A few years ago I traveled out of state with my cellular phone. While I was on vacation, I used my phone a couple of times for less than 10 minutes. Not one time did my phone show "roam" on the screen. When my bill came in, I checked the charges and all of the calls I made were "in network" and I was not charged roaming at all.
A year after that, I went back to the same place to visit a sick relative. While I was out there, I had many calls to catch up on. Since I had my phone with me, I used it again to make some calls. Since I had not been charged roaming the prior year, I used my cell phone.
When I got my bill the following month I had charges of $500+ on my bill for one month! So I called the company. They told me that since I had been in a roaming area prior, that I was supposed to assume that I would be in roaming again. (Two totally different states Iowa and Maine with no roaming last year!)
I informed the CSR that I had been in the SAME LOCATION (with in INCHES) as I was a year ago, and that there were no roaming charges then, and I didn't understand why there was then. She informed me that I should have called before I left to check if I would be in roaming. I told her that I had a family emergency and had to leave right away and since I was sitting inches away from where I had been the prior year with no roaming I assumed that there would be none this year. I also pointed out that my phone didn't say I was in a "roaming" area.
They offered me a $50 credit towards my bill. I was not happy, so they offered to let me make payments on the bill as well as a free upgraded phone and changed my plan so I wouldn't have roaming charges ever again. I told her I had been a loyal customer for the last 5 years, and had NEVER missed a payment, and had never been more than 1 day late on my payments. She told me as long as I kept making larger payments for the next two- three months I would be fine.
So the first month I did as I was told. I paid the months usage charges plus an additional $150 towards the bill at total of $200. I did the same thing the next month. The following month I went out of town again, I called the phone company and verified that I would not have roaming charges. They told me that I would not. I also checked on the bill and they said that I was fine.
Well, I went on vacation and the first night out of town, the comany decided to shut my phone off. I called them and asked them what was going on. They told me that my bill was past due for more than two months and they had to shut it off. I explained that I had talked with someone (I gave the name of the person) and they told me as long as I made payments I would be fine. The person I talked to told me that I was misinformed and that all the fee's I'd been paying had gone to the $500 bill from a couple of months ago. I understood that part, but I had made payment arrangements with the billing department. She told me that billing doesn't make those types of arrangements and since cell phone's aren't detrimental if turned off there was nothing she could do unless I paid $300 to pay for the remaing balance and current charges.
I told her I didn't have that kind of funds available that day and asked if I could pay $150 now and $150 in a week. She said I could, but they wouldn't be able to turn my phone back on.
They kept the phone off, meanwhile my son was back home, in the hosptial from a high fever. His grandparents had no other way to contact me outside of my cell phone. When I got home, I called the company again, paid off what I owed. They informed me I had been with the company for more than 2 years, I no longer had any "contracts" with them and they told me I was "month to month" now. I canceled my service then and there, knowing I wouldn't have any cancelation fees.
When I canceled my service via AT&T the woman told me, "We're going to prorate it starting a week ago." Um, I just paid off the entire bill, why would they charge me from a week ago? She stated that was company policy. They wanted to double bill me.
A few weeks later I got a bill for an additional $100. Sorry, but one weeks worth of cell phone service isn't $100. When I called to inquire about that, they couldn't even find the account that charge was linked to. Right, I'm going to send off $100 for the company to pocket- not knowing what it was for.
St Paul, Minnesota
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