Right of Reply: Angus Porter

BT's director of marketing replies to a report on telecommunications pricing which concluded that BT's residential call rates are currently the most expensive
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The Independent Culture
READERS OF The Independent could be forgiven for feeling a little confused about the cost of using the telephone. On Friday, 3 September they read of the launch of a new package, called BT Together. Call charges, they learnt, would "continue to tumble".

By Monday, however, the position for BT's customers had suddenly become bleaker. A comparison of different companies' charges managed to completely ignore BT Together altogether and reported an analyst's advice to "sign up with another operator". Perhaps the analyst didn't read his copy of Friday's Independent.

In fact, BT Together offers its customers a penny a minute for local calls at evenings and weekends; two pence for the corresponding national calls; and three pence and four pence for local and national daytime calls respectively.

For national daytime calls, NTL is marginally cheaper at three pence a minute, with CWC and Telewest almost twice as expensive as BT Together. For local daytime calls, BT Together and NTL both offer a three-pence rate, a rate which is half a penny cheaper than CWC and Telewest.

At other times, there are very small differences between rates, with CWC being marginally the cheapest for local calls, but conversely it also has marginally the most expensive rates for national calls.

Any phone company can pick out times and routes that will favour themselves on individual prices. But what matters to the customers is the overall cost of their service - and there, by any standards, BT is up with the best.

But, beyond just a simple price, customers desire a package that will include both quality and service.

It's surely the combination of attractive pricing and customer commitment that keeps customers with British Telecom and which brings back so many who have been lured away by apparent short-term benefits.