• Report: #102297
Complaint Review:


  • Submitted: Thu, August 05, 2004
  • Updated: Thu, August 26, 2004

  • Reported By:Cedar City Utah
Vacaville, California U.S.A.

MCI ripoff Requires advance fee to receive collect calls from prisoner because MCI is not my long distance carrier. Vacaville California

*Consumer Comment: It is illegal to record conversations

*Consumer Suggestion: MCI employee is correct

*REBUTTAL Individual responds: You have a lot to learn about your own company, MCI

*UPDATE Employee: Response to prison calls

*Consumer Comment: Time to Rip them Off

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I live in Utah. My son is in prison at the California Medical Facility (CMF)in Vacaville, California. I have talked with him there for several years.
In the past month MCI has blocked my phone from receiving his collect calls. The message that he hears on the phone states, "That the person you are trying to reach has blocked your incoming call." This is a lie.
The facility does not have a viable phone number for me to contact MCI. The inmates did not receive information to mail to families on how to contact MCI. The facility told me that many inmates are having this problem. MCI has a contract with the state of California for collect phone call services.

An officer at the facility told me that I must contact MCI at (800) 444-3333. This number does not work unless I am a current customer of MCI.
The number at the prison is (707) 448-6841.

It seems illegal that MCI should be able to control these calls just because I don't have MCI as my long distance carrier. I was told by the officer that MCI now requires an "advanced deposit" of me ($75 he thought) so that I can receive collect calls from my son. If I had MCI as my long distance carrier, I would not have to pay this "deposit".

I have checked with my phone company and there is no reason according to them that I should be blocked. My bill is current. The phone number for my local QWest phone company is
(800) 244-1111.

What can be done here?

Cedar City, Utah

This report was posted on Ripoff Report on 08/05/2004 01:55 PM and is a permanent record located here: http://www.ripoffreport.com/reports/mci/vacaville-california/mci-ripoff-requires-advance-fee-to-receive-collect-calls-from-prisoner-because-mci-is-not-102297. 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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Updates & Rebuttals

#1 Consumer Comment

It is illegal to record conversations

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


I use to work for a phone company and ALL phone companies know that it is illegal to record conversations. And they have to let all involved with the conversation know that they are also on the line. So you did Qwest a great injustice by printing that so the public could see it.

As for your number being blocked and the recording stating that it was at your request. If your bill was not paid, then it was at your request. Phone companies only ask for pymt AFTER services are already rendered unlike cable companies etc. Sadly, most people who have friends and relatives incarcerated don't pay their bills so they get blocks put on their lines and then blame the phone company when they can no longer accept the collect calls.

But as for Qwest or any other phone company recording a conversation, that was a total untruth.

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#2 Consumer Suggestion

MCI employee is correct

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

This is in response to Susan, about the number for MCI, that is the right number to call. You can call that number 800/444-3333 from any number and get through. I happen to work for a different telephone company and I call that number all the time when I need help from MCI. And I know my company certainly does not use MCI for long distance.
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#3 REBUTTAL Individual responds

You have a lot to learn about your own company, MCI

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

D-in Iowa City with MCI:
You have a lot to learn about your own company.
as to:
Your point 1: The phone company that is used at my son's prison is in fact MCI, not another company. It has always been MCI since he entered the prison in 1997.

Your Point #2: My son has been at that prison since 1997 and I have received calls weekly from him through MCI and have never been asked for a deposit or to pay directly to MCI before. It comes on my long distance bill each and every month and I have copies of them to prove this if you would like to see them.

Your Point #3: No, not all companies charge a deposit The Utah State Prison facilities use QWest as their carrier. Because I am a retired Utah State Prison guard, (this can be verified with documentation if you wish),I have access to and a working knowledge of how QWest opperates withing the Utah State Prison System. QWest does not charge a deposit.

Point #4: I would like you to personally try the phone number that I listed to contact MCI in my previous e-mail from a non-MCI phone and see how well you get through. Before I contacted this rip-off report system, I had 2 different QWest Customer Service Representatives try it on my behalf. Neither of them could get through and had the exact same problem that I had in trying.

When my wonderful QWest Customer Service Rep finally got through to MCI and we talked to two different people (which we could hardly understand because they are located in a foreign country) we finally got to a 3rd person by the name of Mr. George. He stated to the QWest Rep and myself that it was QWest that requested that this block be put on. My QWest representative, who had been recording these conversations spoke up and told him that we were being recorded and he immediately back peddaled his statement when she said that she could prove that QWest had not initiated the block.

I have since suddenly been reunited by phone with my son and have not been asked to pay any deposit.

So, I think that before you next respond to this letter, you might want to get all of your fact straight as to my specific case.
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#4 UPDATE Employee

Response to prison calls

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

I work for MCI in their escalation department. Certain people don't understand how those prison calls work.

1. All prisons have different phone companies who service their lines.

2. Which ever company does, and if you don't have them for service, you have to set up an acct to be billed for those calls.

3. All phone companies charge deposits for these calls due to them not being a regular rate. It's to insure they get paid

About you not being able to use a number that goes to mci because you're not an mci customer is not true. It doesn't matter if you are with the company or not you can still call that company with their number provided. If you want to speak to customer service you can call 866-624-5622. That is the number into customer service. Having mci service does insure that all the prisons that we service are unblocked since you are billed directly from mci on your normal bill. Without you being an mci customer we have to have a "net" just incase you don't pay. You can thank all those people that haven't paid their bills as the reason you have to pay a deposit.

Susan, if you have any problems that I can help you with, I would be happy to do so. Please don't feel that everyone at MCI doesn't want to help you. Please let me know if there is anything that I can help you with and I'll stay on top of it until its taken care of.

As for Kathleen, we don't issue credit to customers for calls they made before they decided to come to mci for service. As for your bill, it's your credit rating.
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#5 Consumer Comment

Time to Rip them Off

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

MCI did the same thing to me yet when the calls were allowed to come through they wanted $75.00 per call!! Thats ridiculous considering prisoners are only allowed 8 minutes and then it will kill the phone line.

So, I did what they wanted, I joined their family connection plan and got the unlimited long dist. and local for 49.99.

When I got my bill in the mail they wouldn't give me credit for the 225. I had already given them so I took it my way. If you don't pay the bill, I can't help it takes them 5 months before they will shut off the phone. I actually had time to switch back to qwest before they could shut down the line. Now there is nothing they can do and boy they hate me for that one but oh well!!
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