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Cut Your Costs

Shop smart; lower your long-distance rates.

That's the message from the Telephone Research & Action Center (TRAC), a nonprofit group in Washington.

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"It's more important than ever that consumers get on the right calling plan," says Geoff Mordock, a TRAC researcher.

So pull out your phone bills for the last three months and hunt for patterns: How much do you spend? What percentage of calls during nights and weekends? Do you call one number or several?

TRAC's latest analysis shows flat-rate plans as the least expensive. For calls made mostly on nights and weekends, TRAC suggests an MCI flat-rate plan (800-444-3333), especially on Sundays, when MCI charges a nickel a minute.

But if at least half your calls come during the day, TRAC suggests Matrix (800-282-0242), Excel (800-875-9235), or Sprint (800-746-3767).

TRAC's "WebPricer" ( can make recommendations for your calling patterns. For its Tele-Tips report, send a $5 check and a 55-cent, self-addressed, stamped envelop to: TRAC; P.O. Box 27279; Washington, DC 20005.

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