After a couple of years with Alltel and relatively decent service, everything came tumbling down with our latest bill.
I saw the writing on the wall on April 3rd, when I went to add a new telephone number to "My Circle". I logged into My Account and noticed all of the My Circle information I had was gone.I called 611 from my cellular phone and the operator told me to re-enter everything. She spoke as if this was an everyday problem and didn't bother researching anything.
I re-entered my information and printed a copy, half expecting to find a problem on the next bill.
Boy, was I right.
Our bill arrived shortly thereafter with over $60 in overage charges. Some of the phone calls I was billed for were supposedly from my cellular phone TO my cellular phone. There are a couple of these, with prices from $10 to $12 each. I don't call myself -- I'm not that interesting. The Alltel records only showed *incoming* calls from myself to myself. Had I actually called myself, I would have expected to see an entry for the incoming call *and* the outgoing call.
None of this should matter, because mobile-to-mobile calls are supposedly free and unlimited in my rate plan.
I was also being billed for calls to members of My Circle, which are also supposed to be free and unlimited. Many of the billed calls occurred *after* I re-entered my "missing" My Circle information.
Alltel has handled our telephone calls regarding this manner extremely poorly. Every time we call in, we are initially told that they can't view or call details because we don't subscribe to something called "detailed billing" (which they charge for on a monthly basis). Alltel will then claim they can't help research their bogus bill because I am not paying them for this "detailed billing".
Classy, huh? It gets better.
I can download my call details as Excel spreadsheets from their website for free.After telling the representative that I'm not going to play their "detailed billing" game, they admit the information is available to them.
Nobody I've spoken to has been able to explain why I'm being charged for these calls. Everyone needs to research the problem and call back. Of course, nobody ever returns a phone call and there is no way to contact these support people. I can only imagine this technique is standard operating procedure: It gets customers off the phone and lets another day or two go by before the bill becomes due and the customer has to pay up or risk early termination fees.
Completely fed up, I took my laptop with the Excel spreadsheet and sat down with someone at my local Alltel store. I had to drive over 50 miles and stand around for 45 minutes before I could speak with someone. The Alltel guy couldn't believe the billing problems. We went through all of my calls, including the My Circle errors. He submitted my bill for a "re-rating" and I received a text message from Alltel saying my bill had been reduced by $28:
FREE ALLTEL MSG: A rate plan adjustment for ($28.00) has been completed. For current balance info dial *611 from your mobile phone. Thank U for choosing Alltel.
Unfortunately, this isn't even half of the amount Alltel is trying to scam out of me. I called the representative at the local Alltel store. He is unable to determine which calls were credited and which weren't. He said that he'd make some phone calls and would get back to me today. The store is now closed and I never heard from him.
Alltel is also showing over 600 minutes of our 1200 minutes have been used for the current month. Best I can tell, all of my My Circle calls are being counted as normal airtime usage this month. I won't be able to see the call details until the next billing cycle.
I've spent over a week trying to resolve this problem and have had little assistance from Alltel. I have already filed a BBB complaint and will be sending off a complaint to the North Carolina Attorney General's Consumer Protection Office later this week.
If you're unfortunate enough to be an Alltel customer, keep a close eye on your "My Circle" numbers. I strongly recommend printing the webpage out at least monthly. If you get a monster bill without making any significant changes to your calling patterns, research the issue completely.
Unfortunately, this is where my advice will stop because Alltel doesn't seem at all interested in resolving their billing problems.
I will be looking for another carrier when this contract expires.
Shame on you, Alltel!
Raleigh, North Carolina
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