Yesterday I described a service that charges just a dime a minute for all calls within the 50 United States, anytime (not just after 7PM, a la Candace Bergen in the Sprint ads). If you’re someone who makes a lot of weekday daytime long-distance calls, check it out. (And if you’re an AT&T customer not getting a 20% or 30% discount and 5 frequent-flier miles for every dollar of calls, check it out, too.)

But all this phone talk made me think of something else.

You know how there’s this etiquette where, when you go to visit somebody, you have to make this big show of using your credit card to make long distance calls rather than stick your host with the 45-cent tab? (After all, it’s usually a weekend or an evening — what’s it gonna cost to call Chicago for a few minutes?) I’m not saying you can violate this behavioral code, but it’s becoming increasingly silly.

Sure, if you’re calling Kuala Lumpur or Bucharest.

Montevideo — sure. But New Jersey?

I mean, there you are drinking $4 of the guy’s Absolut and tonic, eating $14 of shrimp and that interesting chicken fricassee his spouse makes, but you’d rather spend $2 to make a credit card call than just dial direct and leave some loose change by the phone?

I do the same thing, of course. But whenever I see a guest of mine fumbling for his calling card, unless I know he does a lot of business in Japan, I insist he dispense with this foolishness immediately and just dial direct.

One thing you could do is dial via the 10811 DimeLine. If your host happens already to be a customer, already paying the flat $5 service charge, your call will cost him only a dime a minute, even coast-to-coast Tuesday at noon. And if, as is much more likely, he’s not a DimeLine customer, it will still cost him only a dime a minute. He won’t be charged the $5 access fee (unless some other guest tried the same thing last month). The first calendar month’s calls do not activate that $5 fee.

I’m not saying you should do this. I wouldn’t. But if you are going to beat your host out of the phone charges, you may as well save him a little money. (Remember, this works only on residential lines, and only really saves money in any meaningful way on weekday daytime calls.)


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