Monday, July 27, 2009

"We'll Charge Whatever We Can Get Away With"

PCCW (our telephone company) has told me they cannot tell me what it costs to call Korea because "it depends."  I can't tell if they want to know my phone number or  the number I'm trying to call in Korea, but either way, it is surprising that there is not a simple answer to my request.  Here is my message to them:
I am amazed that you do not seem to have any information online on what the cost per minute is for calling on 0060. I'm trying to find the cost to call Korea, and get to the following "dead end". Perhaps I've missed the webpage, but I've been looking for it for 5 minutes unsuccessfully. Please let me know where the page of charges is, and I hope you can make it easier to find.
And here is their reply:
Dear Mr. Bosco,

Thank you for emailing PCCW.

>From your message, we understand that you would like to obtain the calling rates from Hong Kong to Korea for our IDD 0060 service.

As there are many ongoing IDD 0060 promotions offering to different customers from time to time. Therefore, in order to retrieve the most accurate calling rate information for our customer, please be invited to contact directly our 24 hours IDD Customer Service hotline at 10013, whereby our representatives will be most happy to provide your requested information after checking with your account record.

Alternatively, you may provide us with the following information in coming email, so that we may further check with our record and reply you shortly:

- Concerned Telephone Number
- Account Registered Full Name

Should you have any further enquiries, please feel free to e-mail us again.

Yours sincerely,

[NAME] Wong
Customer Service Executive
PCCW Email Team
I especially like the extra ">" at the start of the message, suggesting they are not much better than I am at using email. The part I've highlighted in red means that they are charging different customers different prices, and so they need to check "who I am" to see how much I have to pay. No wonder there is no webpage providing the information (though with bit of programming, they could do that, but it would make their practice of charging different prices for different customers more obvious.) Since we do not have different long distance "packages" like in the US, I have to wonder how they decide how much to charge me. Dealing with monopolies is like tilting at windmills.

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