncheckable by the
customer, unless a strict note is kept of call durations. Even then
there is plenty of scope for arguing about when the call started
and ended as far as the carrier's system was concerned. An M-Line
minute, rather uncontroversially we hope, consists of precisely 60
Call Charge Trick