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Local toll calls from hotels

Local toll calls from hotels

Old Jun 7, 15, 5:49 pm
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Local toll calls from hotels

I spent two nights this past weekend at the Westin in Waltham, Mass, and while dialing to the bell desk to have my car brought around for check-out, I noticed on the phone that the Westin charged something like $2.95 for a local car plus a $0.10 per minute surcharge. There were far more significant prices for long distance calls.

I don't know that I've ever made a call from a hotel phone in my life (to a number outside of the hotel); especially so now that we all have cell phones.

It got me to thinking - does anyone ever make local calls from the phone in a hotel where there are these ridiculous charges for both local and long distance calls? Even if you're there on OPM, in a situation where it doesn't matter to you or the person(s) paying for your room, why would anyone ever pay such a high price for a simple call whether it be for business or to order a pizza?

And if so, why?

Also, why do hotels charge so much for local calls? Is this pure profit? If I make a local call from a Westin in Waltham, Mass (or anywhere) is there any cost to the hotel? The phone system is already there...in 2015 how in the world can a hotel charge me so much for such a simple task?
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Old Jun 7, 15, 6:32 pm
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The charges theoretically defray the cost of the phone system. Before mobile phones were common, people were stuck if they needed to make a call. Now, with most people carrying a cell phone, few people need a land line in a hotel room.

I occasionally have a lousy signal and an important call. If there is a significant charge for accessing a toll-free conference line, I have my assistant call me.

There are likely people who either don't pay attention to these charges and get a rude surprise at checkout or who don't care because they expense the calls.
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Old Jun 7, 15, 6:34 pm
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I can't tell you the last time I've used a hotel phone for either an incoming or outgoing call.
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Old Jun 7, 15, 6:38 pm
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I remember years ago before mobile phones being charged ridiculous amounts for calls back to Australia. I queried 2. One I had made at let's say 2.15 and the length of call was listed as 5 minutes, then the next call was listed as started at 2.16. I questioned how I could possibly be making the second call 1 minute later than when I first dialled when I supposedly spoke for 5 minutes on the first call. They continued to play dumb and make out they had no idea what I was talking about. I just paid the amount. Wasn't worth the hassle of me complaining for half an hour. I just wanted to check out.
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Old Jun 7, 15, 8:52 pm
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Local toll calls from hotels

or foreign travelers with high roaming charges
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Old Jun 7, 15, 11:03 pm
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Thinking the answer is simply monetary - they charge you because they can. Must be enough suckers that are unaware of/don't read how much hotels charge, or don't care because cost is expensed.

The same goes for hotel wi-fi, many hotels charge more per 24h than monthly cost of mobile internet, cost waived for elite members.

The exception to this nonsense charging still seems to be TV. Although the actual cost for the hotel is considerably higher per night, the use of the 55'' flat-screen TV does not result in any extra charge
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Old Jun 7, 15, 11:51 pm
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I don't remember the last time I used a phone in my hotel room, either. In the days before cell phones, though, I remember a flat fee, usually, without the per minute charge. If you needed to call long distance, cheap phone cards were a good work-around, both here and abroad.

Fortunately, the conference call service we use has a web interface--between that over wi-fi, cell service, or Skype, I've been able to get something to work.
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Old Jun 8, 15, 1:32 am
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Originally Posted by plinko83 View Post
I spent two nights this past weekend at the Westin in Waltham, Mass, and while dialing to the bell desk to have my car brought around for check-out, I noticed on the phone that the Westin charged something like $2.95 for a local car plus a $0.10 per minute surcharge. There were far more significant prices for long distance calls.

I don't know that I've ever made a call from a hotel phone in my life (to a number outside of the hotel); especially so now that we all have cell phones.

It got me to thinking - does anyone ever make local calls from the phone in a hotel where there are these ridiculous charges for both local and long distance calls? Even if you're there on OPM, in a situation where it doesn't matter to you or the person(s) paying for your room, why would anyone ever pay such a high price for a simple call whether it be for business or to order a pizza?

And if so, why?

Also, why do hotels charge so much for local calls? Is this pure profit? If I make a local call from a Westin in Waltham, Mass (or anywhere) is there any cost to the hotel? The phone system is already there...in 2015 how in the world can a hotel charge me so much for such a simple task?
If you phone to a number within the hotel, there should be no charge, assuming that you dial the in-house extension. If you first dialed the exterior line access code (usually 9 in the USA and often 0 overseas) and then a local number, then of course it would be charged as a local call.

I remember staying in a hotel (in a USA city) that helpfully had a convenient "weather" button on the phone. I assumed that this would lead to an in-house recording, but instead it connected to an external recorded weather line service operated by a local TV station. To me, it's wrong to charge for calls on the special direct buttons on the in-room phone, including calls to the hotel chain's reservations number.
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Old Jun 8, 15, 2:28 am
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Your cellphone (pick one): poor reception, needs charging, forgot to bring it--so you need to use some other phone.
I've been to hotels where toll free/local calls generally run $1.50/30 minutes + $0.10/min excess. For a few hotels I've stayed in toll free from "house phones" are FREE.
Long distance is when you get ZAPPED: $16/minute...
Payphone are now "dinosaurs", but can still be handy!
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Old Jun 16, 15, 3:08 pm
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I have found that phone cards that have no per-call connect surcharge (fka operator assistance charge) from a home phone and no expiration date have been the best value.

All phone cards have a per call surcharge of so many minutes when used from a pay phone or a Charge-a-Call (tm) phone.

Some states have in-state long distance calls costing more than out of state long distance calls.

Sometimes a pay phone in the lobby costs less overall compared with a hotel room phone. You have to call their respective operators and ask questions.

In many cities including Boston figuring out what is a local toll call and what is an unmeasured call and what is a tier one (or tier 2) local measured call requires referring to some cross reference tables in a phone book.

A few hotels have hall or lobby phones that make free local calls. Together with a phone card you can make not-too-expensive long distance calls here.

Last edited by AllanJ; Jun 16, 15 at 3:15 pm
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Old Jun 16, 15, 3:57 pm
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In most jurisdictions, it is a legal requirement for there to be a working telephone in every guest room. And maintaining this infrastructure costs money.

Years ago, hotels were making a decent profit because you had very little other choice but to use the in-room phone. Now with mobile phones, VoIP etc most people don't use the phones but the hotels still have to provide them. So charging, even what people perceive as obscene amounts of money, is simply a method of cost recovery at this point.
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Old Jun 16, 15, 9:10 pm
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Originally Posted by D582 View Post
In most jurisdictions, it is a legal requirement for there to be a working telephone in every guest room.
I don't believe you. I'd love to see links to that legislation.
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Old Jun 16, 15, 9:14 pm
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Originally Posted by milepig View Post
I can't tell you the last time I've used a hotel phone for either an incoming or outgoing call.
Was thinking the same thing. But the working phone line requirement seems like it might ha e made sense at one time, and there are probably people and situations where it's still needed.
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Old Jun 16, 15, 11:58 pm
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With all the options available today (cell phone, Skype on your laptop, tablet or phone), etc. if you have to pick up the hotel phone and make a toll call you deserve to pay through the nose.
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Old Jun 17, 15, 1:14 am
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Re: OP. It's an old gouge rather than a new gouge. It had its heyday in the early 90s with not only charges for local calls, but "alternative operator services" charging sometimes ridiculous rates on the long-distance. Many companies would advise their business travelers to use a payphone in the lobby plus a calling card if available, and consumer reporters were saying that as well.

Not surprising that the practice is still in place even though other technology has moved on.

Motel 6, to its credit, did free local calls and 800-number (calling cards)-only long distance back in the 90s included in the room rate. The cheap chain didn't do the nickel-and-diming while the pricier ones did.
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