Last week, it was widely reported in the press that Telus was ordered to refund the “network access charge” ($2.95 per month) that was slapped on customers who did not use its long-distance network. The news is a reminder to check your phone bill and see if you are still paying a fee for the privilege of making long-distance calls through your local phone company.
Bell, for instance, charges a $5.95 monthly long distance network charge, which it claims was introduced “to support investments to enhance and expand our network” and its best per minute calling rate within Canada and to the U.S. is 5¢ per minute. Telus (TSX: T) charges a $4.95 per month “administration fee” for its long-distance plans and if you don’t pay a “subscription fee” on top of that, calls within Canada cost 7¢ per minute. To call the U.S. requires a monthly subscription of at least $1.95 and the per minute rate is 7¢ per minute. It’s the same story with Primus – a $4.95 monthly network fee and calls within Canada and to the U.S. at 5¢ per minute.
Fortunately, long distance is so competitive that there is no reason to pay any kind of monthly fees to get low rates. One example is Yak, which doesn’t charge any monthly fees and offers calls to Canada and the U.S. for 3.5¢ per minute (If you know of any others, do let us know in the comments). Check your local flyers – the options are plentiful and if you are still paying any kind of long-distance monthly fee, you could switch and painless save at least $5 per month.