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Consumer Advisory Bulletin- June 2005

"Dial 10-10" -- But Only if You Know all the Details

Consumer Tips on "Dial-Around" Long-distance Phone Services:

Consumers face a flood of ads for " 10-10" long-distance services - also called "dial-around" services because customers can bypass their regular long-distance company by dialing a seven-digit number starting with 10-10. Anyone can dial up a 10-10 service.

Dial-around services offer many rate plans, and some may give consumers a better rate in certain circumstances. But some ads for 10-10 services are confusing, and some are just plain misleading. And no single plan is right for everyone. The challenge for consumers is to study the details, shop around, and make the right choice for their needs.

Here are consumer tips to evaluate dial-around or 10-10 numbers:

  • Study all PRICE details. An ad may promise "10-cents a minute," but there may be monthly fees or surcharges that make the service a lot more costly. There may be minimum charges per call. If the service advertises "up to 20 minutes for $1" even a one-minute call probably will cost you $1. (You can get complete information by dialing a 10-10 number plus "00" to reach an operator with their details.)
  • Study all RESTRICTIONS. Sometimes the advertised best rates apply only at certain times of the day or days of the week. There may be geographic restrictions. (Many plans do not include calls within the state.) There may be promotional restrictions - rates that are good for only the first thirty or sixty days.
  • Know YOUR calling pattern and compare 10-10 rates. Where you call, when you call, and how long you talk all affect whether a 10-10 number makes sense for you.
  • Consider a low-volume 10-10 option if you make just a few long distance calls. Some people can eliminate using a permanent long-distance carrier - and its monthly minimums or surcharges. (You would pay about $1 per month to your local phone company instead.) Then, you choose one of the 10-10 services that has no minimums and has low per-minute fees to make your long-distance calls.

For more information or to file a complaint, contact the Attorney General's Consumer Protection Division, Des Moines, Iowa 50319. Call 515-281-5926.

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