The problem with collect calls from mobile phones

Posted on : 2007-05-07 13:55 KST Modified on : 2019-10-19 20:29 KST

Lee, a first year high school student, subscribed to a 25,000-won (US$ 27) monthly fixed rate mobile phone. When he calls his house or his parents, he uses the collect call to save the calling time. Towards the end of the month, when his 25,000 won runs out, he uses collect calls even when calling his friends. They have a mutual understanding, and have agreed that calling each other collect is okay.

A 46-year-old office worker subscribed to a mobile phone as a present for his son who just entered high school. To minimize the cost, he chose a 25,000-won fixed rate. However, his son started making collect calls. To make matters worse, telephone rates have rapidly increased. The son's monthly bill, which has been expected to be just 25,000 won, has continued to rise. It was almost 120,000 won last month.

The ability to make collect calls has made set-rate mobile phones meaningless. It is also causing a problem in terms of fees. The rate for a collect call on a mobile phone is 24 won every 10 seconds, compared to 18-20 won every 10 seconds regular calls on a mobile phone. The father selected the fixed rate to save money, but he will have to pay much more bill due to the collect calls his son has been making

Collect calls have become a means for young people to avoid monthly time and fee limits. Moreover, they agree to receive as many collect calls of the other party as he or she has accepted.

Sometimes, they pay the harsh price. Due to enormous telephone bills, the parents and the children argue and if parents refuse to pay, their child is overwhelmed with calls from service providers demanding to be paid. In many cases service ends up being suspended, but even then phones can be used to make collect calls. In consequence, unless the children exercise self-control themselves, their bill continues to rise.

Such situations continue to occur since younger phone users have a hard time using their phones in moderation. However, the business tricks used by providers are also a problem. The network provider SK Telecom defends itself by saying it cannot prevent collect calls because people need to be able to place them in emergencies. KTF, another network provider, said that since collect calls are provided by fixed-line carriers, "it is hard for us to intervene."

As of May 4, approximately 4 million teenagers have phones with fixed rates. Annual collect call sales reach almost 200 billion won (US$215 million) each year.