Wednesday, June 13, 2007


Phone Card Depot: Prepaid Phone Card Blog
Written by: Tavis McKenzie

Why can Prepaid Phone Cards be E-mailed?

All that is required to connect to the prepaid phone card company's call routing machine is an access number and a PIN. The physical card (as seen at variety stores) is not needed as it is not swiped or scanned.

Calling card e-mails that you receive from any online calling card merchant will contain just the access number and the PIN, no card needed.

Phone Card Depot: Prepaid Phone Card Blog
Written by: Tavis McKenzie

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Monday, February 05, 2007

Are Calling Cards Anonymous? ran a simple test to see if your anonymity is protected when using a prepaid phone card. The test: does the number you are calling from show up on the call display of the phone you are calling?

The way calling cards work is that your local access number connects you to a server that routes your call through the carrier's lines or through the Internet to a gateway in the call desination city. Phone Card Depot's hypothesis was that the call display on the receiving phone would display either the local access number that we dialed or a number associated with the destination gateway, not the real number that we made the call from. Our staff was surprised at the results.

Our GM, Tavis McKenzie dialed his Motorola i830 cellular phone from the Phone Card Depot office landline and took pictures of the call display.

Phone Card Depot's landline number is 905-737-6478, let's see what shows up in the call display of his Motorola i830 cellular phone.

Using CiCi Calling Card
Number Calling From: 905.737.6478
Number on Call Display: 905.737.6478 (correct)
Result: Not Anonymous

Using Telus Calling Card
Number Caling From: 905.737.6478
Number on Call Display: 780.402.0002 (incorrect)
Result: Anonymous

From these results it was concluded that the type of calling card used is what was important to anonymity. Today's calling cards are routed through two different systems: VOIP and traditional land lines. Upon further research we believe that cards running off of VOIP systems are usually not anonymous because they pass the number you are calling from through to the destination telephone's call display. Calling cards that are run off of the traditional call-routing schema are considered anonymous.

Phone Card Depot: Prepaid Phone Card Blog
Written by: Tavis McKenzie

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Monday, January 29, 2007

20/20 Plus Added to Inventory

Our previous post entitled "Is your vision 20/20" mentioned the vast differences between two calling cards: 20/20 and 20/20 Plus. That post can be summarized as follows:

Good: Bad: Ugly*:

*Ian Dowie, Manager of Charlton was given a 10/10 on the "ugly-o-meter" at rated 20/20 as follows:
"This card (20/20) is an absolute MESS. It reminds me of a certain cousin who always gets drunk at family reunions. In both cases, I want to scream “TAKE IT EASY”!"
Phone Card Depot agrees with Calling Card Reviews and have removed 20/20 from our inventory and replaced it with 20/20 Plus, yes "Plus". This card is a completely different product with great rates, no hidden fees and very good call quality.

20/20 Plus is not positioned as a good calling card from the United States (there is a large 8 cents/minute premium for doing so. From Canada there is no premium, no hidden fees and the card works very well.


Phone Card Depot: Prepaid Phone Card Blog
Written by: Tavis McKenzie

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Friday, January 26, 2007

Types of Calling Cards

Stored-value vs. Remote Memory System Phone Cards
By: Tavis McKenzie, GM. Phone Card Depot

There are two types of calling cards, Stored-value Phone Cards and Remote Memory System Phone Cards. One saves the balance of your service directly onto the card via magnetic strip or chip and the other stores the value of your service in a remote database.

  • Stored-value Calling Cards: These cards have a magnetic strip on them like a credit or debit card. The magnetic strip stores the balance left on the calling card right on the card itself. For more detailed information see: A History of Stored Value Calling Cards.
Sample Canadian Stored-Value Cards:

1. 2. 3.

1. $20 Bell QuickChange Card Original First Issue (Couple at Payphone)
2. $2 Bell QuickChange Card (Logo)
3. $20 Bell Canada (Coca-Cola and Santa)

*Note: this small rectangular chip on each card stores the remaining balance of the card

  • Remote Memory System Calling Cards: Unlike Stored-value calling cards, these cards do not have a magnetic strip on them. The user must connect to an external database in order to retrieve information about the calling card. Most calling cards that you purchase from variety stores or gas stations today are remote memory system based. The local access number or 1-800 number on the card connects you to this database via your landline or cell. See: A History of Remote Memory System Calling Cards. All calling cards instantly delivered online are Remote Memory System Calling Cards because there is no magnetic strip to swipe.

Sample Canadian Remote Memory System Calling Cards

1. 2. 3.

1. $20 BC Tel (Native Series) - 1995
2. $5 Bell Canada (Toronto Blue Jays) - 1994
3. 10 minutes Telus (Bears) - 2000

Phone Card Depot is an online retailer of pre-paid phone cards. All cards are instantly delivered via e-mail.


Sunday, December 24, 2006

Don't Listen to the Convenience Store Guy

What turned out as an inventory addition expedition for Phone Card Depot ended up as a "Don't Listen to the Convenience Store Guy" lesson.

The moral of this story: There are more resources available for calling card purchases on-line than in-store. More resources lead to more informed buying decisions and a better calling card purchase.

Today we sent one of our purchasing reps out to look for some of the most popular prepaid phone cards on the market being used to call China from Canada. Phone Card Depot selected two of Toronto's largest Asian malls to conduct our study: Pacific Mall and First Markham Place.

First Markham Place
Posing as a customer, our rep asked the variety stand operator at First Markham Place, "which is your best calling card to from Toronto to China", to which he responded "they are all the best". Confused, we then asked which of the calling card has no hidden fees? The stand owner told our rep that all of the cards had no hidden fees. Yet, they carried 20/20 calling card (see "is your vision 20/20" to see the large amount of hidden fees on this card).

Rep: "What about this one?"

Store Clerk: "See, it says connection fee"
Rep: "This card has many other hidden fees"
Store Clerk: " hidden fees"
Rep: "Okay, Great!"

Pacific Mall
Our Phone Card Depot rep then moved on to the Great Mall of China: Pacific Mall in Markham, Ontario. Of the calling cards offered by this store, our rep knew that CiCi offered the best rates and no-fee pricing structure to China of all calling cards at this booth. The store rep was very anti-CiCi trying to push us towards the 20/20 card again. The push to this card is because the profit margin on 20/20 is double that of the CiCi card.

In summary, don't listen to the convenience store guy. Do your research online, before you purchase a calling card. If you are reluctant to purchase online, perhaps our Safe Holiday Shopping Guide will help.


Phone Card Depot
"Your Path of Least Resistance to Long Distance"

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Monday, December 18, 2006

Tips for Safe Online Holiday Shopping

Tips for safe online holiday shopping from Phone Card Depot
  1. Anti-virus / Spyware
  2. Avoid internet cafes/kiosks
  3. Look for seals of approval
  4. Look for the https symbol
  5. Never provide sensitive information in an e-mail
  6. Avoid using wireless networks
  7. Beware of Pop-ups

1. Anti-virus / Spyware:
Get a good anti-virus or spyware program for your computer. Phone Card Depot recommends NOD (personal) or Sophos (business) Antivirus. NOD is great because it constantly scans your incoming e-mails and does not take up as much resources as a program like Norton Anti-virus. Phone Card Depot highly recommends to great "clean-up" programs: Ad-aware SE Personal and Spybot - Search and Destroy, you will be amazed at how many threats these programs find.

2. Internet Cafes / Kiosks:
Internet Cafe's and kiosks may be run on unsecure wireless networks (see #6) or more unscrupulous cafe's may have keystroke recorders installed on machines to record your actions online. Phone Card Depot recommends 3rd party reviewers when seeking out an internet cafe such as

3. Seals of Approval:
You must find a site security seal on any e-commerce site which guarantee's 128-bit encryption. Some of the best encryption providers include: GeoTrust, Verisgn, Thawte. How do you know that these seals are authentic? Click the seal, a certificate will load: check the name of the domain on the certificate, if it matches the domain that you are purchasing from, the domain currently uses 128-bit encryption.

128-bit Encryption:
This creates a safe tunnel through which your private information can go. Internet traffic is similar to sending all of your info in a postcard, 128-bit encryption puts a shield around this postcard so that it can only be opened by who it is intended to be sent to.

4. Look for "https://" in the address bar at checkout
The "s" in https, shows that the SSL encryption is being used properly and that the site is secure. The "s" only needs to be present at checkout.

Good: Bad:

5. Never Provide Sensitive Information in an Email
Most e-mail correspondence is not encrypted and can be intercepted by a 3rd party. Do not send credit card numbers, SIN numbers etc. via e-mail.

6. Avoid Using Wireless Networks
Some wireless networks are not encrypted with what is known as a WAP key. You will know if your home network is protected if the technician gave you a WAP key to use if you ever needed to make a new connection to your wireless network. Be especially wary of wireless networks at internet kiosks or cafes.

7. Beware of Pop-ups:
When you see pop-ups always avoid them, avoid temptation to click on unknown e-mails, avoid clicking on websites if they come by email. These websites or e-mails may include an executable file that can install malware on your computer. Firefox provides great pop-up protection, if you're using Internet Explorer, Phone Card Depot highly recommends that you switch to Firefox.

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Thursday, December 14, 2006

Is your vision 20/20?

Is your vision 20/20? ... Maybe not. On September 15, 2006, 20/20 calling card by Group of Goldline was removed from Phone Card Depot's prepaid phone card inventory after it was added only a month earlier (Phone Card Depot adds 20/20 calling card to inventory). This card was removed because of an abundance of hidden fees. reviews 20/20 as follows:
"This card is an absolute MESS. It reminds me of a certain cousin who always gets drunk at family reunions. In both cases, I want to scream “TAKE IT EASY”! All cards exist for a purpose, though, so if you can find extremely low rates to your fav. destinations and the fees work out for you, cautiously give this a try…"

So, why do people buy 20/20? I will get to this in the next paragraph, but please see the fees below. Even the most novice phone card user can tell that this card may have some surprises up it's sleeve. You will see that most charges kick in only after the 4th minute, so maybe this card is good for calls less than 4 minutes long like "come and pick me up". Not so fast, after the first minute, the card rounds up 3 minutes and pushes you over the 4th minute threshold.

20/20 Calling Card Fees
  1. Maintenance Fee: 30 cents / day
  2. Service Charge: 39 cents to $1.29 after the fourth minute of each call
  3. Admin Charge: 30% after fourth minute of each call

Why do People buy 20/20?
People buy 20/20 because they think the card is the same as a similarly named card "20/20 Plus" yes, "Plus". 20/20 Plus is a very good card with no hidden fees and great low rates.


Tavis McKenzie
Phone Card Depot

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