Phone follies finally phased out
Updated: August 8, 2012 3:00PM
Dear Fixer: I’m writing on behalf of my friend and neighbor, who’s had the same telephone number for close to 45 years.
Wanda is 85 years old and doesn’t hear well enough to call the phone company on her own, so I did for her. She’s had AT&T for local calls and MCI for long distance here and overseas.
I called AT&T the first time on June 15 to inquire what their rates would be to have all services through them. Their rep said that for $42 per month, my neighbor could have unlimited local calling, with nationwide and worldwide services for a nominal additional fee. This sounded good, but then the nightmare began.
By June 19, I called again to inquire if the changes had taken place. I got a new rep, who couldn’t find any record of my previous call. She said she would enter everything in and gave me a confirmation number. She gave specific costs per minute for Italy, Croatia, Poland, Australia and Brazil, where Wanda calls her friends and relatives.
My neighbor got two computerized calls but she didn’t know what they said, so I called again on June 23 and spoke with a third rep. He said the changes had not gone through, but he would fix it by 8 p.m. the next day. He gave me a confirmation number.
On June 29, I called again to see what was going on with her account. This time, a supervisor connected me with someone in the “back ends department,” whatever that means (though it didn’t sound good). That man assured me everything would be fixed by 8 p.m. but — you guessed it — nothing was.
Meanwhile, something must have been done by one of the earlier reps, because on that same day, a document arrived in the mail describing all the wrong changes to my neighbor’s account.
Now she has no more caller ID or long-distance service, which she wants. Instead, she has automatic callback and call detail suppression, whatever that is.
I don’t know how to explain to her what call-waiting or speed-dialing is. One time she inadvertently made a three-way call and was charged for 190 minutes of local long distance, which cost $41.
Maybe you can help this poor lady who can’t even call long distance now. God knows what she’s being charged in the meantime.
Dear Ursula: First, we want to say: You are an awesome neighbor! The Fixer could only wish that everyone was as generous as you are, taking on the runaround for a neighbor in need.
You told us that in addition to her hearing issues, your neighbor’s English isn’t perfect. That surely exacerbated this.
We got in touch with AT&T spokeswoman Mollie West and put our heads together. With you again acting as translator, their customer service folks began chipping away at this. It took a couple of weeks and a few glitches, but Mollie stayed with it as they made sure Wanda got the best plan for her needs and won’t get billed for stuff she doesn’t want. Her new monthly rate, including her new international calling plan, will be $33.53 plus taxes and surcharges. You told us her caller ID is now working as she wanted, which is good news. Let us know if she has any more problems with this.
Practically any time we’re online, we see an ad promising a free trial of some fabulous new product. Problem is, the consumer is often the one who feels she’s on trial.
That’s what happened to Dee of Oak Lawn, who was hooked by an ad for a teeth-whitening product. It seemed like a good deal: The sample was free and Dee only had to pay $1.95 for shipping. “You were supposed to be able to try the product and if you were not happy within 10 days, you could cancel your future shipments and membership,” Dee wrote The Fixer.
She provided her debit card and was billed within two days. But those sneaky toothpaste people did something else. They also took out $57.90 for the next shipment before she even received the sample.
Dee tried to get her bank to stop the withdrawal, but they said it couldn’t be reversed because she had given them her information.
“I doubt anything can be done, as their phone numbers are changed or disconnected and their addresses change as well,” Dee wrote. “I’d like to warn others of this scam. They got away with theft and I know I am not the only victim out there.”
I shred, therefore I am
Don’t forget about these upcoming document shredding events:
• Glenview State Bank’s free shredding days: 9 a.m. to noon Aug. 18 at 1808 S. Arlington Heights Rd., Arlington Heights, and 9 a.m. to noon Oct. 6 at 2222 Chestnut Ave., Glenview. Participants may bring up to 25 pounds.
• West Suburban Bank and the Better Business Bureau’s free suburban shredding event: 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sept. 15 at 8001 S. Cass Ave., Darien. Participants may bring up to 10 boxes of documents; electronics recycling is also available.