When I switched my long distance service to MCI a couple of months back, they told me that calls to both land lines and cell phones in Japan were the same rate of 14¢/minute. I asked this question very explicitly because I know that most companies charge a surcharge for calls to foreign cell phones. I asked the question about four times in various forms and each time they were very clear on their answer.
In any case I got my long distance bill this month and sure enough, as I was promised, all the calls to Japan (all of them calls to a mobile) were 14¢/minute. However, I was confused that after accruing international long distance fees of $120, I somehow had a bill that totalled $350! Now clearly there was no way that my local toll + domestic long distance + taxes/fees was enough to make up that much of a difference. Looking more closely at my bill, I noticed the vast majority of that difference was in an "international mobile surcharge". Speaking with customer service, it was explained to me that MCI charges you the standard country rate on the itemized part of the bill then (essentially) hides an additional per minute charge (19¢/minute in this case) in the international mobile surcharge – this makes my calls to Japanese cell phones 33¢/minute, not the 14¢/minute I was promised.
I’m not sure which I dislike more, getting charged up the ass without knowing it, or being totally and blatantly lied to.
Further, the ease at which they reversed the charges makes me believe that this is a common problem they deal with and they basically count on people not noticing these additional hidden charges.
I switched my service back to AT&T. They don’t have the best rates in every single category, but far and away, across the board they have the best deals. I have signed up for the "AT&T Anywhere International Plan" which supposedly will give me a phenomenal 12¢/minutes to both cell phones and land lines in Japan for calls that I make from my calling card ($19.95 minimum usage). These guys were very up front about the surcharges that they charged so hopefully this deal actually pans out – it certainly can’t be any worse than what I just switched from tho…