Business and Consumer Alert Not all 10-10 calling plans are equal

Do the math before dialing a 10-10-xxxx long distance dial around

San Diego, CA. 10-10 long distance calling numbers are available to anyone who has a land line - a phone connected to a home or business nationwide. The purpose is to make lesser expensive long distance calls. It's also a way to make the cheaper calls and still keep an existing carrier such as AT&T, Sprint, Quest, MCI-WorldCom or Cox Communications.

10-10 long distance numbers are also known as dial around plans in the industry. Users of 10-10 numbers are dialing around their long distance carrier to make long distance calls at a substantially lower rate.

When someone calls a 10-10-xxxx telephone, their call is routed around the local carrier through what is known as the PIC (Pre subscribed Interchange Carrier) code. The local phone company uses the PIC Code to route a call through to the customer's long distance carrier of choice. A company's actual PIC is usually the last digits of their 10-10- number. PICs are also known as CIC - carrier identification code.

Consumers and business are warned not to call a 10-10xxxx number unless their rates are known. A 10-10-xxxx number may be advertised on TV, however, that does not mean you will be getting the lowest rate. Research of tolls and pricing policies is a must to avoid getting ripped off.

Take the 10-10-297 number, as an example. They are advertising on TV and in print medias around the country promoting 3 cents a minute on long distance calls, with a minor mention both on TV and in print, of the fact that there is a 39 cent connection fee on ALL calls.

Here is a sample of the cost per call based on minutes used (before any local, state or federal tax) by using 10-10-297.

One Minute - 42 cents Two Minutes - 45 cents Three Minutes- 48 cents Four Minutes - 51 cents Five Minutes - 54 cents Ten Minutes - 69 cents

A 10 minute call is 6.9 cents a minute while a 20 minute call cost 4.95 cents per minute and a 30 minute call cost about 4 cents per minute using 10-10-297.

The danger for consumers on this particular number is the ad's major focus and emphasis is on the 3 cents a minute and potential users, therefore, may wrongly conclude the call will be made at the 3 cent a minute rate.

In the print ad, the 3 cents letters are almost an inch high, whereas the letters in the line and 39 cents to Connect is only 1/8 inch size type. Similar tactics are used in the TV ads. The major imprint left on the viewer or reader is 3 cents a minute . The ICFE also discovered these 3 cents a minute rates apply to new users only.

There are several bona fide 10-10 calling plans easily located on the Internet. It's also a good way to compare 10-10 calling plans, from the least expensive to the more costly. Check out: www.saveonphone.com. Or www.calling-plans.com. And www.tele-rates.com.