Friday, October 15, 2010

An extra charge for Touch-Tone calling

[From my latest bill.]

Recent news about Verizon’s $1.99 key and various cellphone companies’ payment charges reminded me to be amused and annoyed that my land-line company charges a dollar a month for Touch Tone (or Touch-Tone) service. I have called on two occasions to inquire and have been told that the charge is a nationwide practice and that it’s Illinois-only. I have also been told that some people prefer to use pulse dialing and that there’s a little switch underneath the phone, &c. True, there is a switch. My response, sane as can be, is that in 2010, Touch-Tone is really the only way anyone dials a land-line telephone.¹ No, I am told; there is also pulse.

For a telephone company to charge for Touch-Tone in 2010 is, to my mind, comparable to a cable-television company’s charging for color. But absurdity can be profitable: with, say, 10,000 customers, this little charge would bring in $120,000 a year.

Reader, if you still use a land-line, do you pay extra for the privilege of Touch-Tone service?

¹ Unless perhaps one patronizes thrift stores or has wonderful children who do so.

comments: 5

Elaine said...

Our telephone service is now through our city's utility corporation and is connected somehow to the computer cable modem service... (We have electricity, water, sewer, garbage collection, cable, and internet service on Conwaycorp's single bill.) Neither of our kids has a land-line at all! Sign of the times?

Oh, and our number 1954-58 was SUnset 2-4609.

Andy said...

So when you called, before you got to the person who insisted that you could use pulse dialing, did you have to navigate an automated phone-tree that required touch-tone?

I still have a land-line and don't see any line-item on the bill for Touch-Tone. I do recall that about 20 years ago, they did want to charge extra. Being a financially challenged student at the time, I decided to make do with pulse dial. A couple years later, there was a note on my bill saying that they would start charging for pulse dial because it cost them more to continue to use the switches that supported it.

Michael Leddy said...

Elaine, your present number can have an exchange name too.

Andy, yes, there was a menu. I pointed that out to the customer-service person — irony, irony, but she didn’t flinch. I’ve read online that there are now areas in which pulse dialing is no longer an option.

normann said...

If you were to tell me that there is only one local phone company that has a Touch-Tone surcharge and asked me to guess what it was, I would not hesitate to answer LumpkinCom two-Dixie-Cups-and-string Consolidated Telephone, arguably the very worst local phone company in the US. Their phone book continued to list the country code for East Germany for years after reunification. This dippy surcharge is right up there with 25¢ a minute (probably 50¢ by now) toll calls to Mattoon from Charleston. Got a nice college of business from them though, even if it does look like a 1980s vintage S&L.

Michael Leddy said...

Dippy indeed. I’m glad to say that we stopped paying their long-distance charges years and years ago. I still remember the long sales-pitch when I called to cancel.