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Widow paid $14,000 renting ancient phone

Rotary rip-off

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A widow in Ohio, USA, rented a rotary phone for more than 40 years, clocking up a bill of $14,000 in the process.

Now 82, Ester Strogen began leasing two rotary phones from AT&T in the 1960s, paying $29.95 a quarter.

After the anti-trust decision forced a break up of the monopolist in 1984, with local lines supplied by a number of regional operating companies, AT&T gave customers the choice: they could carry on renting, opt out altogether, or buy the phones outright.

She continued, however, until two months ago when family members discovered the charge. While the new arrangement saves her money, Mrs Strogen says she wants her old rotary one back.

The model is obviously good business: US cable companies typically oblige their customers to rent the set-top box today. ®

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