(03/07/2002)
By Bob Weaver

The so-called elimination of toll charges between Calhoun and Gilmer County could be a wipe-out for some consumers, unless you are willing or able to pay for top-of-the-line calling plans.

Most customers will continue to pay by-the-minute fees, which apparently are less than the previous long distance charges.

Calhoun and Gilmer customers who are not on the PREMIUM PLAN will be billed by-the-minute charges, when their calls automatically go through.

A request for the per-minute charges was not returned by Frontier-Citizens, but they indicated it would be a "few cents" per minute. A news release said the charge would be about 25 cents for five minutes.

Calhoun phone customers who are on the COMMUNITY PLUS calling plan for $22 a month, which currently allows calling to some neighboring counties without additional charges, must now upgrade to the PREMIUM plan to call Gilmer at $29 a month for "toll free" calling. The upgrade will also also cost a $9.50 one time charge.

The annual investment is $84 a year (plus $9.50 hook-up fee) to call Gilmer County "toll free."

A Hur Herald reader was concerned that calls automatically go through to Gilmer (on a lesser calling plan), but customers will still be billed by-the-minute charges. "I don't believe a lot of people were made aware of this when the new calling system was discussed," they said. "They might be shocked when they get their bill."

It was unclear what rates would be for customers on the COMMUNITY CALLING or BASIC CALLING plans.

When the lowering of the phone barrier between Gilmer and Calhoun was discussed in the community and the media, and changes were sought though the PSC and the FCC, it was implied that "local calling" meant toll charges were to be eliminated.

The grass-roots movement led by a Gilmer County businessman was based on removing the toll charges.

An earlier press release from Frontier-Citizens regarding the changes in the system lacked detail and did not provide adequate consumer information, although a company spokesperson indicated such information was inserted in the phone bill.


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