WARNING: Don’t use the pay phones in the Atlanta Airport
Remember when we didn’t all carry cell phones? I got a chance to remember it this past weekend when I flew to GA on business and left my phone in the car in Philadelphia. I’m not going to moan about that, I don’t use my phone enough for me to have considered it a problem for the most part. However, right when I arrived at the part of the Atlanta airport where my ride was supposed to meet me, he wasn’t there. Again, not a biggie, traffic stinks around any big city, but I was miles from home with something of a schedule to meet and no way to find out if I had a ride.
Then I saw the pay phones by the baggage claim. I didn’t have any change on me, because carrying change in an airport is a supreme hassle when you consider security checkpoints and all that mess. But I remembered a decade ago when I was using phone cards more regularly, and I remembered that they made it so you could do that with credit cards, so I went ahead to make a call with my card at the pay phone.
When I started dialing, it said “Press 4 for charges or press 0 to continue.” Now, I want you to think of a number. Take into consideration what you know about 900 numbers and stuff like that, and give me a number for a price for the call that would be exorbitant, but tolerable. Now think of a price that would be insane. Write them down, we’ll share more numbers later.
I didn’t press 4 because the line of reasoning in my head went like this…
- Someone, somewhere has to realize that the only people using pay phones these days are the poor, those in emergency, and the few remaining people who remain untethered, God bless them. You would have to be pretty friggin’ evil to want to hurt any of these groups.
- The last time I made a calling card call, the price was about $.10 per minute.
- The last I heard, the cash price for a pay phone call was $.35 for a local call.
- I only planed to be calling for 5 minutes max.
- Even with long distance to PA, THE MOST I could imagine this call costing was like $5, and that was if they REALLY railed me
How does that jive with your thinking?
So I made the call and it lasted about 3 minutes. After, with nothing to do but wait, I figured I would take advantage of my new re-aquaintance with the pay phone and knock out some other business. So I started another call, and this time for laughs I pressed 4.
“For this call you will be charged $26.xx for the first minute and $4.xx for each additional minute.” NOTE: The X’s are there because I passed out for a second after hearing each number.
So I hung up the phone like it was on fire, almost vomited, and said a little prayer. This morning, back to work in the regular place, I check my bank account, and sure enough, there is a charge for $35.19 for that call. Now, I needed to make that call, so I don’t feel completely moronic. But seriously, you have to agree with me that there is no way my rational mind could have assumed it would be anything like that. And while I realize that the Atlanta Airport does not run the phone system, they should be aware that they are party to one of the most amazing and unassuming scams I’ve ever seen in real life. I mean, it’s like I puckered up because the roadrunner said it had a big one for me and made kissy faces, but when I open my eyes, there’s a stick of dynamite jammed in my puss.
I’m so annoyed. I’m going to try and figure out what to do. In the meantime, consider beating up a kid in the bathroom for his cell if you’re in the ATL airport and need to make a call.* Otherwise they’ll try and jam a plane up your backside. And if you happen by the phones at baggage claim, please, pee all over them for me.*
More important, please share this with everyone you know so nobody else has to suffer.
* These sentences are sarcasm describing what I would like to do, not actual suggestions for you to act upon. Hopefully you’re smart enough to see that on your own, but I had to disclaim it because we live in a world of fools (as well as suckers, apparently).
- Travelers: Beware hidden charges of credit-card calls from airport pay phones (seattletimes.nwsource.com)