Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Calling Afghanistan

Afghanistan is one of the most expletive and difficult calling destinations. Although all calling cards advertise rates for calling Afghanistan, only very few provide reliable connection and acceptable quality of lines. The part of the reason is lack of reliable routes to Afghanistan as well as lack of advanced local telephone infrastructure.
We have analyzed sales data for many calling cards and did not find any conventional calling cards with good return rate to Afghanistan. We noticed some popularity of Lycatel calling cards (Kites, Perl, Roca), but problem is that these calling cards only keep good rates and actual minutes for the first few months after the release. Another popular card for Afghanistan is Inferno (Service by Primus Canada).
The best return rate and feedback we have for Afghanistan is for Ertebat Calling Card. Ertebat uses direct Afghan Wireless connected Fiber Optics/Satellite Connection. According to most feedback we have Ertebat Phone Card provides significantly better connection and very competitive minutes. Ertebat is provides best minutes for calls to Afghan Wireless and Etisalat networks (26 minutes). For calls to other Afghanistan mobile networks Ertebat delivers fever, but still competitive minutes.

Gold Line Phone Cards

Calling Cards by group of Gold Line have been on Canadian long distance market since 1993. Currently Gold Line provides over one billion long distance minutes per month employing over 250 individuals. Gold Line retains complete control of all aspects of its infrastructure, it owns the all back-end infrastructure required to supply customers with a complete solution in all long distance services. According to many sources Gold Line is the largest and one of the most reliable calling card service providers in Canada.
GoldLine phone cards have earned the reputation of Canada’s best-values and reliable calling cards. Gold Line's most popular calling cards are Gold, 2020 and CiCi Calling Card.

Connection and Line Quality

Group of Gold Line provide long distance service in partnership with many world’s leading communication providers. Gold Line is one of the very few providers who offer excellent-to reasonable connection and line quality to almost all international destination. In fact, according to many reviews, CiCi and some other GoldLine’s cards offer the best deal to most calling destinations.

Marketing Strategies and Advertised Minutes

GoldLine’s most popular calling card – CiCi has accurate minute-by-minute billing and no fees of any kind.
Gold Calling Card has better published rates and minutes, however it deducts 15¢ after 3d minute of every call. This makes rates more attractive, but in real life most customers could have a better deal using CiCi calling card for short calls. Gold may generally be better for longer calls.
20/20 calling card uses the most common calling card advertisement strategy: Posted rates and minutes do not include per call service fees. In short, this card is only good if entire balance pf the card is used for one or two calls. Realistically customers get not more than 50-60% of promised minutes. Although 20/20 could be good for long calls to “expensive” destination, we would only recommend 2020 for experienced calling card customers, who use calling cards a lot.

General customers' feedback

Mostly positive. Most negative feedback relates to lost minutes while using 20/20 calling card. CiCi is one of the best rating cards in Canada.


We believe that CiCi calling card offers one of the best deals for multiple or short calls to most international destinations. We also recommend CiCi for all casual or inexperienced calling card users. Depending on the rate to specific destination, CiCi could be good to all types of calls. We would only recommend 20/20 for experiences customers, who plans to use up entire balance of the card in one or few calls.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Top, Ultra, Family, Big Time, Crazy Minutes, Parlez, Holiday, Fonebuster and many other phone cards from the same provider.

Top, Top Plus, Family, Ultra, Matrex, Crazy Minutes, Parlez, Fonebuster, Fonebuster Flat, First, First Flat, Asia, Arabia, Latino, Euro Direct (series), Double Time and many, many more calling cards. All these calling cards are from the same phone card service provider. This provider does not advertise its name, but all phone cards are easily identifiable by similar access numbers and the same customer service number - 1-888-282-0752. This company is the second largest and one of the most powerful and reliable phone card service providers in Canada.

Connection and Line Quality

All phone cards from this service provider offer good-to-acceptable line quality. Considering the rates and actual minutes (about half of the advertised / posted minutes), these phone cards provide exceptional value for many countries. The value is especially good if entire balance of the card is used for 1 or 2 calls (mostly to courtiers with high per minute rates). However, we have some reports, claiming that these phone cards do not connect to some countries at certain times (not necessarily heavy calling time). In all such cases these problems are temporarily and are resolved within a few hours (customer service confirms the country specific routing problem and ask to try the call again later). Our recommendation is, if your call is not connected in 5 or 6 attempts, do not try again, leave the card and try to use it later (next day or so). Another recommendation is if call is not connected within 40 seconds, please press ## and dial your destination number again, or service fee may be applied.

Marketing Strategies and Advertised Minutes

Most phone cards from this service provider do not provide all advertised minutes. Their disclaimer states "Minutes posted and announced are based upon face value and for comparative purposes only. The applicable fees, tax and individual calling patterns will affect actual minutes received". According to many reviews most phone cards from this company provide about half of the advertised minutes if used for 1 or 2 calls. Although these cards give about 60%-50% of minutes for the full balance, actual minutes drops dramatically when balance is close zero. The one example we experienced is when a $5 card with reaming balance $0.62 announced 18 minutes, but in fact delivered only 3 minutes. This issue is widely reported, but it applies only in cases when remaining balance is close to 0. Card with full balance delivers 60% to 50% of advertised minutes. We have NO reports indicating that older cards from this provider deliver less minutes than newer cards (problem with many other calling cards).

General customers' feedback

Mostly positive. Most of the reported problems relate to the issues described above.


If used properly, most phone cards from this service provider offer exceptional value for many countries. The value is especially good if card balance is used for one of for a few calls. We do not recommend leaving small portion of the balance unused (you will not get much minutes). When using these phone cards you need to understand that connection is not 100% guarantied. In some cases you may need to re-try calls several times. In very few cases card may not connect (temporarily, we recommend not to try too many times, leave the card and try to use it later). If call is not connected within 40 seconds, please press ## and dial your destination number again, or service fee may be applied.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Phone Cards with Hidden Charges – Does this make sense?

Most of phone cards in Canada and the United States deduct undisclosed hidden fees from the balance and do not provide all promised minutes. These fees allow calling card providers to keep their advertised rates extra low. In fact this advertisement practice is misleading, but completely legal. Disclaimers, indicated on such phone cards, always state something like "The advertised and the announced minutes may not reflect the actual minutes due to applicable taxes and fees". So, the question is: "Does these all make sense? Isn’t it just a deceptive marketing and we have to avoid such phone cards? "

There is no simple answer on these questions.

First of all, if you are new to calling cards or do not use calling cards a lot we recommend choosing reputable phone card which claims "No Fess”. Examples of such cards are CiCi, First Choice, Premier Plus and some more.

In order to take an advantage of phone cards with hidden charges you need to use them properly. Generally, you have to finish complete balance of the card (with hidden fees) in a few days and use the card only for a few long calls. You can avoid many types of hidden fees by using all of your minutes in one call.

In fact, using phone cards with hidden charges is some sort of gambling. If you use your phone card properly you get a good deal and you win. If you did not finish you card in a few days or used it for multiple short calls you’ve got a relay bad deal, you lost, and phone card provider won!!!

Remember... to avoid deceptive marketing, you need to deal only with phone cards from reputable stores and / or reputable providers. You may get a proper classification, recommendations and complete fee disclosure for many Canadian calling cards online at Ontario Phone Cards.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Lycatel Phone Card review

The most known Lycatel phone cards in Canada are Pearl, Super Sonic, and Kites.

Lycatel is very well known global calling provider with head office in London, UK. Lycatel offers one of the highest quality cheap long distance services with the best price / quality to many "difficult" and "expensive" courtiers. Lycatel proprietary calling card platform and their own fiber optic lines / routes gives Lycatel considerable advantage comparable with other providers. In Canada Lycatel offers great quality / value service to many countries (India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, UAE, Saudi Arabia, Philippines, Saudi Arabia, Nigeria, Eastern Europe and many, many more).

Misleading marketing strategies

In Canada Lycatel releases new calling card every few months. For the first month or two new phone card delivers very good minutes and attract many customers. According to many customers, once new calling card becomes popular, Lycatel gradually increase unspecified hidden charges, significantly decreasing actual time available for consumers. Despite this, Lycatel phone card offers good value, especially for new phone cards. According to customers’ feedback, actual minutes provided by Lycatel cards, varies from 90% to 30% of posted time, depending on age of the card, number of calls made and sometimes other unspecified factors.

Customer service

Customer Service exists, able to help in case of connection problems, restores balance on the card in case of not connected calls. According to some customers, when complaining about short minutes, customer service promise to look after and call back, but no actual resolutions / help have been reported / known. Probably we may consider short minutes as a "feature" of the card. If deal with short minutes we recommend considering newer Lycate card or phone card form another provider.

General customers’ feedback

General customers’ feedback is very controversial. Many / most customers praise the quality, some like quality, but concerned about short minutes. Few customers report bad connection / line quality.


If you are calling to countries with connection / line quality problems Lycatel phone cards are worth trying (try one $2.50 or $5 card to start from).
Despite short minutes you may get a good value. According to many customers Lycatel calling cards provide considerable better quality of service than most other non-expensive calling cards.

Friday, June 19, 2009

There is no "best calling card service"

There is no "best calling card service" in general because it really depends on where you going to use it, when you use it and many other factors. Different phone cards work differently for different countries and may even work differently depending on time of day / week / holiday etc. For example, the same phone card can provide an excellent quality for calls within North America, to Europe, China, but terrible connection to Iran and not to connect to Somalia at certain time of day.

The reason is that phone card providers have to purchase "routes" to different courtiers from different providers and quality may vary depending on the route, country, route load at the time and many other factors.

In general, some providers and phone cards are doing better than others, but not entirely. For example, Canada's most well known phone card – CiCi. CiCi service provider – Group of GoldLine is Canadian largest provider of phone cards and other long distance services. GoldLine owns many key telecommunications elements and able to provide very competitive rates with quality to many destinations. However some smaller companies could get a better route with better price for some specific destinations, still providing poor service for other countries.

The simple solution is to rely on a reputable service providers like CiCi phone card, Bell phone cards, etc. However, if you make frequent overseas calls you may get a good quality with better price from other phone card providers. For this you have to try different phone cards or take an advise from people who calls the same country. Remember, different phone cards work differently for different countries.