I sometimes wonder if TV producer Bellisarius got the name "Quantum Leap" from Quantum Link. They certainly have the same "tone" to them.
As for charges, I was able to avoid them for the most post. There were plenty of free forums to chat with other people, and since it was nationwide the quality of the conversations was better than the local BBSes. The other stuff like games/newspapers didn't interest me, but it made sense you would have to pay for that content, just like we pay for it today (via advertisements).
BTW you can try Quantum Link yourself, and "feel" what it was like in the late 1980s, by going to this link. It takes maybe 15 minutes to setup the required software, and then you can start chatting with other people:
After an instrument has been assembled, extra components will be found on the bench.