AT&T Billing

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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