News

Question for the lawyers RE:problem with AT&T

Discussion in 'Other Off Topic Forum' started by SRT Mike, Jul 8, 2004.

  1. SRT Mike

    SRT Mike Two Time F1 World Champ

    Oct 31, 2003
    23,199
    Taxachusetts
    Full Name:
    Raymond Luxury Yacht
    I apologize in advance for the length of this.

    About 12 months ago I switched my business phone service from Verizon to AT&T for local and long distance service. About 9 months ago my girlfriend went to Cyprus for an extended vacation and she got a phone there. I called her a couple of times but I knew the rate would be high, so I searched online and found "10-10-987" provided by TelecomUSA who advertises a much better rate. Being a wary consumer, I called TelecomUSA to confirm this, and they said it *IS* available in my area, and that if I dial 10-10-987, I will either get a 2nd dialtone meaning it works, or I will get that "we're sorry, the number you have dialed....etc etc". About the same time an AT&T rep called about other services, so I asked if 10-10 numbers work and she said sure, and agreed the rate would be far superior to theirs. So, I try dialing 10-10-987 it and it works. I didn't remember to use it all the time (although I am sure I used it 99% of the time), and then I get my next bill at my work for over $600. I was alarmed, but I paid it and told myself I had learned my lesson, and started using 10-10-987 for every call. I dont remember when that was, but it was probably around February or so.

    I kept getting big bills from AT&T in March and April, and I was calling them and they were "looking into it" and kept putting the calls to Cyprus in "dispute" until it was resolved. Finally in late May I get a bill for over $2,000 that has a previous balance as well as $1,400 in new charges. I was *SURE* I was using this 10-10 number 100% of the time, and poring over my extremely confusing bill, I realize they are billing EVERY call to her at $1.50 per minute. I call them and a helpful guy looked into my history and asks if I have a "merlin system". I had no idea what it was, and he explained it was some sort of setup where you could choose how calls were dialed/routed. I have ANALOG phones, and when I told him this, he said that something was wrong since I was setup as having a "merlin" system and therefore all calls were being routed through AT&T and they were billing them all as direct dial. He agreed it was a mistake and put these calls in dispute (now $1,100 worth). I paid the rest of the bill.

    Today I get a letter from AT&T saying the dispute has been resolved and I must pay the money. It says "we recommend the customer check his equipment and its configuration as the source of the probelm". Furthermore, it says I must pay it ASAP or risk termination of service. I call them and the woman says they ONLY provide the line and whatever gets dialed is what they do. In essence, telling me I'm lying and I must have dialed direct or that I have some special system that I am unaware of. I told her I have AT&T brand ANALOG phones - just a jack, with a phone plugged in - no digital phone, no special system, nada. I ask her to read the dispute comments and she kept declining saying it was irrelevant. She said they do not deal in hardware and whatever the previous guy told me was not something he should have gotten into. FINALLY she did read it and it says "customer is setup with as having an autodialer which he says he does not have". The woman keeps telling me there is NOTHING she can do, and that they only provide the line, and whatever I dialed is what they billed me at. She furthermore says they DO NOT do 3rd party billing, in other words telling me they would never put TelecomUSA charges on my bill, and if I had used them I would get a seperate bill from TelecomUSA. When I call TelecomUSA, they confirm they never had me shown as using their service, but they also tell me that when I dial 10-10-987, and I get that pause then a 2nd dialtone, that the 2nd dialtone should be coming from their equipment and I am on the TelecomUSA network. They say that if I indeed did dial the number but it was billed by AT&T, that AT&T must have some configuration error preventing the call going to their system. They apologize but say its between me and AT&T. They don't care enough about the calls to get into it with AT&T on my behalf.

    AT&T tells me there is no appeal process of a dispute once they make a decision. I ask if I can speak to someone who made the decision - answer "no". I offer to make a call on 3-way conference with this woman so she can hear me dial 10-10-987 and she can look in her computer and see if it was billed direct or through 10-10. She says she can't see real time data and she is unwilling to do that and make a note that at "X" time I made a call and she witnessed it and I did dial the 10-10 number. I ask how I am supposed to get a fair decision since I can't appeal, can't speak to who makes the decision, and they won't take the time to do an unbiased test to see if its actually happening or not. She says the only thing they will do is open ANOTHER dispute but that after this one, I will have to abide by the final decision. Now obviously they are biased in this, they are making a decision alone and without even calling me to ask my side of it. The simple solution that would PROVE this is just to have them and I agree on a call time, let them witness it, and see how it shows in their system, but they WILL NOT do this.

    THIS IS BS!

    By this point I am keeping my calm but my blood is boiling. They are holding my account hostage. They tell me if I don't pay they will give it 30 days then turn off the service. This is a BUSINESS line and thats not an option. What can I do?

    When I first stated getting these big bills, I looked around at different services, and last week initiated a switch to another provider. I have 3-4 weeks left with AT&T, but I have great business credit and won't ruin it because of their mistake. And I don't want nasty letters and collectors calling me over their mistake.

    The ironic part is if I stupidly paid their $1.50/min rate thinking I must have started using this 10-10 number later than I thought. I think they actually OWE ME about $800!

    My plan is to use the 10-10 number to call the National Atomic Clock in England which is an automated service that speaks the date and time. When I get the bill, I will have proof that I called X number at Y time and the dialtones will be recorded showing the 10-10 number usage. Then, when I get the bill it will show the overbilling amount.

    But if AT&T again refuses to fix this (as I am sure they will), whats next? I am a stubborn SOB and I am 100% willing to sue them in court for this. But could I do it in my city or would it be in whatever state AT&T business is in? Could I sue them for the overbilling going back to when I swithed to AT&T? Should I even mention this to them or will they stop talking to me and refer it to their legal dept? Should I send them a last-chance-to-resolve letter? Should I contact the AG office? The BBB? I just want to be charged correctly and not be threatened in my business because of their mistake. And after all this, I would very much like to get my overpaid amount back.

    FYI, AT&T has no knowledge I have switched - they won't know until they get the switch order in 3-4 weeks. But my new provider did mention they may roadblock my switch if I have a large outstanding bill since they don't want people racking up bills and then just switching and ditching them.

    Any advice? I'm at my wits end!
     
  2. To remove this ad click here.

  3. darth550

    darth550 Five Time F1 World Champ
    Lifetime Rossa

    Jul 14, 2003
    58,839
    In front of you
    Full Name:
    BCHC
    I had the same problem calling Brazil and China with 10 10 987...only they were charging me $3.00/minute for the calls AND .35 for domestic long distance. (my plan called for .17 for Brazil, .20 for China and .07 for US).

    Every month I'd get a bill for between $1,400 and $2,500 (one time, I had a bill in the $4,000 range and they actually restricted my service to local calls only)! I would have to spend literally HOURS disputing the charges. Moron after moron on the phone! Different departments who claim they don't know or cant do what the other does! FINALLY, someone would see the problem, have to go through and manually re-rate every call on the bill. The bills usually ended up to be < $200.00 and the promise was made to me that my next bill would be charged at the, "Plan" rate. NEVER!

    EVERY TIME this happened, the one conscientious At&T Customer service person would assure me that they had solved it and would personally monitor the account the following month and gave me a direct # and extension to call, "Just in case". Every month it happened (lo and behold) the # was no good and no-one EVER knew who the last rep was.

    BTW, I ended up getting free minutes and large bill credits from the supervisors for my trouble every time!

    This took about 8 months to finally stop...and THANK GOD it has since now they have apparently outsourced their CS call center to somewhere in the Far East! What a f*cking nightmare THAT would have been!!

    Now...I have an unlimited plan for the US and I use calling cards for the overseas call I need to make. (Brazil for .02 and China for .05). My bills are < $40.00/month on avg.

    OH, and their wireless??????? Got another hour? I'll tell you about them sometime!

    DL
     
  4. richard_wallace

    richard_wallace Formula 3
    Rossa Subscribed

    Feb 6, 2004
    1,950
    Cincinnati, Ohio
    Full Name:
    Richard Wallace
    1.) You can dispute it - go further up the chain - first before you go the legal route. I belive AT&T has a consumer complaint/arbitration group (however they all have downsized due to the bad fiancials in this sector).
    2.) Merlin is a PBX switch... Easy to tell if you have one. Do you have company wide VM (Audix system)... Do you have muliple phones in your business - these are two good indications of a PBX/Phone System.
    3.) What they are saying does make some sense - if you have your calls routed directly through AT&T via a dedicated line (which is your telecome and internet) through you PBX - you would probably see a 10 10 987 bill and you would get charged by the minute through AT&T. If you have a maintenance contract with AT&T for maintenance of your PBX or your local telecom - this could help - you can claim it to be there set up problem... If it is AT&T you will surly win. If you had a local non-affliated company do it - they could be liable (unless they were told to do it that way).
    4.) Having worked as an exec in Telecom for many years - you just need to keep escalting this until you get someone to help... Continue to be polite - once you get irrate they will believe you are trying to get out of paying - rather than "their is a problem".
    5.) They really do not want to loose your business - they are all suffering right now - but with that they cannot do a lot of credits for the same reason. You can also work to get the charges spilt or billed over a longer period (as a non legal route). The last thing that they want to do is not get paid anything or go to court... So usually when it goes this far - settling becomes the norm.
    6.) You should have a log of all your calls if you do have a PBX - get them printed and in hard copies - it should show the 10-10-987 as well, document from memory all your conversations with TelecomUSA and AT&T. You can switch providers (downside - possibly having to change your number - but not necessarily always true - some carriers can reuse numbers). The worse that will happen - you will get a ding on your company credit rating - you will get letters for about 3 months, they will file a claim, you will go to court with all your records - and you might win or split.

    Just some of my thoughts.
     
  5. SefacHotRodder

    SefacHotRodder F1 World Champ

    Dec 20, 2003
    10,918
    NJ
    Full Name:
    Chris

    Don't get me started
     
  6. SRT Mike

    SRT Mike Two Time F1 World Champ

    Oct 31, 2003
    23,199
    Taxachusetts
    Full Name:
    Raymond Luxury Yacht
    I know for a fact I don't have a PBX system. I worked for several years doing networking and some minor telecom, and although I am not an expert, I am very familiar with what a digital system is - so I know for a fact I dont have one. I just have 2 analog lines and 2-line phones connected.

    I see what you're saying, but I dont have any of that - only analog lines.

    Well, they aren't going to get paid anything - the total of those calls is $1100... at the correct rate its more like $80. In addition, they have overbilled me for 6 months+. They owe ME money... so there is zero, zilch, nada way they are getting a single penny. There is no way I am going to get the charges "split" or payoff over a period - why would I? They messed up and its entirely on them IMO to fix it.

    I know i can keep my numbers - already checked that. The only copies of my calls are from the bill I get from them. It shows the # I called, and under call type it says "DDC" (direct dial call). They are just unwilling to do any test that would prove what I'm saying is right, and thats the problem. I just want to pay what I owe - which is $80 to them for the calls. I also want them to pay what they owe - which is about $600 or so to me. I'll take the difference.

    Thats the thing though - I dont want a ding on my co's credit. I work my butt of to pay bills on time and not let this type of thing happen. And just because AT&T has decided I owe money, I have no say in it? I know beyond any doubt that I am right on this one... so I refuse to accept anything less than a reduction in those charges to the correct rate, as well as repayment from them for the overbilled past amounts. If they refuse.... what are my options? I have zero problem going to small claims court on this, although I would much prefer to resolve this like adults with someone who is empowered to resolve it and who is understanding of what actually happened, and is willing to take a minute to verify my claims are true. You can sue for money - but how can you sue to not pay money?

    Thanks for your feedback - I appreciate it.
     
  7. To remove this ad click here.

  8. SRT Mike

    SRT Mike Two Time F1 World Champ

    Oct 31, 2003
    23,199
    Taxachusetts
    Full Name:
    Raymond Luxury Yacht
    Darth,

    Did you ever get to the bottom of why you weren't getting the 10-10-987 rate? It sounds like we have the exact same problem. I'm somewhat relieved to know someone else had the same problem and got it fixed. They tell me after I've disputed it I just have to wait while THEY and ONLY THEY decide whether they will accept it or not. Given the other gentlemans comments about downsizing in this sector, I bet there is a big management push NOT to credit customers. And an $1100 credit request plus a $600 repayment from them is probably pie in the sky as far as they are concerned.

    The CS rep I got had the absolute idiocy to suggest I "stop using 10-10-987". I said "so, what, just dial direct?". She said yes, until the situation was resolved. So, she suggests I willingly use their $1.50/minute service instead of having a valid beef about it? What a dummy!
     
  9. BigTex

    BigTex Seven Time F1 World Champ
    Rossa Subscribed Owner

    Dec 6, 2002
    74,136
    Houston, Texas
    Full Name:
    Bubba
    You'd better hurry!

    The ex is with AT&T 24 years, and they are announcing another layoff soon.......


    Looks like she'll be a target JUST SHY of age+years of service full benefits...nice way to treat employees for a lifetime of loyalty, eh?
    Makes me glad I dumped all the stock years ago.

    The company has been flown into the ground! Crash!
     
  10. darth550

    darth550 Five Time F1 World Champ
    Lifetime Rossa

    Jul 14, 2003
    58,839
    In front of you
    Full Name:
    BCHC
    They kept blaming it on a software issue whereby they (CS) changed it in their computer and, "Another Department's computer" didn't accept the change and billed me as though there was no plan at all.

    Now I rarely dial internationally through them in order to avoid the problem.

    Incidentally, my wife used 10 10 335 (for international calls) and was happy with it.

    Look into the calling cards.

    DL
     
  11. cochise

    cochise Karting

    Nov 3, 2003
    139
    Lake Mary, Florida
    Full Name:
    Dempsey Chavis
    Speedy is right ! AT&T is dissolving right in from of the business community.
    They are floundering with the absolute worst customer service in Telecom albeit with arguably the best hardware infrastucture. And after a hostile entry into wireless, by buying Bruce McCaw's Cellular One, remembe that ..and then couldn't keep it working...now selling out to Cingular. That is good news for ATT cell users! I used to work there...for 28 yrs 8 months.
     
  12. To remove this ad click here.

  13. darth550

    darth550 Five Time F1 World Champ
    Lifetime Rossa

    Jul 14, 2003
    58,839
    In front of you
    Full Name:
    BCHC
    My service and the CS has taken a significant dive since the very day that happened! Their canned response is now, "Well sir, that's cellular for you. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't, HE HE!"

    Makes me wanna kill!

    DL
     
  14. Challenge

    Challenge Formula 3

    Sep 27, 2002
    1,534
    PA
    Full Name:
    Kevin
    Might want to try your state's public utility commission and fcc.gov's complaint sumbission process. I had my corporate AT&T Business Manager (I deal mainly in toll-free) cough up some names and numbers from the corporate office in NJ when I had AT&T and AT&T Wireless issues (see my post "AT&T WIRELESS SUCKS" from a while back.

    PM me if you'd like these contacts.

    Also www.clarkhoward.com (consumer advocate) has a great telecom section and--I believe--links to complaint resolution websites that handle dispute resolution purportedly faster than the FCC itself.

    I am still dealing with my AT&T Wireless debacle and may end up using some AG complaint form letters to get my point across.

    Please stay away from AT&T's services.
     
  15. Challenge

    Challenge Formula 3

    Sep 27, 2002
    1,534
    PA
    Full Name:
    Kevin
  16. sparta49

    sparta49 F1 Veteran
    Owner

    Mar 3, 2001
    7,794
    LA
    Full Name:
    Frank
    sounds like AT&T and ALLTEL do business the same way. SCREW YOU EVERY CHANCE THEY GET
     

Share This Page