I read with interest your article “Hung Up by High Hotel Phone Fees?” (Oct. 3). One more caveat to hotel guests trying to avoid high fees: Recently I used my calling card to charge long-distance calls from Reno to Toronto. Not having read the fine print, I assumed the charges on my home telephone bill would be routed to my designated long-distance carrier. I was more than surprised when I found the calls had been routed through another carrier at 85 cents per minute, racking up a charge of $54 for a one-hour call instead of 10 cents a minute by AT&T.; My bill for all long-distance calls came to $274. My local phone company, on the first call, graciously reduced the bill by $50, and on a second call to a supervisor, by another $50. As always, let the buyer beware.
You can add this one to your list of hotel phone charge problems. While staying at a Sheraton in Dallas, I made several phone calls to New York. If the person I wanted to reach was there, he would answer within three rings; otherwise his voice mail system would pick up. I was in and out of a seminar all day, so leaving a voice mail message wouldn’t do. If there was no answer after three rings, I would hang up.
When reviewing my bill, I found that I was charged for a three-minute call, at $4.50, for each time I called New York but hung up after three rings. I complained until the charges were removed.
Another alternative to a calling card is to use your cell phone. I do a fair amount of traveling and have found that my cell phone costs 99 cents a minute in major cities with no setup charge. Although not a steal, 99 cents is often much cheaper than dialing long distance using hotel direct-dial and is sometimes even cheaper than using a calling card.