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Expensive, difficult, slightly dangerous, not particularly effective... I'm on a roll.
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I just want a small box with an LCD that will tell me how many minutes I have spent on long distance for the month, show how much it has cost, and shut me off until the following month when I've reached a preset limit. I'm afraid to actually create and sell this for fear of having an untimely accident.
||This isn't quite what you want, but some long distance providers offer instant Web-based account tracking, so you could at least check it periodically. You can also get prepaid long-distance accounts to prevent yourself from overspending. I'm not sure if these features are available on a "primary" long-distance carrier, or only on "calling card" systems like BigZoo...
||I think that your collective suggestions are spot-on. A calling card seems to be the simplest solution, and probably the one we will adapt. I attempted to purchase a version of the above, but it turned out to be a surplus three pound beige box called the "telecoster" that required the user to push a start and stop button each time they initiated a LD call. I know that many cellular phones contain this. Perhaps a cellular that acts as a cordless locally would also work. Many thanks.