BT revamps Chargecard service

BT is to relaunch a service which allows users to dial from any phone and charge the call to their own personal bill, with the introduction of the Platinum Chargecard.

The new Chargecard will appear at the beginning of July, six months after BT narrowly avoided action by the regulator Oftel over its subsidised low prices of the Chargecard service.

Chargecard allows calls made from fixed, mobile or pay phones throughout the world to be charged to the user’s bill by way of a PIN number dialled at the beginning of a call. There is no charge for taking up the service.

The new Platinum Chargecard will be aimed at travelling business people and includes a new feature – a PIN number that you can change to make it easier to remember – a feature already available with bank cash debit and credit cards.

Business users staying in hotels wanting to transmit computer data through their mobile phones will be able to charge the call to their own number rather than running up expensive hotel telephone bills.

BT Chargecard has been dogged since its 1996 launch. A dispute developed with Oftel last year when the then director general, Don Cruickshank, said BT had kept Chargecard calls artificially low by subsidising the service. Oftel claimed BT was losing 8.7m on Chargecard.

Eventually BT capitulated, formulating a new business plan to take the Chargecard division into the black. As a result some call charges tripled. Inland direct dialled calls on Chargecard cost 20p a minute.

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