A $26 Collect Call!!! Thanks Intellicall Operator Services

remember pay phones?Gadget Man left his iPhone in a taxi in Florida. He tried to chase the cab, but it sped away unknowingly. I suppose he needed to vent, so he called me collect from the airport. Of course, I accepted the charges. Receiving a collect call from one’s husband while he is out of town is frightening (at least it is for me, who tends to imagine the worst). Anyway, we just got the bill for that four minute telephone call — 23 BUCKS! The call was actually taxed an additional three dollars and three cents! I was shocked and pissed! It seems a telephone company can bilk you for whatever it wants! It could have been $1,000 for all we can do about it. I took a chance and called the 1-800 number for Intellicall Operator Services, the billing company listed on my AT & T statement and spoke to “Janice.” “How can you justify this?” I inquired. “Oh, I don’t justify anything, I’m just the billing agent, ma’m. What I can do is give you a forty percent adjustment.” “Ok.” I was shocked and thrilled. “Next time, you should ask what the rates will be before you accept a collect call.” Janice suggested. I though about her suggestion, “But the call was completely automated, who would I have asked?” “I’m not sure if you can ask when it is automated.” Janice replied. Ok, lessons learned here: (1) Always call to dispute something you think is unfair, you may catch a break. (2) Collect calls are a license to steal, so try to talk to a “live” person if you have to make that call. (3) Don’t lose your cell phone.

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17 Responses to “A $26 Collect Call!!! Thanks Intellicall Operator Services”

  1. Eva in Oakland Says:

    Thank you so much for sharing your story. Last month a made a similar phone call to my husband from a payphone in Groveland, California. I had no other choice as cel phones do not work in that area. $33.00 for five minutes. Intellicall. Legal Robbery!

  2. Lisa Says:

    I can not believe Intellicall charged me $30 for a 5 min. collect call. CRAZY!!!!

  3. Larry Says:

    Same here.

    Here is the trick. If you ever need to make such a collect call, instead of giving your name, give the number of the phone, quickly. Try again if there isn’t time. Then the party can call you back at that phone and not be billed $26.

  4. Lisa Says:

    I must’ve been lucky — a 21-minute collect call cost us $56!! My husband was in the hospital and called me collect. Today I called to ask if they could reduce it… yep, 40% as long as I agreed that I could never get another collect call to my number. OK with me.

    • moodymommy Says:

      You had to agree NEVER to get a collect call to your number?  That sounds awfully harsh.  I wonder what the FTC would have to say about that.  Sorry and I hope your husband is better soon!

  5. Bobby Says:

    Same story for me. A 6 minute collect call (I doubt it was really that long) and charged $26 plus a $3 billing fee and taxes. Just called Ron Johnson at ILD Billing Services 800-433-4518 who claims to simply do the billing for Intellicall. I got a 30% discount. He would not do more and said that the rates were approved by the state PUC. He said to complain to my local phone company. I doubt that will do much good.

  6. Sean Says:

    What I don’t get is how deregulation translates to deceptive advertising and misleading information. There was a sticker on the pay phone I used (which was at a BART station). I read the whole thing. I made the call. I listened to the prompts. There was no mention *anywhere* of the $15 minimum (got charged $20 for a 30-second call). This isn’t a case of negligence on my part. It’s obvious that Intellicall and companies like them are trying to mislead customers. Customers should contact their congress people and complain about this. Hopefully, over time, this issue will gain momentum.

    It’s fine to have deregulation, but full disclosure should *always* be required. So much for deregulation leading to lower prices for consumers. :-\

  7. Jack M. Coelho Says:

    Similar situation…
    My live-in partner accepted a collect call from a close mutual friend who had arrived, unexpectedly, at the airport some 75mi. distant. My current phone bill shows that I was charged $32.21 for the call, (it was all of 30 seconds)plus an additional $6.86 for some undocumented “service”, for a total of $39.07. The bill states that I was charged for a 3 minute call…
    When I called the 1-800-637-4009 (the no. listed for Intellicall Operator Services) “Ray” answered identifying himself as a rep. for ILD Teleservices. So, ILD and Intellicall Operator Services are one and the same, yet they bill, and charge seperately. To cut to the chase, “Ray” claimed that his company(s) has/have the right to charge $1000. per minute if they choose, and they do not feel the need to inform the caller, or the receiver of the call, of the per minute charge before sending or accepting the call. They also have a “minimum” charge, which in my case was 3 minutes, even though the actual call was under a minute. “Ray” did not know what his company(s) standard per minute charge was for collect calls and couldn’t tell me who could give me that information.
    I told “Ray” that I was going to inform my state representative, the FCC, my local telephone company, and then post the aforementioned incident online- if he did not completely expunge the charges. “Ray” agreed to errase all charges, post the errasure on my next phone bill, and he told me I will no longer be able to receive collect calls from his company(s).
    I intend to inform my state representatives office of the incident, and I encourage others to take the time to do so. We need to utilize the power of collective concern.

    • moodymommy Says:

      Good for you for holding your own and speaking up!  Please keep us posted on your efforts.  As I recall from my attorney days when we tried to sue a telephone company in a class action, the FCC has virtually no power over pricing, but all of that could have changed since that was long ago.

  8. Renee Lindke Says:

    Intellicall operator services charged me $32.02 for a COLLECT call from Atlanta airport to Col9o. In trying to get an answer for the high cost I was infomed they were just the ‘billing’ company. What a crock — then they attach another tax “ZPDI” of $16.59 to that amount.!!! Don’t use any phones in an airport- they will scalp you.

    • moodymommy Says:

      That just reminds me that I should get a calling card (do they even exist anymore) for emergencies when the cell isn’t working.  I remember I went on vacation in Arizona and my cell did not get reception where I was staying so I had to use the hotel phone and pay through the nose! Sorry this happened to you.

  9. Jack Says:

    Call your regular phone service provider and tell them you want to block any third party billing on your account.

    Frontier suggested it and then put the block on my account.

  10. Indy Says:

    My friend’s car broke down & she had a dead cell phone battery. She called collect and I got a bill for $36.43, which included sales tax at 7%. I called Intellicall Operator Services, d/b/a Custom Teleconnect, d/b/a ILDTeleservices Inc, and I was told that the bill included a “$5.00 property fee” for the owner of the pay phone, and a $7.00 donation to local charities!” I told them that state law does not allow sales tax for “property fees or charitable contributions.” They told me that there is nothing I can do because “they’ve already been paid by my local phone company.”

    My local phone company removed the charge and submitted the matter to ILD for direct billing after I notified them of the dispute. It will be interesting to see if ILD et al wants to deal with this further, as the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division found this ‘interesting.”

    • moodymommy Says:

      Love the “Muckraker” email address! I guess times have changed and they’ve upped their charge significantly.  Good for you for fighting and I hope it turns out well. Keep us posted!  

  11. Gary McGath Says:

    My phone bill showed a charge of $25.03 from Intellicall. After recovering from the shock, I remembered that I had accepted a collect call from a friend in a difficult situation on a day and from a location matching the bill. That was from Worcester, MA, to Nashua, New Hampshire, 6 minutes. I’m never accepting another collect call again!!!

  12. Peter DiBartolo Says:

    The City of Bridgeport, CT has elected, probably through our friends in Hartford, to use Intellicall in its jail…the right to “one telephone call” for people who have been arrested is pretty much out the window…when the inmate tries to call, the receiver of the call receives that convoluted message about setting up an account, using a credit card, etc. Even if one is able to meet the requirements, a call about 2 miles away costs $33.00 One’s punishment for knowing someone who has been arrested is swift and immediate…and we talk about lack of civil rights in other countries!!! This really appears to be a company that has friends in government! I wish the press would investigate this one. There are so many fairly priced companies that would be happy to provide this service at a fair price.


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