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Old 08-17-2013, 08:56 AM   #1
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Sawing Sawdust

That was a phrase we used to use for situations where a the whole purpose of the exercise has been lost and the remaining focus is on some small detail.

I've reluctantly been with one of the major communications companies for the 10 years that we've owned our current house. I had no choice if I wanted land line communications. They have never failed to mess up my bill with any change in services and it has often taken me up to 6 months of constant badgering of them to get the billing corrected. In that time, I've never missed or been late with any payment. As with all my bills, I take extraordinary pains to see that they are paid completely and on time.

Well last month, I messed up. I paid the bill through my bank's bill paying service as I always do but I transposed the last two digits, shorting the payment of the over $150 bill by $.15. I didn't realize at the time the mistake that I had made. The bill payment deadline came and I immediately started getting past due notices. Fearing what they might do, I called them and asked to include the errant $.15 along with my next billing. Before they would talk to me, they insisted that I make a pledge to make a separate payment of the $.15 because my account was now past due. THE WHOLE ACCOUNT IS PAST DUE! The representative was obviously following a script.

I cannot wait to see what happens next month. My normal billing is dated the 5th but, as of 15th, I still had not received it. I finally got it yesterday and set up my bank payment for the total amount including my errant $.15. I set the date for separate payment date that they insisted that I set, not that payment's later due date.

I do realize that the company probably deals with deadbeats every month and that there are a pile of government regulations about how they have to deal with them. Somehow lost in all of that is the fact that customers are humans, not computers and that occasionally the best of us make a mistake. That one $.15 error in 10 years of on time monthly payments immediately turns me into a deadbeat is just beyond my comprehension.

My mental picture of the big sawblade moving back and forth through a pile of sawdust is all that comes to mind.
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Old 08-17-2013, 09:30 AM   #2
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I would have done without a landline starting YEARS ago but this would have definitely sealed the deal for me. It's YOUR money. YOU are the customer. (and a valuable one at that) Try some VOIP. I know almost nothing about it but I know there must be some other options. And for $150/mo it shouldn't be that hard to find one. I'm sorry to hear you're being treated this way by a company that should be thankful for your business. Good luck.
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Old 08-17-2013, 09:49 AM   #3
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I would have done without a landline starting YEARS ago but this would have definitely sealed the deal for me. It's YOUR money. YOU are the customer. (and a valuable one at that) Try some VOIP. I know almost nothing about it but I know there must be some other options. And for $150/mo it shouldn't be that hard to find one. I'm sorry to hear you're being treated this way by a company that should be thankful for your business. Good luck.

The total bill includes internet service and our DirecTV satellite (it is a long story). Actually, the fiber optic phone and internet have been flawless and well worth the price that we are paying for them as part of the bundle. VOIP assumes that you have a basic Internet connection and I have looked into Ooma and the others but I would still end up dealing with this company unless I went to a wireless Internet connection or a company like Hughsnet for satellite Internet. I can pay the DirecTv bill separately and cut the bill down but totally eliminating working with this company would be difficult.

The basic problem is that the communications company is really a utility since it has an exclusive franchise through our town (which gets a whopping franchise tax off my bill every month). As a utility, they really don't have to worry much about how they treat customers.
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Old 08-17-2013, 10:16 AM   #4
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Aren't all these services you receive billed in advance? Eg: the bill you are paying is for next month's service plus any extras you have used? It amazes me how they can become past due before you even use what you are paying for? It is too bad that the reps are forced to hold the company policy lines. If you are upset and angry with their service and attitude, I am a firm believer that you have to climb the corporate ladder to get what you need and want. Having worked in a utility in a management position, I was able to satisfy customers where the reps weren't. What is the old line "the squeaky wheel gets the grease"
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Old 08-17-2013, 10:19 AM   #5
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We had a similar situation with AT&T a couple of years ago. We were with them forever, and had their DSL service for several years. The DSL was the ONLY reason we still had a land line since we use our cell phones for ALL phone communications. Anyway, we get our bill one month and it has gone up by $5 - with no change in the service, or anything. The wife calls to find out what the extra $5 is for, and finds out that it is a service charge because we are not using the long distance service we are paying for! They would be happy to remove the service charge if we would only make a single long distance call each month...
.
So, we went to our cell phone provider and got a mifi unit, and called AT&T back and told them to shut off our land line. After having the same house phone number for over 30 years it's kind of weird knowing that someone else now has "our" number!
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Old 08-17-2013, 10:28 AM   #6
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Aren't all these services you receive billed in advance? Eg: the bill you are paying is for next month's service plus any extras you have used? It amazes me how they can become past due before you even use what you are paying for? It is too bad that the reps are forced to hold the company policy lines. If you are upset and angry with their service and attitude, I am a firm believer that you have to climb the corporate ladder to get what you need and want. Having worked in a utility in a management position, I was able to satisfy customers where the reps weren't. What is the old line "the squeaky wheel gets the grease"
My personal experience in escalating problems within this company tells me that it is an exercise in futility. They are very badly managed and the management team has gone to great lengths to insulate themselves from customer complaints. I've given up being upset and angry with them. It is to no avail.

While I didn't include it in my initial post, they were going to apply service and finance charges for the $.15 to my bill if I had not agreed to set an early date for its payment. If I hadn't made that early date, those charges would have been included in my next billing. A $.15 mistake would have cost me over $40.
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Old 08-17-2013, 10:33 AM   #7
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We had a similar situation with AT&T a couple of years ago. We were with them forever, and had their DSL service for several years. The DSL was the ONLY reason we still had a land line since we use our cell phones for ALL phone communications. Anyway, we get our bill one month and it has gone up by $5 - with no change in the service, or anything. The wife calls to find out what the extra $5 is for, and finds out that it is a service charge because we are not using the long distance service we are paying for! They would be happy to remove the service charge if we would only make a single long distance call each month...
.
So, we went to our cell phone provider and got a mifi unit, and called AT&T back and told them to shut off our land line. After having the same house phone number for over 30 years it's kind of weird knowing that someone else now has "our" number!
Unfortunately for us, AT&T and my current company are the only places to get MiFi type service in our area. Coverage from other cell type carriers does not include our house. I view going to AT&T for anything as jumping from the frying pan into the fire.

While I understand the benefits of cell support, my experience is that cell networks are the first to go out in any sort of an emergency. We do have cell phones but I'm trying to keep the fiber optic connection open as a backup. I realize that comes at a price.
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Old 08-17-2013, 07:14 PM   #8
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Stories like this remind me why 7 years ago we dropped our land lines. Sadly I don't get any of those great calls to make purchases that I didnt ask for and no more wrong calls and I do miss all of the political calls at election time and of course we especially miss the calls for donations but we are trying to get by with just our cell phones and hoping to make do ! NOT
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Old 08-17-2013, 08:50 PM   #9
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Stories like this remind me why 7 years ago we dropped our land lines. Sadly I don't get any of those great calls to make purchases that I didnt ask for and no more wrong calls and I do miss all of the political calls at election time and of course we especially miss the calls for donations but we are trying to get by with just our cell phones and hoping to make do ! NOT
Please share your cell phone carrier. I'm getting more marketing calls on my cell phone now than on my land line. I've even gotten a couple of donation calls. The politicians have not found my cell phone number - yet.
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Old 08-17-2013, 10:21 PM   #10
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We had a similar problem and filed a complaint online with the FCC. Within 24 hours, one of the Vice Presidents from Verizon called, apologized, and fixed the problem. I would definitely suggest filing the complaint since your company seems to have a monopoly in your town.
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Old 08-21-2013, 11:12 AM   #11
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every 5 years, you need to call the no call site. I don't know if it is the same everywhere, but in Kansas, I call 888-382-1222 from the phone I want off the list. I have to make 2 calls, one for the house phone and one for my cell phone, and call from that phone.


as for the $.15 it would have been worth the damn drive to go and slap the coins down on the desk at the main office and say my name and "here is your past due money" walk off and let them deal with it. Of ocurse any office close to you is probably not where the billing happens.... but it would let off steam for me.
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Old 08-24-2013, 08:40 AM   #12
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as for the $.15 it would have been worth the damn drive to go and slap the coins down on the desk at the main office and say my name and "here is your past due money" walk off and let them deal with it. Of ocurse any office close to you is probably not where the billing happens.... but it would let off steam for me.
Like most big telecom companies, they no longer have "store fronts" anywhere. All of them seem to offer offices which specialize in their wireless products but none that give them a physical presence for anything else.

Given that option, I would have gleefully taken 15 pennies and handed them over, 1 at a time. It would have been fun to ask for a receipt for each payment. But alas, they made sure that wasn't possible.

I've received written correspondence from them, reminding me that I agreed to pay $.15 by August 26th. Some businesses automatically write off any amount less than $2 because it costs more to write letters about and to deal with it than they will get out of it. With this company, I think I would be dealing with the matter the same way if mine had been a $.02 error.
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Old 08-24-2013, 08:56 AM   #13
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Dropped the land line as soon as cable internet became available.
Dropped cable when we sold house and went F/T.

Each step was a liberating thrill.
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