A collect call in Canada and the United States, known as a reverse charge call in other parts of the English-speaking world, is a telephone call in which the calling party wants to place a call at the called party's expense.
Collect calls were originally only possible as an operator-assisted call, but with the introduction of computer-based telephone dialing equipment, it became possible to place a collect call without using an operator. Automated reverse charge dialing eliminated a service that could be provided, at a higher fee, only on operator-assisted connections: the person-to-person call, in which there is no charge unless a designated person is available.
Australian telecom companies provide reverse charge services with the number 12550. However, in the case of prepaid phones, this service is accessible only when a caller has sufficient credit to call 12550.
Several companies previously provided reverse call services in Australia, including 1800MUMDAD, 1800Reverse and 1800PhoneHome. In 2019, major telecommunication providers Optus and Telstra ceased billing services on behalf of third party content providers, causing these services to close.
Telstra ran a reverse charge service called HomeLink during the 1990s and 2000s. Homelink consisted of an 1800 number and PIN that could only be linked to the user's home phone service. Calls were billed at a slightly higher cost than a standard local call. HomeLink grew out of popularity with the rise in mobile phones.
In Brazil, reverse calls are available for every land or mobile line call. All local reverse calls must be started by dialing 9090 and the desired phone number. If the user is not in the same zone as the recipient the calls must be started by dialing 90 + carrier code + area code + the desired phone number.
There is not a simple way to make a reverse charge call for free in India. In early 2019 a private tech company launched services to enable a person to make an overseas reverse charge call. AT&T also provides a number to make collect calls from India to the United States. The number is 000–117.
Landline operator Telkom provides reverse charge services. A customer who needed the service had to call customer care and then request for reverse call. If the other person accepted, the call would then be connected and charged on his or her bill. In June 2019, the largest mobile service provider Safaricom started rolling out reverse call services to all its customers. To access the service, a customer has to dial # before dialing the desired number. The caller's details would appear on the recipient's screen as usual, but when the recipient answers the phone, a voice notice would informed them that the call is a reverse call. The recipient could then choose to accept the charges for the call by pressing 1 on the dial pad. Safaricom said that the cost of reverse calls is the same as the cost of normal calls.
Republic of Ireland edit
A collect call service operates under 800 Reverse (operated by Reverse Corp Ltd), in the Republic of Ireland. It offers reverse charge calls from any fixed line phone, pay phone and most mobile phones (even if the prepaid credit has run out), to most fixed land line and mobile phones in the Republic of Ireland. The company charges €2.99 to connect the call, including the first 60 seconds of the call, and €0.593 for every subsequent minute.
Eircom offered national and international reverse charge calling services until 24 February 2009. Prior to the cessation of services, national reverse charge service could be obtained by dialing the operator on 10 or, from payphones via 1 800 28 28 28 and international reverse charge services could be reached via the international operator on 114 or 1800 457 457 from payphones.
United Kingdom edit
In the UK, a number of services offer reverse charge calling. A caller can dial the operator on 155 and request a reverse charge call. Before these services were discontinued, 08000MUMDAD, 08000686323, 0800 Reverse also provided reverse charge calls. Reverse charge calls can be made for free on some mobile networks, although the person being contacted via this service may be charged a considerable amount for accepting such a call.
Freefone numbers indicated that a business agreed to automatically accept reverse charge calls to that number.
United States and Canada edit
Prior to the introduction of the toll-free 800 area code in 1967, a Zenith number (in the U.S. and Canada) or an enterprise number (in the U.S. only) would indicate to an operator that the business agreed to automatically accept collect calls to that number.
In popular culture edit
The movie Dr. Strangelove contains a scene in which a character attempts to place a collect call to the President of the United States after finding he does not have enough change on hand for the payphone.
The Fluffy Movie features material about collect calls, their antiquity, and the familial politics of placing a collect call.
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