Recently I stumbled upon an article by an Australian consumer watchdog group that had some interesting statistics on phone cards.
I myself am an avid user of phone cards since I love to travel so I wanted to weigh in on these stats myself to share my insights with the goal of helping consumers find the best phone card.
1. 48% of cards applied a daily service charge or fee once the card is activated
The phone card industry has positioned itself as an industry that offers customers the cheapest ways to make international calls unfortunately with this type of positioning it is forced the phone card industry 24 ever offer the cheapest call me rates overseas leaving a lot of them out of business within a few years.
In order for these companies to continue they are forced to use other methods to pad out their profit margins, personally I don’t have a problem with this as long as the additional costs are also passed on to the end consumer, unfortunately in a lot of cases this is not true this is especially true in the case of daily services charges which offer little to zero value-added back to the customer.
So, what is a daily service charge?
A daily service charge is a fee that is deducted from your phone card regardless of whether you are using it or not.
Even though it’s called a daily service charge it doesn’t mean to say that you’ll be charged everyday typically you to be monthly weekly or in some cases every other day.
According to Angus from phonecardpoint.com.au you should avoid phone cards that come with daily service charges without exception.
2. Only 28% cards had any sort of in-store information about rates, terms and conditions
If you are looking to purchase your phone card from a newsagent or supermarket don’t expect the retailer to have any useful information lying around the place typically the information about the phone cards will be stored on the phone card is health now most phone cards are obviously are about the size of a credit card so you’re not likely to get all of the information you need to make a smart buying decision.
The information on the phone cards are mostly just marketing designs to get you to purchase the card and the information that you really want to know is usually omitted.
Amateur this is one of the reasons why I always recommend using an online phone card retailer who specializes in selling phone cards this means that you can call up their customer service team and ask them the important questions around which cards are best for which countries?
Which cards come with connection fees? what are the call block times? are the cards rechargeable? how often do you need to recharge the phone card? what happens if my phone card expires? what happens if there are technical issues, etc.?
These kinds of questions that newsagents and supermarket workers will not be able to answer.
3. 94% of salespeople couldn’t give the customer any information about calling rates
This statistic is not too surprising since most newsagents or supermarkets who are having to deal with hundreds or even thousands of different products, I think it’s a bit much to expect these people to know the ins and outs of the phone cards that they are selling.
My advice is to find a phone card company that specializes only in phone cards this does a couple of things one it allows you to get the answers to your very specific questions also if they are they good customer service team they will ask are you specific questions based on where you’re calling to how long you going to be calling for, etc.
Based on these questions they will be able to find you the best possible phone card.
4. 7% of cards could not be activated
This is not a problem that I’ve experienced personally but I do have friends who have had this problem mostly due to purchasing phone cards from newsagents in supermarkets where the phone card has actually already expired but this is quite rare and I think the onus is on the supermarket or newsagent retailer to stay on top of when their products actually expire.
I think the onus is on the supermarket or newsagent retailer to stay on top of when their products actually expire.
Generally with phone cards the expiration date is triggered on first year so most cards will have between a 3 months 6 months or 12 months expiration date giving users plenty of time to use the credit on their phone cards.
5. 9% had poor call quality
What are the ways phone cards are able to offer such cheap pricing sometimes up to 90% discounts on international calls is because they use cheaper carrier lights that connect customers to people overseas?
As with any product or service that offers super cheap rates you were going to have to put up with various thanks one of them being poor quality audio which for me personally is an a big deal as long as I can have a conversation.
The main problem that causes a lot of frustration is when you run into a technical issue which can be not being able to connect your call or experiencing cross lines, calls dropping out or on some occasions being overcharged these are to me much more frustrating than poor audio quality.
5. With 23% of cards the number of minutes provided was significantly less than the number advertised
This is just one of those problems that as a phone card holder you kind of have to deal with. I can’t remember having a phone card where I was able to use the exact number of minutes that the phone card delivered and this is for many reasons one a lot of phone cards have block x which means that you’re not charge per minute but you’re charged every 3 minutes 4 minutes or maybe even 10 minutes and to get the exact number of minutes would mean that you would need to end the call exactly at specific times which is just not practical.
for example if a phone card has a block time of 3 minutes and you only talk for one minute then you are in fact actually charged for the entire 3 minute block which is one of the main reasons why you are very unlikely to get the exact minutes that are displayed on the phone card.
The other reason why is because when you’re coming close to ending your minutes if you don’t have enough if you don’t have enough credit on your card for the next block your call will just disconnect and you are be able to reconnect because you don’t have enough money to make the next call