Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Why I Read My Supposed Junk Mail- I got Slammed by my Own Phone Company

It's not because I have some sick fascination with letters, it's because many times legitimate letters and bills can be disguised as "junk mail'. Like the letter I got yesterday from Sprint welcoming me as a 'new long distance customer".

New customer? I don't have long distance phone service from anyone. I had it turned off about 2 years ago when I discovered that I got better rates using a calling card for my inter and intra state long distance phone calls. The basic Sprint fees alone were $7.99, less any usage charges. For $8 a month, I get something like 300 minutes of talk time on my calling card. I really don't use my land line all that much. 300 minutes of talk time can last me a very long time,like a couple months.

I called Sprint ASAP and they told me that my local carrier, ATT, set up the long distance. I did get Sprint to cancel the account, telling them that I never authorized any one to set up an account and I sure as hell did not and would not be responsible for any charges. I then called ATT and sat on the phone for 30 minutes while the "customer service" agent insisted I set up the Long Distance service. I told him that I never did, I used a calling card, and my last Long Distance company was MCI. The customer service agent said if I dialed Long Distance on my phone, I'd be using Sprint, unless I had all Long Distance turned off. I sighed and said, Yes, exactly, I can not dial ANY long distance inter state or intra state, I HAD the Long Distance turned off, you, ATT have without my permission, signed me up for Sprint Long Distance. I want a block put on my line. You, ATT, have slammed me. If you are not able to put a block on my line, then lets get a manager who can. It's very simple, I don't want ANY long distance service unless I call in to authorize it.

I was not in a mood to deal with ATT. I've had to call them several times and each time it was a miserable experience. First, they wanted to sell me all sorts of calling plans and services I don't want, and then they want to know why I don't want these "fabulous" plans. I guess they have a hard time understanding the phrase-No, I'm not interested. Their revenge-to slam me!

The funny thing was the last time (like last February) I called ATT I was assured that the notation on my bill stating Sprint was my chosen carrier was a default statement and I was assured I did not have any Long Distance Carrier.

I'm not happy with the waste of 40 minutes of my time calling Sprint and ATT. I know I had a block on the line to begin with and pretty much, ATT over rode the block as a 'service' to me it's 'valued' customer.

The lesson here is even though that envelope may look like junk mail, you do have to take a few moments to open it and read it through. Had I just glanced at it and tossed it in the recycle pile, I would have had an account and related fees I never authorized or wanted.


Shevy said...

That`s incredibly irritating. Here in Canada about a dozen years ago there was a huge flap with all the cable companies and *negative option billing*.

Basically, they added a whole bunch of new specialty channels, gave them to everybody for a limited time for free and then started to charge everyone for them on a monthly basis (unless you had called up ahead of time to cancel them).

The only way out of it was to spend hours on hold or in long lineups to officially opt out of this service. You had to really work at it in order to get out of paying for these new channels.

People were so furious about it that a bill was eventually passed, banning negative option billing in Canada.

I had no idea this sort of thing was still going on elsewhere. Companies looked at it as a convenient cash grab due to the large number of people who don`t bother to call up to cancel trial subscriptions or ones they`re tired of. But they end up paying a bigger price in negative publicity, which ultimately can impact their bottom line.

And when companies add *services* on their own initiative the backlash is often deservedly severe. Good for you for pursuing it.

veronica said...

Ah, yes. Something similar happened to me a year or so ago. Chase sent me what looked like junk mail to inform me that unless I responded to them by a certain time to cancel my card, they would be adjusting my interest rate about 10 points higher. This, despite that I had no late payments.

The thing is, though, that I didn't even know this happened until I got my credit card bill one month and noticed that my interest rate had doubled. I was livid. Of course I canceled that account and transferred my balance to a card with a better rate. But I also learned a very valuable lesson.

debtfree2009 said...

I also have opted out of long distance service on my phone. I will keep an eye on the bill and any letters just to be sure they don't try to add to my service. Thanks for the reminder to check junk mail.