Public phones required to have recordings that describe costs FCC rule aimed at keeping down long-distance rates

July 04, 1998|By NEWSDAY

After thousands of complaints and consumer confusion, the Federal Communications Commission is cracking down on high rates for certain long-distance calls made from public telephones.

One complaint filed to the FCC came from a consumer who made a call from a North Carolina motel room was charged $9.58 for a 2-minute call, including a $9.05 surcharge per call.

Under a rule that went into effect this week, companies that provide long-distance service on pay phones and telephones in hospitals, restaurants and other areas will be required to have recordings that describe the costs.

The FCC rule does not apply to customers who use a toll-free number to reach a long-distance service and then use a calling card to complete the call. But it does apply to those who dial 0 first, then the area code and number, and then pay by coins, call collect or use a calling card. Consumers will have the option of finding out how much they will be billed.

Customers who use AT&T as a long-distance provider will have to wait. AT&T has been granted an extension until October to reprogram its phones, company spokeswoman Wendy Macey said.

Pub Date: 7/04/98

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