Subject: Re: Using the telephone in France/Pin City
Hello Ziners:

Just returned from Paris where we used Pin City to call back to the States and it worked just fine. Since there was only one access number, sometimes it took several tries to connect but the connection process was easy and quick. The connect tries were greater during Valentines day. You can connect from your hotel room or from public pay phones. Since the connect number is a 0800 number there was no need for a phone card at payphones to make the call.

I originally signed up with a $10.00 limit with an automatic refill at $5.00. The only problem was that it refilled to $20.00 rather than to the original $10.00. The calls cost less than 3 cents a minute and I thought I would never use up the first $5.00.

I haven't revisited the Pin City web site since my return, but recall that it can be used in over 50 countries.

The only problems I encountered in using the French phone system is that the hotel connect rates from one's hotel room are very confusing and considering the translation problems, never have I found a hotel that can accurately give me the potential costs. Since I was traveling for business, I needed several hours of telephone use each day for my computer.

In one of my hotel stops (Marriott at LaDefense-trade show), there was no phone info in the room and when pressed the assistant manager admitted that there were was no printed information available in any room. It cost 2.00 Euros connect charge for every toll free call(plus time) but no connect charge for outbound local calls. At most of my smaller and less expensive hotel stops, the actual cost including connect was marginal - usually .30 Euros per minute.

Be aware that in older hotels, the telephone in the room may be set up for pulse dialing rather than tone, and for most calls to the States to voice mail or answering machines you need tone. It is impossible communicate with a front desk person(especially the night clerk) who doesn't speak English that you need a tone dial telephone. I have had to lower my self to making pulse dial and tone dial tone noises to a night clerk who looks at me as if I were the mad American. Sometimes there is a switch at the back or bottom of the phone to switch between the two modes. Fortunately now days most of the public telephones in France are tone dialing.

Finally, for critical or rush calls back home or in country, I carry my trusty T-Mobile cell phone which charges 99 cents a minute in and out.

Thanks to Michelle for saving us many dollars,