Thursday, November 17, 2011

Long Distance Telephone Calls

When I was a kid, the bread man came by our house a couple of times a week. He’d walk to the front door with his basket of goodies, cherry, apple and strawberry turnovers, jelly donuts, other assorted pastries, and of course, bread. It was 1959 and Mom paid twenty-five cents for a loaf of bread. She thought the price outrageous, because she remembered a loaf of bread costing a nickel during the Great Depression, which was when she was a kid. Today a loaf of bread is $1.98. Mom passed away a few years back, but I think by the time she was an elderly woman she had come to accept inevitable price increases.

However, not all things increase in price as the years go by. Take for example, long-distance telephone calling. This morning via Skype I made a call from Oaxaca, Mexico to Victoria, British Columbia. First I’ll discuss the technology. If the call had been computer to computer, then it would have been a free call. Since it was a conference call, if the people at the other end had Skype, a projector, and a screen available, I could have been projected into the meeting. That would have been cool!

However, the call was my Skype to their speakerphone. The meeting lasted an hour and fifteen minutes and cost $1.659.

I’m much older than my mother was when the bread man cometh. If I wanted to, I could fret over the increases in a loaf of bread, the average house price or the outrageous cost of education. But, like my mother before me, I’ve come to accept inflation as inevitable. Nonetheless, I can be amazed at how inexpensive, long distance rates have become.

Since I didn’t remember exact rates, I did some digging. Here’s a link to a 1973 commercial that might interest you:

In 1915, a coast-to-coast telephone call made in the United States had a minimum charge of $20.70 (2011 value - $449.21) No information was given as to how long the call would last before extra charges would apply. The commercial advertised a fantastic deal; a coast-to-coast call only costs seventy cents (2011 value - $4.07). However, there were caveats, calls could only be made on Saturdays or Sundays during specific time periods, must be made during specific times, and you could only talk for three minutes before there were extra charges.

My conference call occurred during peak business hours. Mom, being from the depression era, wouldn’t have taken to new technology they way we seniors from the baby boom generation have. Just the same, she would have been happy with the downward trending rates.

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