Recently, the television and newspaper have been full of US WEST ads promoting their in-state long-distance telephone rate of 9 1/2 cents per minute.
Intrigued by these ads, I started using US WEST for my in-state long-distance calls. I just received my first bill under this plan, and I am afraid US WEST does, in fact, have hidden costs.Here is an example:
All of my long-distance calls of duration 1 minute were billed at 10 cents and not 9 1/2 cents. Three-minute calls were billed at 29 cents instead of 28.5 cents. In fact, the cost of all calls that lasted an odd number of minutes was rounded up. If the call lasted an even number of minutes, such as 2 minutes (cost 19 cents) or 8 minutes (76 cents), it was properly billed.
So how much is this rounding costing me? My in-state long-distance usage amounted to 109 minutes, and the US WEST cost was $10.55. However, if 109 is multiplied by .095 the true cost should be $10.35. So I am being overcharged by 20 cents. Now, 20 cents doesn't seem like a lot of money, but after you include federal and state taxes, that 20-cent overcharge is more like 22 or 23 cents. Now, multiply this by hundreds of thousands of users in the US WEST service area, and US WEST is reaping quite a windfall in excess charges every month.
US WEST already rounds the duration of calls to the nearest minute, so to round the length of the call and then the cost of the call is double rounding.
When I called the business office to ask about this, the decision was that they weren't going to adjust the bill.
By the way, I am not a disgruntled employee of US WEST. I am a mathematics teacher at Weber High School, and I am always looking for these types of inaccuracies in advertising and actual business practices.