This page will always have information from an actual bill sent to us
for analysis. A condensed version of the bill will be shown below and
you can download a zipped copy of the
entire bill as a series of gif files. An analysis
of the bill showing all the recommendations we made for this customer
follows the bill summary. Finally, you can see what the exact bottom-line
of this bill would be under the best plan (following our recommendations)
and also with each of the "best-rate" discount plans currently being offered
by the Big 3. This bill is also included in each of our comparison
tables so you can see exactly what the top plans would look like for this
The large bill is very representative of a major provider's long distance
and local service charges and so has been used for several months as a comparison bill.
The current bill involves a special situation. We receive bills like
the one we are using this month more and more. It is a local bill from a
U. S. West customer, but it could be a bill from anybody anywhere. This
customer had a basic local bill with no long distance. Other than the ridiculous
$4 per month charge he was paying for the Line-Backer service, his bill looked
OK. For anyone who doesn't know about the Line-Backer charge, please keep reading.
The main point here is that this person WAS spending a small fortune in long
distance charges, but it didn't appear on any bill.
He was doing as so many
people do these days, particularly when calling overseas. They are falling for the
prepaid calling card "scam" and spending far more than they should or often even realize.
People will continue to buy prepaid cards when they know something is wrong with
the pricing. They look at the quoted rate or the number of minutes and figure the
cards must be cheaper than using any other calling plan.
They can't understand why so many minutes disappear from the card
when they are not spent talking. All the surcharges are killing them. This
customer was spending several hundred dollars a month on international calling
and was also using the card for all his domestic calls as well. The actual
rate per minute was well over $2 for these calls as many of them were to
high rate areas and the large surcharges were only making things worse. He finally
decided to investigate and we were able to help him. He is now spending less
than half what he was and can talk as little or as long as he wishes on each call
and still pay the same rate per minute.
A copy of his one page bill can be downloaded here
if you want to check out the Line-Backer charge. There is not
much else to see. We set him up with 1+ interstate at 4.9 and a post pay calling card
that cut his international rates by 70%. He couldn't believe how much he had been
squandering. For those not familiar with the Line-Backer charge (it is called by
different names) here is the story. Almost all local providers will pad your bill with
this one if you don't watch out. It is supposed to "protect" you from high costs for
repairs, but is basically a scam. It is a form of "insurance" similar to the rip-off
extended warranties you often see on products and even more useless. It only covers
the wiring that runs from the interface to your phone. This wiring hardly ever
needs repairing and if it ever does, most people can do it themselves. Even if they
can't, they can certainly find someone (even the phone company) who can do the
simple repair for far less than the total they will pay for this so-called service.
Spending $50 or more per year for this ridiculous fee is one of the
biggest overcharges you will find on your bill. If you are paying for a charge like
this, call and have it removed immediately.
You can post comments about these bills or any
other area related to telecommunications
by using the form at the bottom of the page. You can send us your bill for FREE analysis by using
the bill faxing number or visiting this page.
The bill posted below comes from a residential Chicago customer
whose local provider is
Ameritech (Baby Bell) with local metered service who had just switched to
Sprint from MCI for interstate calls.
Under the current providers, local service is charged at a flat 10¢ per call
regardless of length, on calls terminating at a certain distance or greater from
the billing number. Closer calls are provided at no charge with a basic monthly
fee of $10. Calls greater than the maximum local call distance (local-toll or
intralata) are handled by Ameritech,
the local provider. Interstate 1+ calls are charged by Sprint and the calling card
is provided by MCI.
This is a good example of how a gimmick plan can really cost you unless you have bizarre
calling patterns. Flat rate
local service would have resulted in a few dollars saved over the metered service option
using this bill only as a guide. When the customer was questioned about other bills, it
was determined that the number of calls on this bill was well above the average of most.
The difference either way was only going to be $3 to $5 per month and so the customer
left this option as it was.
This customer had made several calls to local and long-distance information, all of
which were unnecessary, as these numbers were all available on the Internet. In addition,
the total fees for simply using the Sprint plan and MCI calling card were prohibitive.
The customer was looking only at the nickel rate and NOT the total cost per minute
using the bottom line divided by the total number of minutes. On 974 minutes
of 1+ interstate calling, the customer had paid $163.25, for an actual cost of
16.7¢ per minute. The calling card rate was 5¢ per minute, but the charge for 9 minutes
was $5.32. This was a whopping 59¢ per minute!!
Here's a summary of the bill:
Area: Chicago, IL
Local Provider: Ameritech
Local Type: Metered (per call charge on certain calls)
Local-Toll Provider: Ameritech
Calling-Card Provider: MCI
Interstate 1+ Provider: Sprint
Total Ameritech Local Charges: 74.99
Charge For Local Metered Calls: 28.90
Total Local Calls: 416
Total Local Minutes: 6861
Total Ameritech Local-Toll Charges: 0
Total Ameritech Local-Toll Minutes: 0
Total Sprint charges: 163.26
Total Sprint Calls: 57
Total Sprint Minutes: 974
Total MCI charges: 5.94
Total MCI Calls: 3
Total MCI Minutes: 9
Bill Total: 244.18
Here's Our Analysis Of The Maximums The Customer Should Have Paid:
Calling Card: .67
1+ Interstate: 58.61
Information Calls: -5.85
This gives these savings:
Total Charges Analyzed: 175.04
Total Charge After Our Recommended Changes: 59.28
Savings: 115.76 (66.1%)
Other Plans Would Be:
ATT 7¢ One Rate: 90.61
MCI 5¢ Everyday: 91.32
Sprint Nickel Nights: 92.27
On another bill the costs per minute might well be higher for ATT, Sprint, and MCI plans, as the
lower the total number of minutes per month, the higher the cost per minute on these plans.
Most long distance customers do not use 1000 minutes per month of interstate long distance.
If this customer had made more than 9 minutes of calls using the calling card then
the ATT, MCI, and Sprint bill totals could have been much higher. Even at this rate the best
of the "Big 3" plans would have cost over 50% more than our plan.
You may send a request for information or order any of our plans by simply filling out
the form below. We can contact you by E-mail if you desire, although
we actually prefer to speak to you directly at your convenience.
We don't ask for any personal information over the Internet so just leave your name,
phone number and the best time to call, or leave only your name and E-mail
address if you don't want a return call. Leave any message you may have in the
text box at the bottom and press the submit button. You are not signing
up for any plan by filling out this form, nor are you obligated to accept anything
if we call.
You may also contact us by a variety of other methods, including a direct Net Phone
call (or voice-mail) over the Internet, an alphanumeric page, call us directly toll-free at
one of the numbers below, or fax us your bill for free analysis. You will almost
definitely get diverted to a voice-mail system during business hours as we REFUSE to
make people wait on hold for more than a minute. We will call you back at your
convenience at any time you specify if we can't take your call immediately.
Henton Communication Enterprises
24 Hour Bill Faxing Line
Toll-Free US Voice Calls Only