Verizon Helps Illinois Callers Hang Up On Confusing Long-Distance Bills
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BLOOMINGTON, Ill. -- Confusing long-distance bills are now history thanks to new technology from Verizon Long Distance, a subsidiary of Verizon
With SmartTouchsm, an innovative long-distance product, customers can buy long-distance time in advance with a credit card or a
Visa® or MasterCard® branded check/debit card and deposit the time into their SmartTouch home phone account. Since
customers set their own spending level, they know exactly what they are paying for each long-distance call and never have to see a monthly bill. And there are no
extra digits to dial like 10-10 dial-around services or prepaid calling cards.
SmartTouch gives consumers complete control over their long-distance spending and lets them pay when they are ready, not when the long-distance company
sends them a bill.
"SmartTouch is the first truly innovative approach to long distance in years," said Maura Breen, president, Verizon Long Distance.
"SmartTouch puts consumers in charge when it comes to managing their long-distance spending. Plus, we are giving consumers a great rate with no hidden
fees. It doesn't get any simpler."
SmartTouch customers pay a low flat rate of just 8 cents a minute for state-to-state, direct-dialed calls from home with no monthly plan fees. Long-distance
direct-dialed calls within Illinois are 11 cents a minute, anytime. These 8-cent and 11-cent rates include all government-required taxes and surcharges, including
state sales tax.
How SmartTouch Works
Keeping track of calling time and long-distance expenses is easy with SmartTouch, which uses patent-pending technology. A voice prompt at the beginning of
each long-distance call says exactly how much money is in the customer's SmartTouch account and the number of minutes available for the call. A prompt at the
end of the call tells the customer the remaining balance. Only the customer can hear the account status information on the call. Customers also can dial
"0-0" (zero, zero) from their home phone to get an account balance anytime, day or night.
For example, a customer purchases $10 of calling time in advance and places a direct-dialed, long-distance call from Illinois to New York at 8 cents a minute.
After dialing the phone number, the customer hears the SmartTouch voice prompt say there is $10 in the account and 125 minutes available for the call ($10
divided by 8 cents per minute equals 125 minutes).
Once the called party hangs up, the voice prompt reports how much money remains in the account for the next call. So in this case, if the call lasted 25 minutes,
the customer would have $8 left.
A voice prompt during the call alerts customers when their account balance is getting low. SmartTouch money remains in the account until the customer spends it.
SmartTouch gives customers round-the-clock access to their account balance and call activity via www.mysmarttouch.com or by dialing "0-0" from their home phone. Customers can add more
time to their account 24 hours a day via credit card by dialing "0-0" and following the voice prompts or by calling Verizon customer service at
1-888-599-0107. All purchases are posted to the customer's account immediately, so there is no waiting time before making calls.
In coming months, customers will be able to set up automatic payments to their SmartTouch account on the first of the month or every time the account reaches a
SmartTouch also has a feature that allows customers to place calls from a pay phone, by dialing an 800 number and entering their home phone number and a
secure PIN (personal identification number). These state-to-state, direct-dialed calls are 25 cents per minute. The amount of the calls is deducted from the
customer's SmartTouch account just like calls they place from home. But unlike many calling card plans offered by other major long-distance companies,
SmartTouch does not add a per-call service charge to its away-from-home feature -- even if the call is placed from a pay phone.
SmartTouch Has Broad Appeal
SmartTouch appeals to household managers, international callers, people on fixed incomes -- literally anyone looking to get a handle on monthly expenses. To
order the service, customers can visit Verizon's SmartTouch Web site at www.getsmarttouch.com or call
Household managers -- SmartTouch enables household managers to manage their long- distance budget for the entire month. Best of all, you pay when
you are ready to pay, not when the long-distance company tells you to pay.
Retired/fixed income households -- Living on a fixed income can mean cutting back on household expenses, including phone calls to loved ones.
SmartTouch means you are never caught off guard by surprises on your phone bill.
International callers --Frequent calls abroad can mean out-of-control long-distance phone bills, but not with SmartTouch. By purchasing long distance
in advance, you can take advantage of some of the best international rates advertised by any major carrier.
Customers managing credit -- SmartTouch enables families and individuals managing their credit to get long-distance service without paying a hefty
deposit. With SmartTouch, customers can get great rates by depositing money in their account.
Customers who are visually impaired -- With SmartTouch, callers hear their account balance before a call is placed and, during the call, a voice prompt
tells them when their balance is getting low.
Verizon is exploring new and creative ways to educate consumers about SmartTouch. The company has a marketing agreement with iVillage.com, the Internet's
leading women's network. As part of the relationship, SmartTouch information appears in targeted iVillage.com Web pages that focus on parenting, money
matters, working from home and managing debt.
International Rates Rival AT&T's 'One Rate'
SmartTouch offers great rates for Illinois customers who frequently make international calls. The per-minute rates are available anytime, day or night, are not
promotional or short term and have no monthly fees.
SmartTouch offers a low 8-cent a minute rate for direct-dialed calls to Puerto Rico, Canada and the United Kingdom. Other examples include: 14 cents to 30
cents to Mexico (depending on where you call); 14 cents to Hong Kong; 15 cents to Japan and South Korea; 16 cents to Taiwan; 23 cents to the Dominican
Republic; 23 cents to Brazil; 29 cents to Columbia and 30 cents to China. And like the domestic rates, SmartTouch international rates include
government-required fees and taxes, including state sales tax.
Since there are no extra digits to dial, SmartTouch customers who used to use 10-10 dial-around numbers or prepaid cards for international calls can now simply
pick up the phone and dial "011" and the country code plus the number to make calls at very competitive rates. In fact, SmartTouch rates are priced
below AT&T's "One Rate International Value Plan" for a majority of the most frequently called countries.
Latest Innovation from Verizon
SmartTouch is the brainchild of Verizon Communications and United States Advanced Network, Inc., an intelligent network and enhanced voice services
provider based in Atlanta, Ga.
The Good Housekeeping Institute, known for 100 years for its product evaluations, recently gave its prestigious Web site certification to the SmartTouch Web
site -- www.getsmarttouch.com .
Verizon Communications (NYSE:VZ) is one of the world's leading providers of communications services. Verizon companies are the largest providers of
wireline and wireless communications in the United States, with nearly 109 million access line equivalents and more than 27.5 million wireless customers. Verizon
is also the world's largest provider of print and online directory information. A Fortune 10 company with approximately 260,000 employees and more than $63
billion in annual revenues, Verizon's global presence extends to 40 countries in the Americas, Europe, Asia and the Pacific. For more information on Verizon,