This is going to sound very close to other reports on this extremely dishonorable company written on this and other sites, but I thought I would add the details of my particular experience to the growing chorus.
I was staying in Rome and naively responded to an advertisement in the form of a sticker placed on pay-phones near the Vatican. The ad - which did not really look like an ad - read "International Dialing Instructions" and gave a phone number to dial. The ad did NOT list calling rates.
I made a number of calls home using the number in the ad from my room at the B&B where I was staying. There were two choices in the automated menu to use a credit card or to call collect. The first couple times I chose the credit card route. I made four calls this way. A couple were for 1 minute or less since I got my home answering machine and a couple were on the order of 5 to 10 minutes. When I returned home and got my credit card bill, these four calls totaling less than 20 minutes of talk, showed up as over $140 in charges on my credit card!!!
I also made several collect calls using the same service. I did this because when I tried to use my credit card, an operator came on to say that the credit card was invalid. (So ironically, the reason for several of my calls home were to have my wife investigate why my card was being denied - a task difficult for me to accomplish from Rome.
As it turns out, the only suspect behavior on my credit card and probably the reason it was being denied was my using it to charge the earlier calls.) I racked up four such collect calls using this service over a couple days for a total of a about 40 minutes of talk time. For this, my local phone bill came with additional $230 in charges!
Combined I was billed about $370 for a bit less than 60 minutes of total talk time over 8 calls. That's about $6.15 per minute on average. Competitive calling cards for dialing from Italy to the U.S. are typically available from 3 to 12 cents per minute! So we are talking about a company that charges on the order of 100 times the going rate. Moreover, this little fact was never announced in any of their automated menus on the credit card calls, nor was it mentioned by the operator during the collect calls.
Their defense is that I should have asked about the rates. Of course that was never an option on the credit card calls. With regard to the collect calls, for services where the charges are conventionally small to negligible, it simply does not to occur to me to ask, "By the way, are you are charge me the equivalent of a round-trip flight for a few calls?"
Both me and my wife and been on the phone numerous times with the customer service department of these thieves. They offer a "one time 40% discount" and if really pressed will up it to 50%. To me this is still unacceptable. I have disputed the charges with my credit card, and got my local phone company (who is billing me for the collect calls) to suspend the charges, but no permanent solution has been worked out. For me getting the phone charges reduced has become of secondary importance; what i really want now is for this company to be put out of business, its profits confiscated and its executives jailed.