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The eurocity is one of many calling cards that one can buy from many phone shops in Brussels and should be considered as a cheap, but not so convenient, way to call home. Destinations limited to West Europe, USA and Canada.
Another Belgian calling card is Mister Bing with more destinations.
You would consider eurocity if: you have a Belgian fixed telephone line; or you have access to a Belgian fixed line that is limited to local calls; you dislike paying Belgacom's pricy charges.
How to use. I buy my 5 Euro cards from phone-card vendors in Brussels, conveniently open most hours every day. Mine has Concorde gear-down over blue map of Europe with VECTONE Gnanam telecom Centers underneath. The PIN code is under an opaque strip and must be scratched off. I then dial the local access number from my Belgian landline (home or office) and wait for the voice prompt (in french) asking me to press 1 for French or 2 for English, after which the prompt invites me to enter my PIN code. After I enter my PIN, the prompt invites me to enter the destination number: 00 for abroad, the country code (eg. 44 for UK), the main number, and end the number with * (I never use the * and it connects anyway). At this time the service announces the tarif in number of minutes available.
Range of services. My opinion is limited to my experiences with eurocity Brussels access number from non-payphone fixed lines mainly.
Access numbers: Local Brussels - tested from fixed line and once from payphone; Local Antwerpen, Charleroi, Gent, Hasselt, Kortrijk, Liege and Namur - never used; Freephone number 0800 87 707, said to give fewer call minutes than local; Gratuit cabine: 0800 72 395 - never used; Gratuit Mobile "Call Back" 0114 19 000 - never used;
Services tested: Both French and English tested. Follow-on call (appel suivant) using ##; this saves a new connection charge. Registered the PIN (with #*1) at both an office ISDN phone and a home Analog phone.
Services not tried: customer service on (+32) 02 502 29 29 (or press #*9 on the local access number); redial using #1; abbreviated numbers (Numeros abreges) using #*2; Voice messaging using #*4; and Multiple calls using #*5;
Tarif rates from my experience. Seem to vary but 5 Euro card buys: 200-300 minutes to UK,France,Italy landlines (approx 1.2-1.7 pence pm) 20-30 minutes to UK mobile (approx 12-17 pence pm) 20-30 minutes to German mobile
Adding the Belgacom local call costs of 1.7 (off-peak) to 3.5 pence (peak) gives 2.9 to 5.2 pence per minute using eurocity, but don't forget to add the per-call connection charge of 3.5 pence.
Compare this with the Belgacom costs to UK, USA or Canada of 6.3 (off-peak) to 13.1 (peak) pence per minute plus a 7.7 pence per-call connection charge.
Tips and tricks: Helps to have rudimentary French. Calling from an office ISDN telephone I needed to press # just after dialing the local access number to change the phone system to Voice mode, before pressing 2 for English. One can register the PIN with the telephone one is calling from by pressing #*1, after one has entered the PIN code once; this saves entering the PIN again on subsequent calls on that telephone, but do not do this if others may use the phone.
Pros: tarif message is given in number of minutes available after dialing; the back of the card details access numbers, instructions and special codes; no charge for calls that do not connect - but you still pay the local call; line quality good.
Cons: Expires after 30 days from first use or by the use-by date. Although tarif information is heard by pressing #*3 the response was too unclear to understand! The vendor had no tarif list. www.vectone.com appears to be the provider/manufacturer, no tarif info. No guarantee the company doesn't go bankrupt - happened to another card I used. If you spend too long pressing numbers the service complains that you didn't enter a valid number! A problem if you're not a fast and accurate key-presser.
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