I signed a 1-year contract with Bell Atlantic Mobile for service for an analog phone. At the end of the contract period I was supposed to go to a month to month contract that I could cancel service for at any time. After the 1 year contract ended the monthly bill was just paid each month and the account was kept active.
Then a representative from Bell Atlantic Mobile / Verizon not called me at my New Jersey home phone number and said something to the effect of: Hello, since you are such a good customer we'd like to give you 100 free minutes over the next three months. At no time was there ever any mention in that short phone call of a 1-year contract. Not thinking anything of it I didn't say, no I refuse to allow you to give away 100 free minutes to me. Instead I just said sure, thanks. This didn't seem unusual to me since I hadn't used the phone to make a phone call on in a long time and I thought this was an incentive for me to use the phone more often. Those free minutes were only useful in a very limited region around my house, after that I would get nailed with long distance charges.
So, I took up a digital phone contract with another provider. Verizon Wireless (as Bell Atlantic Mobile is called now) was much more expensive than their competitors in this market (NJ metro)at the time. Not thinking I'd have any problem since the original 1-year contract ended almost 3 years ago, I went to cancel the Bell Atlantic account and surprise I have an unbreakable 1-year contract I never agreed to or even knew about becuase I "accepted" (they told me it was a gift!) the 100 free minutes (that I doubt I even used). And apparently this contract that I never signed or knew about is unbreakable because there is a clause in the original contract I signed almost 4 years ago (or so the 4 customer service reps I've talked to tell me) that states if I ever receive an upgrade to the phone, free minutes, or any other promotion I am automatically obligated for a 1 year contract (hhmmm original sales rep left that one out!) Since I haven't seen this contract in years I can't verify whether this is true or not at this time, this is just what I was told. I was also told that a computer generated letter advising me of this contract went out in October. I have never seen this piece of mail (obviously, I would have canceled the phone immediately if I had seen it in my mail).
So now I'm stuck with 2 cell phone contracts and a company that, even though they were less than truthful with me, refuses to cancel this bogus contract I never knew about unless I pay them $175. To add insult to injury I don't think I ever used any of the free minutes. The phone is kept in the car for emergencies only and I didn't happen to have called AAA for a roadside emergency during Oct-Dec.
I tried to explain this to several Verizon Wireless/Bell Atlantic Mobile reps but all I got was the same answer, no! They ever so graciously (heavy sarcasm here) offered to let me buy out the rest of my contract which means I pay them the same I am right now and lose access to the phone and phone number. Gee Thanks.
One manager told me that there was no one higher up I could talk to about this after her (hmmm I doubt that) and another manager in a different office (I called back a few minutes later) told me that 1) if I couldn't keep track of my own mail that was my own fault and 2) to go ahead to contact whatever 2nd party (e.g. Better Business Bereau) I wanted to.
So now I'm just posting this complaint on whatever web forums I can to get the word out that Bell Atlantic Mobile has these tricky clauses in their contracts and could care less if their own representatives engage in misleading and confusing advertising practices with their long term loyal customers.