Scam: Prepaid Phone Cards Not Delivering Minutes Promised

If you ever felt like your prepaid phone card ran out of minutes awfully quick, you're not crazy - you're right.

A recent study by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission showed that consumers using prepaid long distance phone cards were only getting about half the talk time advertised.

MSNBC described the scam, revealing that "customers are charged connection fees, special fees for using a payphone, minutes are deducted for calls that did not connect and minutes are rounded up by three or four":

Earlier this year, the FTC charged two major calling card distributors with cheating customers. In its lawsuits, the commission claims these firms charge hidden fees and make false statements about the number of minutes customers would receive.

During its investigation, the FTC bought and used dozens of calling cards from these two firms. None of the cards provided the number of minutes promised. On average, they delivered about half the minutes advertised. But in some cases it was much worse. A 360-minute card to Panama gave only 23 minutes of calling time.

All of these various fees eat away at card balances, leaving many consumers feeling cheated, and contribute to the pre-paid phone card industry's £2.5 billion income per year.  And with the pre paid phone card industry being so easy to enter, it's not wonder that the market is so ripe for fraud.

The good news is that the FTC has brought lawsuits against two major offenders, giving consumers hope for changes in the future.

Unless you plan to have one long conversation on your prepaid long distance phone card, why not consider a global SIM card, or a VOIP tool like Skype?  My favorite: VOIPStunt.

[MSNBC] (via The Consumerist)

1 comment

  • Zencat
    I recently added minutes to my Virgin Mobile phone. I have made about 10 attempted phone calls and all calls automatically disconnected the moment someone answered. I used up 100 minutes of card time. I beginning to think that: Virgin Mobile are scumbag thieves and should be punished severely.

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