TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: AT&T Billing

AT&T Billing

Choreboy (
Sat, 12 Mar 2005 13:52:41 -0500

Robert Bonomi wrote:

> The telco _is_ "responsible" (as in 'legally liable') for the actions
> of any 'agent' or contract marketing service that violates the law.

That reminds me of a string of bad experiences with AT&T. Five or six
years ago I had another carrier. Then an AT&T agent phoned and
offered a plan with no monthly charge and two hours free. I agreed.

When the letter came a couple of weeks later, it said there would be a
$5 monthly charge and there was no mention of free minutes. I phoned
AT&T, whose representative said they were not responsible for lies
their agents told.

The representative said he'd put me on a plan with no monthly charge
and send me a calling card for my two free hours.

I read the document that came with the card. There was no mention of
free minutes. Instead, it said I'd be billed 35 a minute. I would
have been billed $42 for the two "free" hours the AT&T representative
had promised.

I never used AT&T and no charge appeared on my telephone bill. My
bills were paid by automatic bank draft. I didn't check them promptly
because they were always the same. After five years or so, I saw on
my bank statement that my phone bill had jumped $8.50.

AT&T was now charging me. By now we were two days into AT&T's third
billing cycle, so it would cost me $25.50. Their representative said
they had sent me a card six months ago informing me of their increase,
so there was nothing I could do.

She offered to switch me to an account with no monthly charge but not
refund any money. I wanted to know why I had been switched *from* an
account with no monthly charge. She spoke as if I'd agreed to it by
receiving the post card.

I had saved that card. It said that in the future they would abide by
state law if they changed their rates. If that was an announcement
that they would change my account, it was deceptive. Anyway, it said
continuing to use or pay for an AT&T service would constitute
acceptance of the "agreement." I hadn't used or paid for any AT&T
service in years.

I said I wanted to cancel any account I had. AT&T required me to jump
through hoops with them and Bell South.

If AT&T had signed me up for a different kind of account without even
notifying me, that sounded like slamming. I complained to the FCC.
They said as long as AT&T had not stolen me from another carrier, they
could do as they pleased with me.

Eventually, AT&T refunded two months' charges. They did not explain why
they refused to refund the third month.

AT&T seems like a criminal enterprise to me.


[TELECOM Digest Editor's Note Yet, Traditional Bell and its apologists
keep talking complaining about what a bum deal telco is getting from the
alternative services such as the CLECs and VOIP, etc. This is just
IMO, but I think AT&T, SBC, etc have mostly brought on their own
troubles over the years. PAT]

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