ESBI has crammed my AT & T telephone bill with a charge of about $15.60. The charge is at the very bottom of my phone bill, and is shown there as being a 'courtesy' billing by AT & T for a 'third party' vendor. This company - ESBI - claims to be billing me for 800VMAILBOX INC service and to call 877-376-6502 with questions. Of course I have questions, the most important being who authorized this service, and how this appeared on my phone bill without my explicit permission or request. When I contact ESBI, rather than the third party vendor, at 888-298-3724, I spoke to one 'Bobby' (would not give me his last name) who told me that it was authorized by a certain Elizabeth Torrelli. He did not know my name or service address but insited on knowing these prior to canceling the account and giving me a refund (which would take 1 to 2 business cycles). He also gave me a cancellation number but would not give me any further information on Ms. Torrelli, claiming that since I wasn't her, I was not authorized to get this info as it would be a breach of her privacy. Does anyone get the irony here? This woman signs up a stranger's (mine) phone number for paid services without the stranger's authorization and ESBI does not bother to verify her identity or authority prior to setting up for these unordered services but they won't share HER information with me because of privacy reasons! Never mind that she committed fraud.
While "Bobby" did claim to have issued me a refund, I have still filed complaints / cramming reports with both the FCC and the California Public Utilities Commission Consumer Affairs. It is interesting to note that ESBI was previously censured by the FTC in 2001 for deceptive business practices but still continues to act with such brazen disregard, ripping consumers off well into 2010.
As for AT & T, they have a duty to protect their customers from such unauthorized charges and if they don't, then they need to have action taken against them too. The way AT & T currently acts - ANYONE can charge you ANY amount through your phone bill and AT & T will insist that you pay these charges regardless of whether these charges are lawful or not. I was told that AT & T cannot help "it" due to a 1990s CA law that permits third parties to bill you through your local company but when it's obvious that a certain third-party is crooked, then they should sow due diligence and protect their customer from such rip-offs. If AT & T does not reverse my charges, then I am disconnecting my land-line, too. Hopefully, they are not hand-in-glove with the thieves, although I must admit that I sometimes don't even understand the phone bill that I get from them (AT & T)