Help me find a good long distance calling card
April 13, 2011 9:41 AM   Subscribe

I live in Victoria BC, Canada. I need to find a long distance calling card for use from a land line, or some other solution, that will give me a good quality long distance call to Europe.

I have my M.Sc. defense next week. One of my examiners is in Europe, so we'll need to teleconference. The teleconferencing setup in the exam room requires me to dial out from a landline, but will only let me dial local numbers.

It was suggested that I use a long distance calling card to make the call, which is fine by me*. But every time I've bought a card from a corner store the calls have been fuzzy and laggy, and I'd really rather not have that for my defense.

Do you know anywhere I can buy a high quality long distance calling card? Are the cards offered by Bell or Telus significantly better quality than the corner store variety? Is there any other solution that involves me dialing a local number from a land line?

*No, my department will not pay. And the department that manages the the building my exam is in won't give me an outgoing long distance line. I've tried. The examiner may be able to call in, but I need to cover my bases and make sure I can call out.
posted by auto-correct to Grab Bag (12 answers total)
When someone in my department needed a similar thing, they just set up a laptop with a webcam in the front row with Skype open, and the person on the other side just watched over Skype. It may be slightly less reliable, but assuming good internet connections on both sides, should be fine. Perhaps if you also send them a copy of your slides (if relevant) so they can see them closer up.
posted by brainmouse at 9:44 AM on April 13, 2011

There are different routing tiers for long distance call routing. Probably the corner store calling card company is paying a bit less to route your call on a cheaper tier. A calling card from Bell may indeed have better routing, it is certainly worth a try.

Could you set up some sort of call forwarding service from the phone company so when you dial your local landline the call is forwarded automatically to Europe and charged to the landline? I'm unfamiliar but land line service in Canada but I believe such a thing would be possible in the US. Or call a local number (perhaps your cell phone), mute the call and create a three way conference call with the Europe number.
posted by ChrisHartley at 9:52 AM on April 13, 2011

Response by poster: I've considered Skyping, but there needs to be back and forth between the presenter (me), the local examiners, and the away examiner. The mic and speakers on a laptop won't cut it for that kind of discussion. And the mic and speakers available in that room for teleconferencing won't plug in to a laptop (I've asked AV). There may be other options, but right now I'm just trying figure out my long distance choices.
posted by auto-correct at 9:52 AM on April 13, 2011

My husband has always used OneSuite to make calls to India. You might want to see if they offer good rates for Europe.
posted by JenMarie at 10:08 AM on April 13, 2011

Oh, sorry, there is a local and a toll-free number, too (for OneSuite).
posted by JenMarie at 10:09 AM on April 13, 2011

You used to be able to get a card from tells that let you call and have it billed to your home phone. Maybe call and ask?
posted by SpaceWarp13 at 11:43 AM on April 13, 2011

Try Google Voice. It won't be free (and most cases more expensive than calling cards).
Up to now I have had good call quality on GV.
posted by WizKid at 12:24 PM on April 13, 2011

Response by poster: Can you use Google Voice to call *from* a land line? I thought it was for calling from your computer.

Also, price isn't a big factor. At this point I would give my first born to make this defense happen. Only concern is quality of the call.
posted by auto-correct at 1:26 PM on April 13, 2011

Phonecard on sale is exactly what you're looking for, an online seller/consolidator that allows for easy comparison of rates to destinations. I've been using them (in lieu of a long-distance carrier) for many years, via my $5/month land line (for which I qualify since I'm poor). Only problem is recently these "cards" (actually, there's no cards, just a phone number and a PIN) started expiring after three, four or six months. Another aspects to be wary of are the access phone numbers; access via an 800 number will be twice as much as with local numbers (but not all cards have local numbers, and your region may not have one even if they do).
posted by Rash at 2:07 PM on April 13, 2011

You can use Google Voice from a landline by calling your own Google Voice number and then pressing 2. You would need a local Google Voice number for this to work in your situation and I don't think they have numbers in Canada.
posted by ChrisHartley at 3:27 PM on April 13, 2011

Response by poster: Thanks everyone! Looks like the miracle solution I was hoping for doesn't exist. A Bell calling card it is, then.
posted by auto-correct at 8:11 PM on April 13, 2011

There are a lot of calling cards sold locally. I believe there's a $5.00 kind of calling cards sold in Chinatown (Vancouver) or local Asian grocery stores, and they are pretty good.
posted by easilyconfused at 8:53 PM on April 13, 2011

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