Watch out nowadays when using your calling card at a hotel! I stayed at a hotel in Santa Cruz in the winter with lowered rates near the boardwalk. A small sign by the phone in the room said that all phone calls were patched through Zero Plus. No other info. about this or their rates. Plus, the sign said you could use your own calling card on the phone. So I did. There was no operator, just a brief computerized voice prompt to dial your calling card.
Basically, I called my calling card access number as I would anywhere, which I use precisely to avoid scams like this at pay phones and when away from my home phone. I don't like cell phones as they charge too much per month and are highly radioactive, but now I am considering getting one after this. I stayed at the hotel for about 3 or 4 days and called mostly my girlfriend back home each day, mostly for 5 minutes, but two calls were 15 and 20 minutes. After returning from my trip, I received my SBC bill & on the last page there was a $324 charge for Zero Plus' "services" on my calling card calls from that hotel. Normally the calls would cost around $50 on my SBC calling card. When I recieved this SBC phone bill, it demanded payment of about $400 immediately or I'd be disconnected within a week! In addition, when I called SBC, they said they couldn't even see the charges on their computers even though it's on the bill they sent me, so it took about 1 or 2 hours and 2 or 3 representatives for them to figure out what I was talking about. But they were helpful & sympathetic, and removed the demand for instant payment which they said was placed by Zero Plus, & froze the amount in question as a pending claim. However, they referred me to Zero Plus to deal with removing or reducing the charges. I have since read much helpful info about Zero Plus on these consumer complaint net sites & plan to get my bill removed or reduced by Zero Plus to the amount I'd pay normally on my calling card. It is amazing to me that one uses their calling card and then gets charged by a ripoff company when your calling card is for avoiding such things.
It is amazing that a hotel would willingly participate in ripping off its guests --I'll never stay in that place again. It is amazing that such companies can operate freely as they do without much consequence. It is amazing that one can be subject to a service without full disclosure of rates and freedom of choice, in America. It is amazing that we as a country, to encourage tourism and the economy, do not do more to make sure the consumer can travel without being ripped off at such a common place as an ordinary hotel.
Santa Rosa, California