10-10-321 is a United States long-distance phone service best known for its prolific television and direct mail advertising in the late 1990s. 10-10-321 was the first mass-marketed service of its type, and it and the similar 10-10-220 and 10-10-987 services were all owned by Telecom USA, which was owned by MCI; MCI is now part of Verizon. All services of its kind are known as interexchange carriers, which essentially allow consumers to bypass, or "dial-around" their primary long-distance carrier and use a different one.
The services debuted in May 1996, originally as 10-321 (and its numerous variants) before the telephone industry expanded carrier access codes to seven digits instead of the original five; the number gained an additional "10", becoming 10-10-321 on July 1, 1998. Although "dial-around" interexchange carriers existed prior to the debut of 10-10-321, these were among the first to feature a mass multimedia advertising campaign.
The services were advertised heavily, using celebrities such as Hulk Hogan, Alf, John Lithgow, Terry Bradshaw, Reginald VelJohnson, John Stamos, Mike Piazza, Tony Danza, Doug Flutie, James Garner, Toby Keith, Christopher Lloyd, Dennis Miller and George Carlin. This ubiquitous presence on television led to a spill-over into pop culture for a brief time, much like MCI's fellow collect-call service 1-800-COLLECT during this era. Each service advertised rates that were significantly lower than most telephone operators were charging at the time; 10-10-321, for instance, was a straight pay-per-minute service charging 10 cents per minute, while 10-10-220 was mostly a pay-per-call service, with any call up to 20 minutes charged a flat 99 cents, and both services charged the same rate regardless of time of day, a rarity for long-distance service at the time.
By the early 2000s, the steep discounts were no longer offered, rates increased as much as 80 percent in fall 2002, with 10-10-321 going from 10 cents a minute to 18 cents on October 1, 2002. A year earlier, a 9.9 percent "Universal Service Fund" charge had been added. The television advertising has since become much less common. In addition, the widely increased use of cell phones in the early 2000s, and subsequent decline in the use of landline phones, has rendered the service somewhat antiquated. Much of this is because many mobile phone service plans do not charge additionally for long-distance calls; the advent of voice over IP, in particular, has rendered the cost difference between local and long distance much smaller.
10-10-321, 10-10-220, and other 10-10 services are still available, although at significantly higher prices than originally advertised during its heyday. As of September 2019[update], 10-10-321 charges a flat 30¢ per minute for calls within the U.S. and U.S. territories, while 10-10-220 calls within the U.S. (except calls from Alaska, where the service is not available) cost $1.50 for the first 10 minutes, and 25¢ for each additional minute, plus a 24.4% Federal Universal Service Fee.
- "At&t's Lucky Dog Will Begin Dial-around Service". sun-sentinel.com/. South Florida Sun Sentinel through Bloomberg News. October 7, 1998. Retrieved February 8, 2020.
MCI says its 10-10-321 plan, which began in May 1996, offers long-distance calls about a penny less per minute than the basic AT&T; rate until the call reaches 20 minutes.
- Dujardin, Peter (July 1, 1998). "Why did 10-321 become 10-10-321?". dailypress.com/. The Daily Press. Archived from the original on May 18, 2020. Retrieved February 8, 2020.
- "The adMan - A Knee-Jerk to the Groin of American Advertising - MCI: '10-10-HOTSEX!'". shadowculture.com. 1998-11-29. Retrieved 2019-09-19.
- "Dial-Around Rates Climb Sharply". consumeraffairs.com. 2002-10-21. Archived from the original on 2009-04-28. Retrieved 2017-06-03.
- "10-10-321 Big Savings Without Switching". 10-10-321.com. 2014. Retrieved 2019-09-19.
- "10-10-220 Domestic Calls". 1010220.com. 2014. Retrieved 2019-09-19.
- "10-10-220 FAQs". 1010220.com. 2014. Retrieved 2019-09-19.