[update] ATTENTION: AmericanTelegram.com is an extremely shady company. Not only were they awful to work with (not returning calls, charging fees that were not published, charging per character to include the delivery address in the telegram message body without disclosing this charge up front, etc.), but I just received my credit card bill and found they charged the transaction as CASH, so I was charged additional “cash transaction” charges by my credit card company. I can’t believe American Telegram can stay in business. They are shady. Their customer service is abysmal. DO NOT USE AMERICANTELEGRAM.COM.
[update] I finally received some response from the company, by way of a “teen texting” style barrage of e-mails with absolutely no tact or sense of how to address customers in which they attempted to defend their actions. For instance:
“If you could, please attach the screenshot to those you let know about your issues. [sic] We have not changed our website in several years, meaning this information was presented to you when you checked out. I am sorry you did not read it, but it was there, sir.”
Hilarious. p.s. The information to which this person is referring states clearly that the words in the destination address are included, not extra. I assume this company’s “customer service” consists of a couple of people with absolutely no training except what they learned by arguing and pulling hair in grade school.
My dad is retiring, and we thought it would be clever to send him an old fashioned telegram on his last day at work.
Western Union used to be THE entity for telegram communication in the U.S., but they sent their last transmission on Friday, January 27, 2006. Here’s a little history on Western Union’s telegram heyday.
So I began researching companies that still offered the service. American Telegram seemed to be the most legitimate company still sending telegrams. Following is my experience placing an order for a telegram:
First of all, I would highly recommend NOT using American Telegram.
American Telegram is pretty much a suck-fest. I had a question about the telegram I wanted to send. Their website site has a bunch of “call our operators!” banners everywhere, but no real answers to any of your practical questions (Do I pay for punctuation? Do you use “stop” instead of a period, like a telegram should? etc.). So I called, but got a message stating all operators were busy, and that I should leave my name and number and they would get back to me. I did that, and after an hour of waiting with no response called again, as I needed to be sure my transmission was entered that day, for next day delivery. I left my name and number again, but still received no response after another hour of waiting.
I probably should have taken this as a sign and abandoned American Telegram. Instead, I decided to go ahead with the web form for sending a telegram. The page clearly shows the next day service is $22.95 plus $.79 a word, and even if I was paying for the word “stop” (used at the end of a sentence), it should still have only been an extra $3.16 (four “stops”). I typed in my 25 words (plus four “stops”), filled out the sender and recipient information, and entered my credit card number. When I clicked “Process Telegram” I was taken to a sort of receipt page that stated my charge was for $22.95, plus 45 WORDS, plus tax (no mention of tax on the preceding page). The bottom of the receipt showed:
Thank You! Your order will be processed very soon! Need to make a change to this order? We're happy to serve you. You may contact email@example.com, or you may Call us at 1-800-835-3967 during normal business hours (PST timezone).
I immediately called the number on the receipt, received the same message I had previously heard, left my name and number AGAIN, and have since done that several more times… still with absolutely no response from American Telegram.
So… no confirmation page before taking your money. No word counter on the form where you type your message. No information on how punctuation and word count actually works. No returned phone calls. Mostly just a giant, suck-fest.
I paid $62.74 so you can learn from my mistake: DON’T USE AMERICAN TELEGRAM.
By the way, according to their phone message American Telegram evidently also runs Candygram, but their website makes NO mention of this service. They DO, however, list a singing telegram service, but then inform you that it will be delivered by phone –so who cares?! Anybody can call someone and sing to them.
Other telegram companies:
iTelegram (The International Telegram Service)
To be clear, Telegram Stop is more of a novelty service that is in no way legally binding or otherwise associated with most of the reasons one would send a telegram. For $5.95 they will print and mail your message. You also get a digital copy e-mailed to you. There is no expedited delivery, and most messages will be delivered in 4 to 8 days. You can’t deliver to any sort of live event, and you must give a street or P.O. Box for delivery. Thus, the only real difference between Telegram Stop and sending a letter, is that you can choose their “styles” to print the message on. In other words, Telegram Stop is pretty much a scam, charging you $5.95 to send a $.44 letter.