Tricks They Play

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 Tricks".

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 them:

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 seconds

Minimum Call Charge Trick