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Telephone services, international

Japan With Kids - Forums: Consumer Reports: Telephone services, international
By Anonymous on Friday, July 16, 1999 - 2:28 pm:

I keep hearing the words "call back service" since I got to Japan and I've been wondering what it is? Thanks for any help!

By Cornelia on Saturday, July 17, 1999 - 10:04 am:

International Phone Call Callback System

1.You call the computer in (the USA) and let it ring once or twice.
2.Then you hang up.
3.Then the computer calls your pre–programmed number back.
4.You pick up the phone, and dial the number that you wish to call.

Your pre–programmed number can be changed to almost any number in the world. So you can 'take it with you'. Or loan it to a friend! It is even possible to receive the call–back in a hotel room (calls which must be routed through the hotel switchboard).

The rates are very low because you are taking advantage of the free communications market prices available in the USA.

Recently, a number of companies offer "internet" calls. You call a local number from you regular telephone, punch in a code, and then at the sound dial your international destination. This is very reasonably priced, but the digitalized phone conversation is sometimes broken (by volume of internet traffic being high) sounding somewhat like conversing on a 2-way radio. Faxins is also possible now (it wasn't at first).

I know all this because I used to be a representative for Telematrix.

Call-back account: Sign up is free and your first account will have no monthly minimum (usually set at 2000 yen/about $18 US). You receive itemized phone call statements every four weeks if your total calls are over 2000 yen for that period, so you can separate out the calls made for business/personal use. You must have a credit card. These prices are in US$ so the advertising you see in yen always has an exchange rate posted somewhere.

Telematrix also has internet phone service. Sign-up is also free. And your first account will also have no monthly minimum requirement. IF you want an itemized statement it costs 1000 yen per month. Internet phone prices are fixed in yen.

The prices are comparable to the many other companies, in some cases a bit less, in some cases a yen or so more. The market to the USA is VERY COMPETITIVE. The rates to other countries are a bit higher. Africa tends to get the worst deals. But then it and South America are not as connected (with trans-ocean cables and such).

Some people get 'call–through' system with other vendors. The difference is that you do not have to hang up and wait for a call–back. BUT you have to dial more numbers, pay extra set–up charges if you are outside your country or area of service, and generally the per minute rates are higher than those of Telematrix (in many cases double or more) AND the monthly minimum is often $50 or more. Also they have limited international roam feature. In other words, you can 'take it with you' but only to some countries (usually about 8 or ten countries). Telematrix can go anywhere in the world that has international access telephone lines.

To avoid the inconvenience of dialing a bunch of numbers, most phones allow the programming of quick–dial numbers. But when you 'take it with you' you will need to dial the number yourself probably, at least once. So make sure you have it jotted down in your wallet or somewhere.

The call–back system cannot be used at most pay phones throughout the world. If you find that you make a lot of long–distance or overseas calls from pay phones, then you may want to register with a 'call–through' company, and use both companies simultaneously. The 'call–through' system has higher prices than Telematrix BUT it generally offers lower rates than a more traditional 'calling–card' such as AT&T or MCI or SPRINT or a credit card phone call.

My personal reason for being happy with Telematrix (yes, I use them) is that they have a bunch of cheerful, helpful people at their office in Shibuya-ku who pretty much speak English. And they were started by a "little guy". In other words I am helping a small business instead of supporting one of the multi-billion nationals. Also, if I need to know the charge of one internet phone call, I can usually just call them and ask (without paying 1000 yen for a statement), but I try not to abuse this courtesy.

By Natalie on Wednesday, July 21, 1999 - 8:14 pm:

I've used Telematrix for the past four years and I think they are so far the best in Japan in price and service. My friends have used other call-back companies and have not always been happy with the service and all have eventually switched to Telematrix. No, I'm not a rep. for them, just a happy customer. The one downside is that you can't pay in yen for the internet callback service that is charged in yen unless you have a Japanese credit card. I heard from Telematrix that they hope to offer a yen cash account service in the future. Check out their website for more info

By Emi on Monday, November 8, 1999 - 5:34 pm:

I've been using Telematrix now for about 3 months and I haven't had any trouble.

By Nancy on Friday, June 28, 2002 - 1:16 am:

We've experimented with several different call back services and finally found one that offers good service and reasonable rates. It is a Canadian company with a callback number in the US. One feature we really like is that you can provide 3 numbers so in addition to your home number you can also have calls returned to your cellphone in case of emergency. You can also view your detailed bill on-line. I am not a rep, (although if you refer a new customer you get a credit on your bill - just a nice way of saying thanks). The company is Telcan. Check out their website for more info!

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