The People's Guide To Mexico

Mexico: A to Z
Keeping in Touch
Using Public Phones

Ladatel Public Phones:

Paying with a Credit Card is Expensive!

Published: April 2002

I just returned home from Acapulco. The signs on the LadaTel telephone booths urge you to use your credit card, to call home. Well I did.

According to the sign on the tel booth, this is the cheapest and the easiest way to call. When I arrived home, I received my Visa statement. Jan 23, I made 3 calls altogether about 15 - 18 minutes.... The charge is $122.64 (Canadian dollar).

To me this is not the cheapest way to call but the most expensive.

I feel I can not trust them at all. Where can I turn for help. Who can help me with this problem?

Thank you Steve B.

Lorena Replies:

I'm afraid there is nothing that you can do now. Calling Canada from Mexico as you describe is definitely the most expensive way. Using the Ladatel phone with a credit card is what our friend David "El Codo" Eidell calls Mexico's "One armed bandit".

The "Cheap' way they advertise was with a "LadaTel phone card". These pre-paid cards are sold throughout Mexico in shops and convenience stores. Insert the card into the phone slot and place your call. Using a prepaid card, your calls would have cost a little over $1 dollar U.S. a minute (10 pesos) rather than the $5 or so Canadian dollars a minute that you were charged.

However, I'd like to publish your email on the website to help other travelers avoid making the same mistake.

I hope the rest of your trip was enjoyable enough to help make up for this.

PS., I'm CCing this reply to David "El Codo" Eidell to see if he has any suggestions, but .... I think helping others avoid this may be the only thing we can do now.

David "El Codo" Eidell Responds:

Another case of "assume" huh?

The problem would have been averted had you checked with the LadaTel operator about the rate before dialing.

It also would pay to do a little scouting around before leaving home. Many folks report success using an MCI pre-paid telephone card purchased in the USA, and I imagine Canadians have their own versions of the pre-paid card as well. The last time I checked (last year) the MCI pre-paid card was docked twenty-eight cents per minute for calls to the USA from Mexico City. The user of the card is responsible for calling the toll free service number on the back of the card before they depart to obtain the toll free access number in Mexico. Pre paid cards are available at warehouse club stores such as COSTCO, WalMart, and Sam's Club.

Lorena again:

Steve, I hope this helps for next time.

BTW this happened to us once when Carl called me (at home in Washington state) from a long distance "caseta" in Oaxaca. He used our AT&T Calling card. But instead being charged the AT&T rate, we were charged $8 a minute. Since Carl had been traveling for a few month, we had a lot to talk about. "Fortunately", the caseta was ready to close when Carl went in, so we had to cut the conversation short... or we'd still be working to pay that bill off.

Best, Lorena

Mexico: A to Z
Keeping in Touch
Using Public Phones

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