While the New Hampshire Public Utilities Commission does not have any jurisdiction over the price or terms of service of pre-paid phone cards, we frequently receive calls from consumers about them. Below is some information provided by the Federal Communications Commission on pre-paid phone cards.What Is a Pre-paid Phone Card?
A pre-paid phone card is a card you purchase (for a set price) and use to make long distance phone calls. These cards are usually sold in dollar amounts or by number of minutes.
Why Do People Buy Pre-paid Phone Cards?
Many people use a pre-paid phone card because of the card’s convenience - it can be used anywhere and, since you pay in advance, there is no bill. Pre-paid phone cards are popular among travelers, students, people who frequently call overseas, and those who haven’t selected a long-distance service. In addition, pre-paid phone cards are sold in convenient places, such as newsstands, post offices, and stores.
What about International Calls?
Rates for international calls can vary dramatically, based on the country that you call or the way that you make the call. Pre-paid phone cards often offer rates that are much lower than a telephone company’s basic international rates.
How Do I Use a Pre-paid Phone Card?
A toll-free access phone number and a personal identification number (PIN) are usually printed on each phone card. To make a phone call, you dial the access number and then enter the PIN. An automated voice will ask you to enter the phone number you are trying to call, and it will tell you how much time you have left on your card. It might also give you other information/options.
Phone card companies keep track of how much of a card’s calling time is used by the card’s PIN number. You can add time to some pre-paid phone cards, and the added cost can usually be billed to a credit card. If you cannot add time to your card, you will need to buy a new one once all the time has been used. Also, pre-paid phone cards often have expiration dates. Make sure to keep track of the date your card expires so you don’t lose unused minutes.
Who Makes Your Phone Card Work?
What Are Common Complaints about Pre-paid Phone Cards?
As pre-paid phone cards are increasing in popularity, some common complaints are becoming evident. They are:
How Can I Avoid the Problems Associated with Pre-paid Phone Cards?
Make sure you understand the rates for your particular phone card. Also check the expiration date, look for a toll-free customer service number provided with or on the card, and make sure you understand the instructions on how to use the card. You may also want to ask your friends and family to recommend cards they have used and liked.
What Should I Do if My Pre-paid Phone Card Doesn't Work?
First, try calling the customer service number provided
with the card. If that doesn’t work, call or write
the state Attorney
General's Consumer Protection Bureau. You can also
file a complaint or research the company through your
local Better Business Bureau, or contact the Federal
Trade Commission (FTC). To contact the FTC, call 1-877-FTC-HELP