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Dialing for Dollars

March 09, 1997

On Jan. 26 you printed a letter ("Saving on Calls") in response to an earlier article regarding how to phone the U.S. from overseas. That letter described a company called RapidLink, which apparently has low rates for calling home when out of the country.

I recently called RapidLink to sign up, and found there is a "catch" in their service. Although there is no setup or monthly service fee--you pay only for the calls you make--when you first sign up, they charge your credit card $25 (or $50 or $100, depending on the option you choose). Thereafter, whenever you make a call, they deduct the cost of the call from the $25 you have on deposit; when you have only a few dollars left in your account, they charge your credit card another $25.

More importantly, they are less than completely candid about this arrangement. When I inquired about their service, I asked a couple of times about any up-front costs, and was told there are none (which is strictly true, if misleading). It was only after I had given them my name, address and credit card number that they explained they would be charging my card the $25 immediately.

For someone who makes frequent overseas calls to the U.S. this is not a bad deal, but for those who want the account only for an occasional call, it could take a very long time to use the initial $25.

ED SCHOCH

Los Angeles

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