At Home: Long-distance cards may ring up extra charges
?Tis the season to call friends and family who live far away, but Canada’s Competition Bureau is warning people to read the fine print on those long-distance calling cards.
Many of them deliver what they promise?an inexpensive, convenient way to call long distance?but a CBC inquiry found that others hide steep rates behind deceptive advertising.
During the past few years, the Competition Bureau has fielded over 500 complaints about prepaid long-distance cards, but consumers may find they’re left with little recourse when it comes to disreputable card providers.
One example is Newton Kimball, a salesman in Burnaby, B.C. After purchasing a long-distance card that ?promised 200 long-distance talking minutes for $10,? Kimball tried using it to call family in Iran. He quickly discovered that his $10 had bought him a mere 32 minutes of overseas phone time. When he called the provider to complain, he was told to read the fine print on the card, which explained that rates ?were subject to change without notice.?
Other practices that consumers may find lurking in the details are hidden charges, cards with per-second charges, and ?even some with published rates that have already expired.? Sometimes, those misleading methods catch up with card providers: in 2004, Goldline was fined $750,000 by the Competition Bureau for deceptive advertising.
The best bet, though, is for consumers to look beyond the attention-grabbing numbers on the front of the card and read the fine print, or buy small-denomination cards first to see if the company lives up to its claims.
In Foreign News: Australia replacing registered nurses to cut costs
In a bid to cut health care costs, New South Wales? (NSW) State Government will be replacing registered nurses with ?less-qualified nurses and unqualified assistants,? according to the Sydney Morning Herald. The plan is in response to orders that hospital managers must save $32 million within four years by reducing nursing staff in ?small and rural hospitals.? University-trained registered nurses will be replaced by trainee and enroled nurses.
The plan contradicts the findings of a recent study commissioned by NSW Health, which showed that ?increasing the proportion of less-qualified staff in hospitals caused a range of preventable complications and deaths.? Data in the three-year study were gathered from 27 NSW hospitals, and revealed that higher levels of registered nurses resulted in lower rates of complications such as pneumonia, bed sores, and intestinal bleeding.
Jillian Skinner, the Opposition health spokeswoman, expressed concern that the changes would put lives at risk.