The big long distance carriers use all kinds of advertising gimmicks to convince you
theirs is a better deal. Yet, anyone who hires famous TV stars has to
pay premium royalties and passes the expense on to the customer.
Let us examine one such gimmick. A long distance carrier starts any of
its commercials by asserting you cannot buy anything for a dollar these
days. This opening is designed to convince you that a dollar is not much money.
Next, a celebrity states that he or she can get 20 minutes of long
distance for "under" a dollar. The "under" means they sell 20 minutes
for 99¢. That distinction is rather silly: They have just asserted a dollar
is worth virtually nothing, but are now playing penny games.
Anyway, the gimmick is in giving you the impression that you are paying
5¢ a minute with their deal, at least for the first 20 minutes. In reality,
you are paying 5¢ a minute if and only if your call lasts exactly 20
minutes. If it lasts more, you are paying more. If it lasts less, you are
still paying more.
If your call lasts 10 minutes, it still costs you a dollar. That means you
are paying 10¢ a minute.
If you talk for 5 minutes, you still pay the dollar--or 20¢ a minute. If
you talk for 3 minutes, you are paying 33¢ a minute. A 2-minute call
costs you 50¢ a minute. And if you only talk for a minute, well you pay a
dollar for that minute.
The strangest thing about it all is that even if you happen to talk for
exactly 20 minutes, you may still be overpaying: Several carriers charge you 4.5¢ - 4.9¢.
So, be careful about those great "deals" celebrities are paid to tell you about!
P.S. I originally wrote this article for http://PhoneCowboy.com/ and have slightly modified it
to fit the E2 format.