Letter: Phone 'rip-offs'

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The Independent Online
THE DIRECTOR General of Oftel, Don Cruickshank, is to be congratulated on referring mobile phone costs to the Monopolies Commission (report, 6 March).

The charges by Cellnet, BT and Vodafone, which Mr Cruickshank describes as a "rip off", involve another dimension not emphasised in recent reports. Of the five billion calls made from landlines to mobile telephones, a significant number connect to recorded messages stating "no one is available, please try later". For this useless service BT are charging the caller a premium rate of 32p per minute.

Last year my company received a bill from BT for over pounds 190 for calls made by a temporary secretary frantic to contact her boyfriend, whom she was phoning every few minutes. Over a period of a few hours she incurred these exorbitant costs because he had turned off his phone and she was unable to leave a message. If she had telephoned a landline and there was no reply no costs would have been incurred.

BT are required, as a matter of contract, to publish their charges but nowhere in their leaflets is it made explicit that a premium charge of 32p is made for every landline call made to a mobile phone that is turned off.

I and millions of others are being charged for this ingenious so-called service which is quite useless. Perhaps the Monopolies Commission should investigate.

PAUL WINNER

London SW1

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