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       An advisory bulletin for consumers from the District
              Attorney for the 18th Judicial District,
                         Carol Chambers

The wife of one of our staff members stayed in a hotel in Las Vegas
recently. While there she called home several times using her
telephone credit card. During one call, a recorded message
informed her that Opticom was handling this call. She thought no
more of it until she received her next phone bill. The one-minute
call through Opticom cost her $32.30! Further investigation
revealed that Opticom not only charges a considerably higher rate
than most competitors, but they charge for a minimum of four
minutes regardless of how brief your call may be. When she
contacted her long distance provider about this bill (which appeared
on her regular phone bill) she was told there was nothing they could
do as they only passed on any bills that were presented to them.

Is this practice legal? Yes! A company can basically charge
whatever it wants for its services. The consumer always has the
right to decline. In this case, however, what concerns us is that the
consumer is not told up front that by placing the call through
Opticom he/she will be paying a considerably higher rate than is
normal, and that the minimum call length billed will be four (4)

So caller beware! When you place a long distance call through any
vendor other than your contracted phone service, DO NOT assume
that what you pay to your regular carrier is also what you will pay
to all carriers. If you do not know the terms and conditions for
using that service, it may be in your best interest to hang up and
get connected with the company you know.                         (Issued