Phonecard deal dials up trouble

It probably comes as no surprise that the telecoms industry charges and tariffs are both confused and complicated.

It is also true that the promotional phonecard industry is riding on a high at present.

One has to wonder just how long this euphoric state is going to last. If the current vogue for inflating the real value on the phonecard premium continues, then I would suggest not very long.

Fox’s Biscuits, Marks & Spencer and Rainbow Co-op all try to suggest the value of the phonecard is based on 20p a minute connected call charge. Apart from one or two obscure BT offerings, that is just not true. If a BT call box sets the standard, then a UK national call costs under 15p a minute, and most promotional phonecards are in the charge band 8p to 10p per connected minute. Indeed, the Fox’s offering suggests that if its card is used in a BT phone box then the already inflated charge will be increased still further.

If the phonecard premium is to continue, then promoters, agencies and phonecard companies must offer fair value to the public, who will not put up with the value distortion for ever. They have a right to perceive fair value and we in the phonecard industry have a duty to make sure they get it. There is no point in finding lots of dead geese just to collect a few golden eggs.

Fred Parker

Managing director

Telecard UK

Peterborough

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