FW-57 -- Funny Phone Charges: Making Sense of Your Phone Bill

J@pan Inc Magazine Presents:

* * * * * * F R U G A L W A T C H * * * * * * * *
A weekly roundup of how to be frugal in the world's most
expensive country to live (unless you read this!), written
and compiled by Wendy J. Imura.

Regular edition, May 24, 2005 Issue No. 57

- What's New (Funny Phone Charges: Making Sense of Your Phone Bill)
- Event Notice: (Top Three Little-Known Useful NTT Services)
- Frugal Tips (Need an English Telephone Book? Look Here!)
- Credits

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============= ICA Event ===================

FRIDAY, MAY 27, 2005 - 7:00pm start
The ICA & Digital Eve will hold a casual networking party
at the ultra-cool Cozmo Cafe in Shibuya. JPY 4,000 includes
2.5 hours of open bar and various finger foods.

RSVP required - Complete details at http://www.icajapan.jp/

=== Entrepreneur Association of Tokyo =======
2 Year Anniversary Panel Discussion

"Raising Capital For Your Business"

The panelists will include Hitoshi Suga, Vice Chairman and
Board Member - Tully's Coffee Japan/FoodX Globe Co. LTD. and
Mike Alfant, President of Building 2. Our moderator will be
Michael Korver, Daiwa Securities Group Chaired Visiting
Associate Professor International Business Strategy for the
MBA program at Hitotsubashi University.

Date/Time: Tuesday, June 7th 7:00 pm
Location: City Club of Tokyo - Maple Room
(Canadian Embassy Complex)
Language: English
Website: http://www.ea-tokyo.com
Email: info@ea-tokyo.com

+++ WHAT'S NEW (Funny Phone Charges:
Making Sense of Your Phone Bill)

Dear Frugal Readers,

Last week's article about little-known post-office tips has
proven to be such a hit that I thought I'd work the same
bit of magic with another mysterious Japanese institution:
the NTT phone bill. As NTT continually adds extra services
in an effort to salvage its basic monthly fee revenue, here
is the lowdown on what these services are, how much they
cost, and whether or not you really need them.

*Touch-Tone Line (Pushu Kaisen, 409.5 yen/month,
2,100 yen installation)

According to NTT East's homepage, "Touch-Tone Line
makes dialing easier and shortens the time it takes your call
to be connected." The page further warns that a non-touch
tone line might make it difficult to use telephone banking
or prepaid phone cards. I can say from personal experience
that a touch-tone line, while convenient, is not absolutely
necessary. We have a pulse line, and we can still use discount
prepaid phone cards and other telephone services simply by
pressing the "star" (komejirushi) key once during a phone
call before entering the numbers. As a result, we save
around 6,000 yen/year in charges.

*Call-Waiting (Cyachi Phone,
300 yen/ No installation charge)

This is another cash cow for NTT. It allows you to
receive another call while on the phone with someone
else. In an age of email, cell phones, and other means
of communications, I find myself using this service less
and less, especially now that installing a second line has
become easier with the emergence of third-party local
telephone carriers. This is one of those services, along
with call forwarding, that rarely pays off in terms of
cost per use. So why not skip call waiting and save
yourself 4,000 yen/year?

*Caller ID/Prank Call Blocker
(Nanbaa Disuprei/Meiwaku Denwa Okotowari)

Sadly, this is an increasingly necessary service. Many
foreigners living in Japan, particularly long term, are
faced with prank calls. If you have a compatible phone,
caller-ID (which displays the caller's name or phone
number) and nuisance-phone-call-blocking services
can provide peace of mind and a weapon against stalkers,
solicitors, and just plain unwanted calls.

The Caller ID service is 420 yen/month for numbers only
(residential), and an additional 105 yen/month for names
(restrictions apply), and costs 2,100 yen for installation.
Make sure that your phone is 'nanbaa disuprei taiyo'
(compatible with the service), as many older phones are
not. The Prank Call Blocker Service is 630 yen/month
for 6 numbers, and 735 yen/month for up to 35 numbers
(installation both 2,100 yen). By programming the telephone
after receiving a prank call, all future calls from that number
will be refused. (You simply hang up the phone after a
nuisance call, pick up the receiver again, dial "1442," and
listen for an announcement. See
http://www.ntt-east.co.jp/product_e/04/15.html for details.)
Some calls from some carriers cannot be blocked.

NTT offers package and 'triple-set' discounts on a
combination of some of the above services (call waiting,
call forwarding, and touch-tone lines) that offer a savings
of between 52.5-304.5 yen/month. This said, you are still
paying between 787.5-1,627 yen/month, which is between
9,450 -19,524 yen per year - enough to make me think
twice about signing up for services I would easily forget
I had, and that I might not use that much. Perhaps it's time
for a little "audit" of the NTT phone bill?

Frugally yours,
Wendy J. Imura

PS: For more information in clear, easy-to understand
English, check out NTT East's admittedly excellent service
information Website at:

===== AMT Group's Exclusive Seminar ========

"Leadership Awareness Seminar" (in Japanese) at AMT Group's
Development Den in Yotsuya. 10:00 - 15:00, June 16 & 17
In a small group (maximum 6 participants):
* Learn and apply new leadership & coaching tools
* Access 100+ ways to motivate yourself and others
* Practice presenting before a group of peers and professional
Total investment: JPY97,000.
E-mail seminars@amt-group.com for details and to register.
And...for a FREE subscription to Andrew's Ax Leadership
Development newsletter, e-mail Ax@amt-group.com

+++ BARGAIN ROUNDUP: (Top Three Little-Known Useful NTT Services)

*Last-Caller Announcement (Nambaa Oshirase 136)
Also known as *69 in the United States, this service
simply gives the date, time, and phone number for the
last recorded call for that line. At 31.5 yen per use,
it's not cheap, but the service requires no monthly or
installation fee. Simply dial '136' followed by 1 to hear
the telephone number, date, and time of the last call,
and dial 3 after the announcement to dial the last
number (charges apply). Dial 9 after the announcement to
delete the call record.

*Directory Assistance (104)
You can search for the phone number and address of a
local resident or business by simply dialing 104 and
requesting an operator. These requests are not cheap
(63 yen per first inquiry per month, 94.5 yen for further
inquiry, and 157.5 yen per number between 11:00 PM and
8:00 AM), but might be of help for a foreigner who can
speak, but not read, Japanese and is in a bind.

*Time and Charges (100)
A great function for the truly frugal! By dialing 100
before a call, you will be automatically notified of
the duration and cost of your call after you hang up!


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+++ FRUGAL TIPS (Need an English Telephone Book?)
Look no further! NTT's I-Townpage English Telephone Book
is now available online at: http://english.itp.ne.jp/


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Written by: Wendy J. Imura (frugalwatch@japaninc.com)
Edited by: JI

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