Bell Plans to Increase Pay Phone Use to $1-2 Per Call Due to New Loonie

When was the last time you used a pay phone? With the proliferation of the cellphones, the classic pay phone is slowly being phased out. But for those still around, they can be invaluable when your precious iPhone battery runs out (too bad you won’t be able to remember any contact numbers!).

Bell Canada and its subsidiary Bell Aliant have asked the CRTC to approve doubling of its pay phone rates. Cash calls would increase from 50 cents to $1, and debit and credit card calls would change from $1 to $2.

Bell notes the reason for the change is to due to the Royal Canadian Mint and the upcoming release of new loonies, which will not be recognized by their existing pay phones. Not only that, more and more Canadians have adopted cellphones, making pay phones a rare commodity.

Some consumer groups such as the Public Interest Advocacy Centre, and Canada Without Poverty say the change would have a negative impact on existing pay phones and those with lower incomes.

“PIAC/CWP therefore contend that a 100-per-cent price increase in payphone rates and in particular in coin payphone rates will disproportionately affect lower income Canadians who are least able to afford sudden large increases in their expenses,” the groups argue in an intervention filed with the CRTC late Friday.

Telcos do not have to reveal pay phone financial information such as the numbers in use and the revenues made or lost. Telus told the CRTC it has no plans to increase its pay phone rates, currently at 35 cents per call in BC and Alberta.

What do you think? When was the last time you used a pay phone? Should we ditch them in favour of cellphones, or should they stick around?

[via Globe and Mail]