$30 For AT&T Operator Assistance?

by Categorized: Telecom Date:

(THOMAS J. DODD RESEARCH CENTER/UCONN)


Today’s Bottom Line column:

Remember the operator-assisted telephone call? Way before Skype, FaceTime and voice-over-Internet phone systems, people often used an operator for person-to-person, international and third-party calls — even calls made from pay phones.

Operator-assisted calls are still around, though The Bottom Line had not heard anyone mention one for years until Margaret Duffy of Madison recently described her experience with AT&T.

Duffy decided she needed an operator’s help this summer when she became concerned after failing to reach her diabetic daughter for a day. So she did what Americans did for decades: She called an operator for help.
The operator agreed to help but told Duffy there would be a charge. Duffy agreed without asking what that charge might be. The operator then checked if her daughter’s phone was off the hook, if perhaps she was in the midst of a 15-hour phone call or if there was something wrong with the phone line. As it turned out, her daughter was fine but her telephone line apparently wasn’t.
Duffy’s next phone bill arrived with a charge for almost $30 she didn’t recognize. So she called AT&T. Yup, it was the operated-assisted call.

More . . .

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