Every once in a while, we need to be reminded of this; in my case I was helping a friend with their DSL connection and in the process reviewed his monthly phone bill.
He was paying $1.00 a month for a Phone Company supplied 25 foot extension cord. Since this was installed when he bought the house 6 years ago, he's paid about $60 plus tax for it (and will continue paying forever, unless we change it).
I grabbed the offending cord and took it back to the phone company. Instant $12/yr saving, replaced by a one-time outlay of about $7. You can do the same.
Phone company supplied phone:
In most cases you need at least one leased phone from your Teleco. If you don't (doesn't hurt to phone and ask), take it back and save (we can't, but if we could that would save $42/year).
Still, there's no reason to get fancy here. Find out what the cheapest leased phone is, and haul you unit back and get one. You don't actually have to hook it up, go ahead and buy whatever you like (often, right at the same Teleco office, if you want to save a step).
Check your bill for other leased items that can be easily replaced/upgraded/removed at any Radio Shack, and haul the offending bits back to the Office. Once you do, be sure to confirm (next month) that your bill has changed to reflect it.
Some companies will warn you about how much it will cost if they ever have to service your line with non-leased items hooked up. The short answer is to remove all telephone stuff except the leased phone and confirm that the problem remains. If so, leave it hooked up that way and phone the trouble line.
Here in SK, SaskTel has a new service whereby for an additonal dollar (it might be $2, can't remember) they will monitor and repair your phone line & leased equipment, and will identify any 3rd party product that may cause it, all at no charge. After 2 years, the fee is removed from your bill while the service remains for the life of the residential line. Not bad. Without this service, the customer has to pay for a service call and any repair bill whenver the problem is past the "Customer Connection Point", which is a fancy way of saying a box on the outside wall of your house (even if a Teleco installed line or equipment is at fault on the inside of the residence).
If anyone wants, go ahead and post what you found and how much $ you will now save for the rest of your wired life.
Here in Newfoundland and Labrador, we have to pay for the Halo Statues. Our phone company, Aliant, is quite reasonable and will send someone out to either install or disable these items. When I first heard this, I called up the phone company (it was Newtel at the time) and asked what a Halo Statue was and did I have one in my house. They told me that in the early days of telephones here in the province, people would pick up the phone and say "Hello, is that you?". This was pronounced as "halo statue" by certain persons who had a distinct Newfoundland accent. Thus, the term for phone for many to this day is a "halo statue".
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Is it possible that someone, somewhere in Bell Canada's service area still has a pulse dial exchange?
Aside from attempting a call with some phones that have a pulse/tone switch that can be set in the "wrong" position, you can check if pulse is still supported by attempting to dial by rapidly hitting the "hang-up doohickey". Don't go dialing Tokyo or anything, just try rapid hits with about a second pause between a series. Stop if you hear a ring and hang up. Actually, just losing the dial tone may be enough. Especially don't attempt to dial a number this way that even comes close to having a 9 for a first digit (you know, 911 ...).
tap tap tap (pause)
tap tap tap tap (pause)
tap tap tap (pause)
... should be the equivalent of dialing 343 with a pulse dial system.
This kind of charge is pretty common with US Telecos where either there is still pulse dialing supported somewhere, or where there isn't and they forgot to tell anybody (nice revenue stream).
Who knows, you might be able to get it removed just by letting them know you're on to the scam. I'm sure they count on at least a few people who look at the charge and think "Naw, we need that tone dialing, better leave that service enabled."
Slashdot had a link recently that pointed to a Washington Post article about extra "fees" and how they add up. Clearly there's no rhyme or reason because:
one Credit Card company in the US charges $US 9.95 to pay the bill by telephone ...
apparently a lot of US banks add a charge to your statement if you don't use your ATM card a minimum of 3 times a month...
ATM cards and Debit Cards being entirely different animals in America, banks will usually charge you extra if you insist on just an ATM card.
While the "extra" charge for tone dialling form Bell may seem pointless, don't forget that there are many communities (particularly in Northeastern Ontario) which still have party lines. Until all these units are replaced with full private lines, we'll have these apparent anomalies on our phone bills.
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