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Unused minutes were rarely usable on a second call.
The provider provided (say) 10 minutes of service, but got to keep all of the money (say 20 minutes).
In the sex industry, similar platforms emerged facilitating the selling of used panties and other odoriferous garments, and for "cam" video sessions, in which the customer, for a fee, can direct the woman on the video screen, and for a higher fee, have a private connection (no one can see caller or provider except each other).
By the end of the 1980s, nearly all of the major local phone companies in the United States, plus the major long distance carriers, were actively involved in the adult chat line business.
Performers would come to a studio where they received a cubicle, coaching, and cash incentives to keep callers on the line longer.
This is the world portrayed in Spike Lee's movie about phone sex, Girl 6.
Software platforms were custom written to handle money collection and transfer, connecting caller and sex worker though neither could see anything but the platform's phone number, and metering the connection.The editor of High Society magazine, Gloria Leonard, is credited with being one of the first people to use "976 numbers", then "900 numbers" for promotional purposes and soon as a revenue stream in the adult industry.Leonard recorded her own voice informing callers of the contents of the next issue of High Society magazine before its publication.Details vary significantly from one platform to another, but the provider may be given a personal page on the platform to use however she (sometimes he) wishes.
All have some way for a provider to post a picture and some text.
(This attitude still survives among some providers.) When public (mostly female) pressure forced the phone companies to stop providing this service to sex workers, a transition was made to a manual method: pre-paid blocks of time, 10, 30, 60 minutes, whatever the customer would pay for.