Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Touchtone a Feature Still - Only In Canada?

This is a pretty simple post, and I just wanted to share it - the lighter side of telecom.

Bell Canada still breaks out Touchtone service as a line item in our phone bills, charging us $2.80 a month for the privilege. As if we had a choice? It's like one of those silly questions I always wonder about, like how do they get the stripe in Stripe toothpaste? Or, where does baby oil come from? Groan....

Fellow Canadian blogger Mark Goldberg read the same story as me about this in the weekend Globe & Mail, and I'm just going to steer you to Mark's post. I really have nothing to add, but in this day and age, it's one of those things that looks so anachronistic.

The article (it's really an opinion piece) mentions how other Canadian ILECs have managed to get it off their billing, and you can be sure it doesn't show up on the bills from alternate providers for dial tone. But for Bell, it's all about "clarity" as the article states - they just want to be sure you know you're getting touchtone - and that you're paying for it whether you like it or not.

It's a small thing, and I'm sure lots of other ILECs still do this - and worse - but y'know, it's also one of those things you remember when you seek "clarity" to remember why you left your telco in the first place. As we teach our kids, if you don't have anything nice to say, keep it to yourself!


ipcom said...

Posted by: Jim Courtney

It's tough to break those legacy telco business models. Maybe they should top up the basic charge with the TouchTone charge included and then offer a Rotary Dial Discount. After all, you should get some benefit for using extra finger muscle power instead of electrons.

But I do recall when TouchTone was first introduced (early 70's), paying $2.80 a month for TouchTone made you a "premium" user of Bell Canada. An extra service!! You can afford TouchTone!! It was hip! and considered a huge change in the dinosaur age of telcos.

Of course, if you're using Skype 2.5 beta, make sure that you have the latest build ( Cause the touchtones (DTMF's) were broke in the initial beta release. A real sceptic would say Skype was trying to emulate the legacy phone companies. (gr). But in this age of competition there was no charge for the "upgrade" ("bug fix"?).

ipcom said...

Posted by: Jeff

The interesting exercise is to try to get them to remove the touch tone service from your line.

If its on your bill (assuming Canadian regulations are anything like the U.S.), its a seperate tariff item and you can choose not to subscribe to that tariff.

It gets funny, however, when you realize that its actually *more* work, on modern telco switching equipment to *not* have touch-tone enabled, and to enable pulse dialing.

I would say there's a better than average chance that they'll take the charge off your bill, but that you will still have touch-tone service.

ipcom said...

Posted by: Andrew

I had a long chat with a Bell billing agent yesterday regarding this. I called to see if I could lower my 75$ phone bill from Bell to 19.99 as that was what the same usage and more services using Vonage.ca would cost me, and now that I am Phonegnome enabled, all I really want is 911 service, nothing else.

In the end, he basically threw his head on his desk and said, 'yup, were getting murdered, thank goodness I am not on a commission - do you want to cancel now?'... what are the current migration numbers from Telco's? they must be huge.