Methodology and System for Telephony Accounting Enhancements
Original Publication Date: 2002-Jul-06
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2003-Jun-21
Note: Four distinct but related ideas are presented in this publication: Firstly is that of checking real time telephone services account information using a special phone, handset button, or personal communications device that interfaces with a data store of the account information. Secondly presented is a means to set account dollar and usage limits with through the Single-Button feature. Thirdly presented is a means for a customer to block (or allow usage) of the phone long distance service to avoid additional charges. Lastly presented is a means to continuously route information on demand or in batches to the cell phone, handset, etc. until the customer requests said information. This invention, the Single-Button Telephone Long Distance Charging/Blocking Feature allows the telephone services customer (i.e., the primary account holder of record) to quickly check the exact amount of long distance charges or usage minutes accrued in any current billing period, and through use of a PIN code (or smart card), modify dollar and usage limits and/or stop that account from receiving any additional charges for that billing period. The methodologies and system outlined here addresses the fact that there is not a simple system to allow for customers of telephone services to (a) quickly check telephone account long distance charges, (b) set account dollar and usage limits, (c) modify the blocking features real-time, or (d) maintain and continuously update the information locally on the handset, phone, etc. until needed. Any customer of telephone services should be able to quickly check and decide if s/he wishes to continue to allow long distance charges for any number which they have authority to control, as the primary account holder. Likewise, the customer can momentarily release this blocking feature by entering the PIN code, should they require to make a long distance call at any given moment. Currently there does not exist a method to discover long distance telecommunications charges real time while you are using the phone. In order to check long distance, toll calls, and local toll calls, you must contact the telecommunications customer support desk and inquire about your account. Some offer this service online via web based lookup systems for the telephone companies. In addition, cellular phones use a call feature that connects to an automated customer support desk that reads account information from an accounting database. This information includes minutes used in-plan and out-of-plan as well as billing information and account balances.