Cagey Consumer

Long Distance Wholesale Club Never Makes Good on Free Calls

In the first half of 1997, the Cagey Consumer received an offer from Long Distance Wholesale Club day promising 20 free minutes of interstate long distance calls. I was happy to promote this offer on my web site, because it appeared to be a no-strings-attached offer, with no monthly fee involved or other purchase required. While the offer was in place, the web page received about 4000 hits.

When the phone bill came through, although all the calls were charged at the promised 9.5¢ per minute rate, there was no indication of a credit for the promised free calls. Upon calling Long Distance Wholesale Club (aka Telco Communications Group), I was advised a credit would be issued electronically and that it could take up to two billing cycles to receive the credit.

Four billing cycles later, I still have no credit, and the story from Telco is exactly the same. Customers who accepted this offer should never have had to call to receive the credit once they signed up for the offer. I can only conclude that Telco's failure is systematic and intentional.

Because the amount at issue is only $1.90 (20 minutes at 9.5¢ per minute), Telco apparently concluded that most customers would just forget about the credit, and few of those that did would remember to call back every two months.

If you responded to Telco's offer but never received your credit, I encourage you to send a letter of complaint to:

Common Carrier Bureau
Consumer Complaints
Stop Code  1600A2
Washington, DC 20554
or follow these instructions from the FCC.

Here are some of things going into my letter:

  1. Telco Communications Group offered 20 free minutes of calls as part of a promotional offer under Long Distance Whole Club FCC tarriff #1 & #2 to persons signing up for the offer by calling 800-791-0937.
  2. The phone bills from the local exchange company for May and June 1997 reflected $34.43 in Telco charges plus $1.08 in taxes and surcharges for calls made using Telco's carrier access code (10297), but do not reflect any credit for the 20 free minutes that were promised.
  3. After the May bill arrived, I contacted Telco and was informed that the credit would appear within two billing cycles, but as of the September bill, there is still no credit.
  4. This credit should have been automatic, and Telco's repeated failure to issue a credit leads me to believe that this failure is willful, and that Telco's initial offer of free long distance calls was therefore fraudulent.
  5. I request that the FCC order Telco to issue credit to all customers who signed up for this program but did not receive the credit they were eligible for, and to assess substantial penalties against Telco or order such additional remedies as the FCC deems appropriate.

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