Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Talk is Cheap

Sometimes emails and IM's just aren't enough and you want (or need) to communicate the old fashioned way, via telephone. With all the VOIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol) options, my preferred provider is SKYPE. They have great features like IM, webcam, and voicemail (additional cost), and after 2 years they are so reliable and effective that Ebay decided to do business with them. Oprah uses Skype's webcam on her show to talk to guests from around the world.

I like them because even after so many people now know about them, they still have such easy set-up, accessible customer support, and fantastic prices (it used to be free, but now they charge about 2 cents). No matter what time or day you call, an international call is 2.1 cents per minute; yes, you read that correctly, 2.1 cents per minute. You can buy an unlimited monthly package for only $2.95 for calls to the US & Canada or $9.95 for calls anywhere in the world. Or pay as you go and buy 10 Euros worth (about 16 USD) which is good for 180 days; the credit only expires if you don't make at least one call in that time. The connections are steady, clear, and all you need is a good headset with a microphone to use it; if you plan to be on the the phone away from your computer, I would recommend buying a cordless VOIP phone (the jacks are different because it must plug into your computer-or buy an adapter for a regular phone). This is a great way to keep in touch with people who are overseas, like the (other) Elaine who writes the blog Paris for a Year to get her most up to date recommendations for things to do, see, and eat in Paris.

If you are away from a computer and need to make a call, then get a Global Phone calling card and you can use a land line or cell phone to call overseas or long distance 24/7 any day for an average of about 4.4 cents per minute. There are different prices depending on whether you are calling from or to a cell phone; for instance a call to a land line in France is 1 cent but to a cell phone it's .282 cents a minute. For calls to the continental US it's only .038 per minute and the most expensive call I found was to Zaire for .605 per minute. You have your calling card linked to a credit card, so you literally pay as you use it or not at all. It is a nice card to have when you are traveling (it works worldwide, so you can use it to call home). Since the company has been around since 1995, is privately held, provides phone services to over 500,000 customers in 130 countries, and is debt-free, they will probably still be in business when you need to make a call.

Even with talk this cheap, there are still some people you really do NOT want to talk to, and for those people give them your Rejection Hotline telephone number. Better than giving out a wrong number and disturbing someone you don't know. This is an easy and funny way to tell people you never want to talk to them again. They have local numbers for many cities, the message is unisex, and it will leave the caller laughing even through their rejection. They even have specific numbers for a specific topic, like a one night stand that you want to keep a one night stand.

To talk or not to talk, that is the question; now you have some options no matter what you answer.

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