Stop stealing my credit, Skype!
There are some poor, misguided fools out there who still criticise Skype for its call quality. They put their fingers to their lips and wobble them about as they’re talking, feigning the in-and-out nature of early voice over IP calls. Hilarious as such antics always are, it’s far from the truth.
If you make a call using Skype (or any other VoIP service for that matter) you’re far more likely to be impressed with the sound quality. Even using the built-in microphone of an average laptop and a set of crummy headphones, the quality is higher than a landline.
It even supports video under tough conditions. My sister spent two weeks in Kiribati, in a hotel with crumbling walls and one of the flakiest broadband connections known to man, but somehow managed a five-minute video call with my father. And all for free.
I still prefer the convenience of a traditional phone for national calls, but whenever I’m abroad I take with me a travel headset (probably too grandiose a term – really it’s a couple of pieces of wire with an earplug and microphone stuck on the end) and stump up ten euros so I can call landlines.
It’s an excellent system that works out far more cheaply than calling from a mobile or hotel phone: calling a UK or US landline costs 0.20 euros per minute, and even calling mobiles costs just 0.24 euros per minute.
But it comes with one big annoyance: if you don’t use your Skype Credit for six months then you lose it.
“We don’t want you to lose your credit,” Skype’s reminder email says, “so we send reminder emails 30 days, 7 days and 72 hours before your credit expires.” Now call me odd, but if Skype really didn’t want me to lose my credit wouldn’t it just keep it there?
Surely it’s hardly a burden on Skype’s systems to keep that database entry at EUR6.50 (my current balance) rather than zero?
To be fair, at least Skype is now sending reminders. I’ve lost 10 euros in the past due to this same problem, before (to the best of my knowledge) it had any reminders at all. But what about the people who use rarely checked email addresses when signing up for services like Skype? Or who go to Kirabati for a month and don’t take a netbook with them?
Come on Skype, and to all those companies that use a similar “use it or lose it” system. Eventually there will be laws that force you to keep our money in our accounts rather than wiping them clean, so change your ways first. That way I won’t have to perform ridiculous measures to keep my account active.
But if you’ll excuse me, I now have to make a one-second phone call so that my 6.50 euros Skype Credit doesn’t disappear forever.
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