Can they really do this?

on Apr 21, 2009 @ 02:36 pm

I just had the most horrific experience with my phone company. I don't want to say who they are because I'm not trying to make anyone look bad, I just want to know if anyone else is having this same problem because something needs to be done about it.

I signed up for this company (one of the smaller telcos) 4 years ago for my residential and long distance telephone service. About a year ago we also added an additional line for fax. We have had pretty decent experience up until now.

Last month, our fax line was somehow hijacked by telephone scammers. They used our number to call all over the United States, claiming to be from a bank, asking people for their personal banking information. The people receiving these calls would start asking questions, and the scammers would hang up. Because the scammers were using our number, our number was appearing on everyone's call display and we were getting phone calls from people all over the United States with people asking if we had just called them. Obviously we had not.

At first we assumed these were just wrong numbers but it became so frequent we finally asked one person what number they were calling and why they thought we had called. They read us our fax number and said the person who had called claimed to be from the bank!

When we found out what was happening we immediately called our telephone company and filed a complaint. In the mean time, some of the victims had also called to complain. The telco's fraud department eventually got everything cleared up and we asked them to cancel our compromised phone line. We thought that was the end of it...

This month I get the bill and it's claiming we used over 1,500 minutes of long distance, which is an amount I've never used in the entire 4 years of my service. We have a plan where we get 1000 minutes for $10/month as a package. The bill we got was only 2 pages and it only showed the calls supposedly made after the 1000 minutes had run out. There was no call details for the previous 1000 minutes at all. Naturally I suspected the reason our calls had run so high was because of what the scammers had done. I called the phone company asking where the rest of my bill was. They said that they had changed their policy and from now on, customers would only see the calls made AFTER the 1000 minutes had been used up. So basically, "just trust us that you've used those 1000 minutes already. And here's what is left over."

I told them first, that is not reasonable. A customer should always be able to see the break down of the calls they made. Second, as you know our phone line was involved in a scam and there should be some notes on the file. I need to see the break down of the calls to make sure that what you are billing me for is in fact mine.

The agent flatly said, you are wrong and I don't have to prove to you that those calls are yours. You just need to take my word for it. (!!!!)

Question: How can a company legally charge their customers without providing all details of the bill?

This answer was of course unacceptable, so I asked to speak to the agent's supervisor, which she refused. Instead after an hour on the phone, she transfered me to technical support (??) who handles the internet. Obviously she just wanted to get rid of me.

I made several hours worth of calls trying to speak to a supervisor without success. The call center is located in India and all of the agents we spoke to were so agressive and rude, refusing to pass me along to their supervisor and telling me that I shouldn't be complaining about not being able to see my bill because apparently there is some fine print somewhere that says they don't have to show me what I am being billed for.

Finally two days ago, I got a call back from a supervisor in India who shouted at me and told me that the fraud that happened on our line was "nothing but a nuissance" and that those calls are mine but he doesn't have to prove that to me. He was agressive and billigerant. I asked who I could speak to in Canada. He said he didn't ahve to give me that information.

I asked for the contact information for the office of the president. His response: "I can't give that to you." Then I asked, well where is your head office? "I can't tell you that." At this point I am shouting and telling them that what they are doing is illegal. Finally he gave me a local number supposedly for the head office, but it too connects me with an agent in India.

After searching online today, we finally found head office and some senior people to complain to about this. The woman we dealt with sent us the full bill via email within 2 minutes of asking and sure enough the bill was full of calls all over the United States that we didn't make. It was all part of the fraud that we had suspected all along. She offered us a $50 credit (they had overbilled us about $35) and some air miles. Frankly, they probably should have just given us the month for free given what they attempted to pull and the horrible service we endured. We accepted it, but I still have a bitter taste in my mouth over the following:

Horrendous customer service. Since when is the customer always wrong?

How dare any company charge you without itemizing the bill? Can you imagine getting your credit card statement one month that just said "$1,000." but no break down of the charges? Would you pay that?? That is exactly what this phone company is expecting of its customers.

Has anyone else had this experience and what did you do about it?

7 Replies

Similar.....ish........ on Apr 21, 2009 @ 05:40 pm

Holy, just reading that story angers me! I'm surprised you kept your cool for so long. I would have done the same thing as you though and not given up on finding out the Canadian office details. That's just ridiculous that they wouldn't give it to you.

I had a similar situation with my cell bill. It came up to about $1500 one month, for what reason you ask? Data. I apparently racked up so much data that it was going to cost me $1500. The best part - I didn't even own a phone that had data capabilities.

It took me a while, but I spoke with a rep who said there was nothing he could do and that I must have used data with email or something (even though I stressed to him that I had a phone that doesn't even send emails).

I eventually got fed up with him saying that I had to pay it, so I told him to check my 10 year history with their company and see that I have never once racked up a bill like this. He did - and voila - the charges were taken off. I had to pay a $100 unlimited data fee though - which in the long run, they still nabbed me of $100 (I'd take that over $1500 though).

I'm glad your situation got resolved! But you're right about customer service. It seems that these big corporations hide behind their telephone lines and several levels of customer 'service'.

Never take no as an answer from anyone who can't give it to you in the first place.


Ali de Bold
Wow on Apr 21, 2009 @ 05:54 pm

How infuriating!

Marayna, I would've refused even the $100 since those weren't your charges. I don't understand when companies try to bully customers into paying for charges it is easy to prove weren't legit.

insane! on Apr 22, 2009 @ 09:25 am

It's funny that they would do that, since most other businesses are far more accommodating than that. The one or two times I've contested an item on my VISA bill, the agents were extremely helpful and everything was resolved quickly and politely. This reminds me of the thread we have about worst customer experiences ever!

I agree with mamaluv... on May 11, 2009 @ 10:13 pm

It's usually best to use your credit card for charges like these, it's much easier to contest fraudulent charges.

Credit cards are like guns; they can be dangerous in the wrong hands. However when used properly they offer great consumer protection and rewards!

I would never have paid any of those bills. I would have let Visa/Mastercard deal with it.

Telephone companuis are the worst on May 12, 2009 @ 11:11 am

I assume most people working for these companies hate it, I know a few people who work the phones at a telephone company and despise it. They tell me stories of them being rude to customers and I am appalled, I could never be that rude!

When I moved out of residence in University they wouldn't let me keep my number because I moving across town. So I canceled my number and signed up for a new one, paying off the old bill. During the summer I made sure to always pay the bill on time. Then in the fall my phone suddenly stops working. I called the company from another phone and they explained I had not paid in my bill in months! I immediately gave them all the reference numbers for my paid bills, as well as dates and amounts paid. It took a long time to sort out, but apparently all that money was going towards my old phone number! The weird thing is that that number belonged to another person now - didn't it seem strange their bill was being paid by someone else? And my bill never reflected a huge amount, so I had no idea what was going on. It took a lot of yelling, as they kept insisting I pay (apparently it was my mistake, I paid the wrong billing number, but I don't see how this could occur unless they sent me the wrong bill). Finally it worked out, but the bastards made me pay the $50 reconnection fee, despite it being all their fault! I was livid. When I moved to my house I was forced to use the same company because they owned the box in my backyard, but I have since switched and am much happier, despite the weekly letters I get from Bell begging me to come back (I should write them a letter telling them how many trees they are wasting on a lost cause). I will never ever use any of their products or services again.

I think, Anon, that by law you do have a right to all the information of your bill. You also have a right to see all notes on file at your bank and other companies you are connected to financially, within 48 hours of your request to do so (not sure about the time period, but it's a short time period, if I remember correctly). I believe this is all covered by the privacy act? I think by having their company offshore in India makes it very difficult for customers to complain, and for their employees to be held responsible. This is so wrong, the customer should be given the benefit of the doubt, and they absolutely have a right to speak to a supervisor. What cheek! I would leave them, that bitter taste never quite leaves, it's been 7 years for me and I am still mad about that incident.

Switch companies! on May 13, 2009 @ 01:15 am

I'm not sure about any of this legal stuff but considering what happened I'd switch companies soon. They shouldn't treat you like this. I actually think you should tell us who you dealt with so we don't sign up with the same company. This is what happens, you treat someone badly and the word spreads. People shouldn't have to go through this much trouble in my opinion.

agreed!! on May 13, 2009 @ 10:52 pm

I'm getting mad just reading your post (original post...actually all of them!). Services providers should NOT be treating their customers like this!!!

Imo we're all in 'customer service' in some form or another, and my more so as I'm in IT. One of my coworkers actually told me that "customer always right" theory is no longer in practice, and that you have to tell the customers what is right and make them accept it. His theory lies along curt, rude, impolite behaviour to customers so most of them who don't want the hassle just take you at your word and leave it at that. Either that or lie to the customer and have them believe a ridiculous reason rather than do the work. These are all internals customers by the way... his behavious is appalling, and I just hate listening to him carry on.

When it comes to Internet, Land Line or Cellphone companies, have you guys tried threatening to leave them?

I recently wanted to upgrade my phone to a blackberry. I wanted to extend my soon to expire contract to 3 more years and get the discounted price for the new Javeline. I'm with Rogers, and they refused!! They basically said I didn't spend enough money with them to warrent them letting me have this discount. So basically I've been with Rogers since 2002 or so, and just because I pay my bills on time, and I don't go over my limit, I'm not good business?? So a faithful customer of x many years has less rights than someone who will newly suscribe to a 3yr plan?? Boy was I pissed!!! Anyways I spoke to several agents and they more or less told me the same thing. So I told them to transfer me to their cancellation department, because my contract is over and theres nothing to keep me with Rogers. I mght as well sign up with another company and get my BB at a discounted price (i was not bluffing at all at this point)!! So then they transferred me to their retention department, the agent who took my call was very nice and understanding. I ordered the BB over the phone and it was delivered to me within 3 days, and I have the phone and data plan i wanted too.

Its sad though that I had to get tough before they treated me well. So others who won't, will basically be screwed.

And I agree with TigerLilly - anonym you should tell us who this company is just so we know to stay away. That is the price companies should pay for bad customer service. If they don't, they'll never learn or change their ways.


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