• Report: #507269

Complaint Review: CORRECTIONAL BILLING SERVICES - GLOBAL TEL*LINK

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  • Submitted: Sat, October 10, 2009
  • Updated: Wed, January 06, 2010

  • Reported By: Sara — Green Cove Springs Florida USA
CORRECTIONAL BILLING SERVICES - GLOBAL TEL*LINK
www.gtl.net/ Internet United States of America

CORRECTIONAL BILLING SERVICES - GLOBAL TEL*LINK This company is a rip off to families of inmates. The rates are outrageous and ridiculously high with fees on top of fees! Internet

*Consumer Comment: I concur

*General Comment: gtl

*General Comment: gtl

*Consumer Comment: Agreed

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I have a loved one in an TN state prison who uses Global Tel Link as the only provider for inmate calls. This company is gettignr ich quick on inmate family and friends. This is a copy who charges outrageous rates for long distance calls and then places fees on top of fees for each individual call. The calls are dropped, but you still get charged. You can pre-pay with your creidt card and you get charged extra without being told of the charges. I pay the bill each month because I can have so many calls before they place a block on my phone. The bill is any where form $100 to $300 a month and sometimes more. The block can be on my phone for over a month because they say that my phone company takes so long to pay them.  I tried using the pre-pay and I put $50.00 on the account, was charged a 8.95 processing fee which I was not made aware of and then recieved 2 calls and the phone was blocked. I have filed a complaint with the FCC to no avail. I even sent them copies of my bill. The federal government won't do anything about it because their trying to run everything anyway and taking away our constitutional rights one at a time. The prisons or the states in which the prisons are located won't do anything about it because they are some how getting kick backs from it. I can get a long distance call on my phone though my phone carrier and the charge is 1/4 of the price of the calls from Global Tel Link without all the extra fees. Why can't something be done about this? There are inmates who would love to speak to thier mother or father who are elderly and because the cost of the calls are so expensive they cannot afford to talk to their loved one. They can barely ourchase thier monthly medications. I know an elderly woman who has not spoken to her son in over 10 years because she cannot afford the calls and she is unable to travel due to her health. So who is this punishing and or costing? It is costing and punishing the families and friends! It needs to stop and stop soon! People across the country are getting ripped off every single day and this company just keeps getting richer and richer. The representatives are rude, misleading and out right lying to consumers. Thye are cheating people left and right and no one gives a rat's ass about it. How long do we have to put up with this before someone has the guts to stand up and say enough is enough. When Ma Bell had the monopoly on the telephone service the government stepped in and said okay, you have to break it up and let other companies offer the same service. If they can do that then why are they letting Global Tel LInk have a monopoly on inmate calling? There are no options, just GTL. You are forced to use this company if you want to stay in touch with your loved ones and with the economy not getting any better with Obama change it is getting harder and harder to afford the bills. Please why can't someone take on this company and file a class action suit in each state?  Come on are there any guttsy lawyers out there?

This report was posted on Ripoff Report on 10/10/2009 11:02 AM and is a permanent record located here: http://www.ripoffreport.com/r/CORRECTIONAL-BILLING-SERVICES-GLOBAL-TELLINK/internet/CORRECTIONAL-BILLING-SERVICES-GLOBAL-TELLINK-This-company-is-a-rip-off-to-families-of-507269. The posting time indicated is Arizona local time. Arizona does not observe daylight savings so the post time may be Mountain or Pacific depending on the time of year.

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#1 Consumer Comment

I concur

AUTHOR: Tim - (U.S.A.)

I'm not sure who is running the phone system at our local clink, or who exactly is profiting from it. The phones seem to list the company as "Charge-A-Call," but who knows who the hell this is.

Here's the financial rundown: aside from those made to a number associated with a prepaid plan, the calls are collect and cost $10 flat to a land-line, which gets you fifteen minutes, and $15 flat to a cell phone, which gets you ten minutes. An outsider can purchase a type of phone card that lessens the per-call price, but comes with a hefty service fee, minimum (and non-refundable) initial payment of $50, and god only knows what the "connection fees" and per minute fees are.

Mind you (for those who may wish to dismiss the consumer rights of inmates), these costs are incurred by family and friends, NOT the inmates.

Now, unfortunately, I've been a visitor to this facility a couple of times. I would estimate that, in a given week, 60 pre-sentence, bondable inmates are lodged. Each makes a likely average of three calls before being bonded out. At a minimum, and this is only including the "holding cell" inmates, the phone system is raking in $1800 per week.

With an average "sentenced" population of 400 persons, assuming that each makes one call per week, the system is raking in, at a minimum, $4,000 per week.

So we're talking an easy six grand per week, roughly $300,000 per year (and probably much more) from nothing more than phone calls, in a county with a population of about 40,000.

NOW, for the icing on the cake, you can add in the profits from the commisssary program. I wouldn't even know what the total is, but I do know that a pack of Ramen Noodles, which costs about 15 cents at the grocery store, runs for about a dollar in the commissary. So somebody is making an enormous profit from that as well. And again, these funds are not coming from the inmates themselves, but from their loved ones on the outside.

The moral question of whether or not we care about an inmate's expenses are irrelevant. This is purely a consumer issue. I would say, with a fair degree of certainty, that the process of gaining the telephone or commissary contract to a local jail or prison is highly competitive across the country, because the potential profits are enormous.

Given these factors, and if enough investigation was put into the matter, I am sure you would find an unbelievable degree of collusion and corruption across the board. The problem is that nobody really cares because, after all, we're dealing with criminals (or suspected criminals).

But in reality we are not dealing with criminals. We are dealing with their loved ones on the outside. And consumer rights should definitely be enforced. How to go about doing so? I don't know. You're dealing with a rather unsympathetic cause. Nonetheless, people are definitely being ripped off by this system.

Best regards to all, especially those who are suffering due to this injustice.

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#2 General Comment

gtl

AUTHOR: Pamela - (U.S.A.)

I support a juvenile inmate at Walnut Grove Juvenile prison in Mississippi. The facility switched from IC Solutions to GTL recently. Yes, it is a rip-off and rates are  not posted anywhere either on their website or in the brochure passed out by the facility.

An automated prepay amount of $50, gets the inmate only $40 talk time after the 19% fee (not quoted to the customer at the time of the payment). IC Solutions waived the $5.95 fee if you put $50 prepaid funds which was generous by GTL standards. 

GTL offers the option of mailing a check or money order with no fee but it takes 7-10 business days to post. I plan ahead and mail a check just to avoid the 19% rip off fee. It's worth it.

GTL's fees servicing Walnut Grove CF:

Local: flat rate of $2.85 if the number is in the same county or local area as the facility (generally a prefix in the county the facility is in). 

Local Extended (couple counties from the facility): $2.50 connection fee/.21 cents per minute, plus tax (.47). A twenty minute call costs $7.44 within a 30 mile radius of the facility. 

In-State: $2.41 connection fee/.25 cents minute plus tax .

Out-of-State $3.95 connection fee/.89 cents per minute, plus tax.

The automated message only tells you there is a fee to add money to the prepaid account, but does not tell you it is 19% and comes out of the prepaid money.

The customer billing department can't tell you ahead of time where the number the inmate is calling to falls within their geographical range/fee scheme. To find out out the charge the inmate has to at least attempt to make a call to the number. At that time by pressing a certain key on the phone you hear the charge/rates or by calling GTL after the call. But, interestingly, no one in the company can tell you ahead of time what the fees will be based on the phone number. The inmate has to use it first. Weird.

My solution has been to get a cell number in the same prefix (not just same area code) as the facility. Some area code ranges are very big so you need to get the same prefix to get the flat rate. There are different ways to do that. Warning, a customer service person with GTL tried to tell me as of Jan 2, 2010 the company will be billing by tracking the ping from the cell tower the number bounces off of. I was skeptical of that and discovered upon researching, it was a flat out lie. Pings are part of private phone records. Even law enforcement has to subpoena these records. Therefore don't be fooled by GTL's scare tactics scaring folks who try to find a way around this corrupt, greedy company that makes it's living gouging families and friends who can least afford it and who are not incarcerated. Even though a person is locked up in this country (2.5 million plus Americans) they are still human beings, many, many caught up in the so called "war on drugs" and locked away for long periods of time and at the mercy of these parasitic disaster capitalistic companies who pray on people's downfalls.

I suggest to everyone who has a loved one incarcerated who is being assaulted financially by these prison phone companies to be creative and look for ways around the greed. Get a number close to the facility the inmate is calling from and send checks or money orders. Don't utilize the high fees if possible. GTL exists to make huge profits off of human disaster and failure.

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#3 General Comment

gtl

AUTHOR: Pamela - (U.S.A.)

I support a juvenile inmate at Walnut Grove Juvenile prison in Mississippi. The facility switched from IC Solutions to GTL recently. Yes, it is a rip-off. If you put $50 dollars on the phone the inmate only gets $40 talk time after the 19% fee. IC Solutions waived the $5.95 fee if you put $50 prepaid funds which was generous by GTL standards. 

GTL has the option of mailing a check or money order which there is no fee but it takes 7-10 business days. I plan ahead and mail the check just to avoid the 19% rip off fee. It's worth it.

GTL's fees servicing Walnut Grove CF:

Local: flat rate of $2.85 if the number is in the same county or local area as the facility (generally a prefix in the county the facility is in). 

Local Extended (couple counties from the facility): $2.50 connection fee/.21 cents per minute, plus tax (.47). A twenty minute call costs $7.44 (which is what I'm currently paying).

In-State: $2.41 connection fee/.25 cents minute plus tax .

Out-of-State $3.95 connection fee/.89 cents per minute, plus tax.

The automated message only tells you there is a fee to add money to the prepaid account, but does not tell you it is 19% and comes out of the prepaid money.

The customer billing department can't tell you ahead of time where the number the inmate is calling to falls within their geographical range/fee scheme. To find out out the charge the inmate has to at least attempt to make a call to the number. At that time by pressing a certain key on the phone you hear the charge/rates or by calling GTL after the call. But, interestingly, no one in the company can tell you ahead of time what the fees will be based on the phone number. The inmate has to use it first. Weird.

My solution has been to get a cell number in the same prefix (not just same area code) as the facility. Some area code ranges are very big so you need to get the same prefix to get the flat rate. There are different ways to do that. Warning, a customer service person with GTL tried to tell me as of Jan 2, 2010 the company will be billing by tracking the ping from the cell tower the number bounces off of. I was skeptical of that and discovered upon researching, it was a flat out lie. Pings are part of private phone records. Even law enforcement has to subpoena these records. Therefore don't be fooled by GTL's scare tactics scaring folks who try to find a way around this corrupt, greedy company that makes it's living gouging families and friends who can least afford it and who are not incarcerated. Even though a person is locked up in this country (2.5 million plus Americans) they are still human beings, many, many caught up in the so called "war on drugs" and locked away for long periods of time and at the mercy of these parasitic disaster capitalistic companies who pray on people's downfalls.

I suggest to everyone who has a loved one incarcerated who is being assaulted financially by these prison phone companies to be creative and look for ways around the greed. Get a number close to the facility the inmate is calling from and send checks or money orders. Don't utilize the high fees if possible. GTL exists to make huge profits off of human disaster and failure.

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#4 Consumer Comment

Agreed

AUTHOR: Tim - (U.S.A.)

I concur. I'm pretty sure different companies are used across the country, but this seems to be the standard. I know down at the local clink, a call costs $15, and this gets you a max of fifteen minutes.


I understand that there may not be a whole lot of sympathy out there, due to the fact that we are dealing with inmates. But the bottom line is that there is at least one company that is SEVERELY taking advantage of people. And it's not the inmates that are suffering this financial hardship: it's their families and loved ones on the outside.


I'm sorry to hear that this is causing you such financial trouble, and I'm especially sorry to hear of the woman who hasn't been able to speak with her son for over ten years because of this.


I would most certainly file a complaint with your state's attorney general's office. I'm not sure if this will get you very far, but it's worth a shot.


God bless!

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