Why are collect calls and credit card calls from payphones so expensive?
People who accept collect calls or who pay for calls using a credit card from public telephones often experience sticker shock when the bill arrives. Local calls lasting just a few minutes can cost hundreds of dollars, as if one was making a direct call from the United States to Australia when in fact they were calling within the same city or town.
There are two schools of thought about this.
One suggests that collect call companies and payphone owners design their phones to fool unsuspecting callers into paying outrageous rates for local or long distance calls.
The other school of thought is that long distance and collect calls from a public pay telephone are a premium service, thus offered at a premium price. If companies that provide this service charged standard market rate for calls then their business would be unsustainable, and would cease to exist. If you find yourself in such straits that a public telephone is your last and only option for communication then you should not expect that option to be cheap or even free.
By analogy, on a sweltering hot day in the park one might spend $4 for a bottle of Evian when water would be free elsewhere.
Public phones get so little usage any more that their continued existence cannot be assumed without government or corporate subsidies which recognize their status as a public utility.
Until such subsidies are in place you can expect to pay extraordinary amounts of money for brief calls made from payphones and paid for via collect, third party, or credit card.