Category Archives: Telephone

Verizon Wireless Customer Refund

According to the AP – Verizon Wireless could pay out up to $90 million in refunds to cell phone customers who were improperly charged for inadvertent Web access or data usage over the past several years.

The FCC had asked Verizon Wireless last year about $1.99 a megabyte data access fees that appeared on the bills of customers who didn’t have data plans but who accidentally initiated data or Web access by pressing a button on their phones.

In a statement on its website Sunday, Verizon Wireless said most of the 15 million customers affected will receive credits of $2 to $6 on their October or November bills. Some will receive larger sums. Customers no longer with the New York-based carrier will get refund checks.

Verizon has said that it stopped charging such fees when a customer started using a data service but then quickly shut it off.

Watch your cell phone bill go up

Everyone might be happy to hear that all the large cell phone companies are lower the prices of their unlimited voice plans to about $60 a month but that is not what you need to worry about. Although your voice plan might be going down, cell phone providers are secretly higher your data plans.

It began with Verizon Wireless. Last month, that company began requiring certain non-smartphone customers to subscribe to a data plan that costs at least $10 per month. Verizon’s move marks the first step in a larger trend to make up for carriers’ lost revenue from voice.

Accordingly to CNN, Smartphone owners are used to paying for an unlimited data plan with T-Mobile, Verizon and AT&T customers doling out the most: roughly $30 per month. Sprint offers a slightly different service, but also requires smartphone users to subscribe to an unlimited plan.

But non-smartphone customers aren’t used to high-priced data plans. Less expensive, limited data plans have been largely available but not widely adopted. Verizon said it began to require new customers who purchase so-called “3G multimedia” phones to subscribe to a data plan in part so that they could get the full functionality out of their phones.

Previously, Verizon offered non-smartphone customers two data plans: $10 for up to 25 megabytes or $20 for up to 75 megabytes. In January, Verizon eliminated the $20 plan and replaced it with a $30 unlimited plan that was previously available only to smartphone users.

3G multimedia phones include a wide array of phones, ranging from the LG enV Touch, which has a touch screen and a QWERTY keyboard, to the Motorola Entice, essentially a standard flip phone that can access the mobile Web.

Other carrier will follow suit. So watch your cell phone bills carefully because those data plan cost could bit you in the rear end.

AT&T Mobile Investment

AT&T announced that it will invest $19 billion to build out its mobile network in 2010 to keep up with growing demand for its Iphone and other 3g devices and phones.

Specifically, AT&T will add 2,000 new cell sites and upgrade existing cell sites with three times more fiber links than it had in 2009. This will increase capacity for the network that connects the cell towers to AT&T’s main network. The backbone portion of the network is a critical component to AT&T’s network; with these upgrades in place – it will help AT&T to easily upgrade in the future to 4G wireless technology.

AT&T IPhone Complaint App

AT&T announced that it has release an new application called “Mark The Spot” which will let iPhone user submit complaints about dropped calls, poor service coverage, and less-than-perfect voice quality.

The application is free and available in iTunes. The “Mark the Spot” application can be downloaded onto all iPhones running version 3.0 or later of Apple’s operating system or it can be access using iTunes and synchronized to the iPhone via a PC or Mac.

AT&T said that they plan to use the data collected to identify trends and prioritize the company’s network investment.

iPhone owners have been complaining about AT&T’s network since the Apple iPhone went on sale in the summer of 2007. Complaints mounted after the 3G version of the phone was released a year later in 2008.

And as more iPhone users come onto the network, more people, particularly in densely populated urban areas, such as New York City and San Francisco, have experienced problems with dropped calls and congested data networks.

AT&T has been upgrading its network to keep up with demand. But problems persist. And AT&T’s network recently got a poor ranking in terms of customer satisfaction in a Consumer Reports survey.

Federal Trade Commission

Telephone companies are regulated by the Federal Trade Commission (FCC). So if you have a telephone bill or a cell phone bill that you can’t get resolved with your carrier, consider filing a complaint with the FCC.

It may not seem like a big deal but filing a complaint with the FCC can have a huge impact. It onlys the FCC to spot company wide problems and help you resolve your issue. Telephone companies hate seeing unresolved complaints filed with the FCC. The FCC will contact them and make them explain what happened and why the matter was not resolved.

As more and more people join in this practice, the power in numbers takes over. Believe it or not the system can work for you.

Collect Calls

Collect calls from a pay phone could cost you a fortune. In today’s time, it hard to imagine anyone without a cell phone. However, there could be a time when your cell phone battery runs out and you need to make an emergency collect call.

One day, a Northridge lady was running late at her hair salon. Her cellphone had died. So she made a collect call to her home, from a pay phone, about 3 miles from home. She had no choice because the pay phone ate up her quarters. So she dialed zero and the operator came on to assist her make her collect call.

When her husband received the call, he immediately accepted the collect call request knowing it was his wife. The call lasted roughly three minutes. Then when the AT&T bill arrived, it included a charge for $45.09 from something called NCIC. NCIC is the Network Communication International Corp., a Texas company that says its the largest private held provide of collect call services for pay phones, prisons, hospitals and hotels.

According to the phone bill, NCIC charged her $37.40 for the brief, in-the-neighborhood collect call, $4.74 in regulatory fees and taxes, and an extra $2.95 just for the hell of it (the bill calls this NCIC’s “billing cost recovery fee”).

The couple were appalled when they saw the $45 charge. But is it legal?

The answer, unfortunately, is yes.

“Pay phones are largely unregulated,” said Rosemary Kimball, a spokeswoman for the Federal Communications Commission. “They were deregulated in 1996.”

An NCIC customer-service supervisor said the call consisted of a nearly $25 “connection charge” and a rate of about $2.50 per minute.

NCIC provides collect-call services on behalf of whoever owns a particular pay phone and typically kicks back more than half the proceeds to the owner. It’s thus in both NCIC’s and the phone owner’s interest for the charge to be as high as possible.

In this case, our victim called NCIC and when she complained about being charged $45 for a local call, the service representative immediately dropped about $20 from the total.


The Federal Communications Commission said that AT&T will pay $500,000 to settle charges that it erroneously billed customers and non-customers a $3.95 monthly recurring fee in 2004.

After agreeing to pay the fine, AT&T announced that it was taking steps to address the billing problems.

It is clear now more than ever that we have to review our telephone and call phone bills very careful. We have to scrutinize every detail and service that we are being charged for to make sure they are correct.

Class Action Charges AT&T

A California company filed a lawsuit charging that it and other telephone customer were unlawfully billed by AT&T through long-distance charges added to their local phone bills.

People who are not AT&T customer are discovering that they are being repeatedly assessed AT&T long-distance charges through their local phone by BellSouth, the company charged.

The problem was not confined to California. The Florida Attorney General issued a consumer advisory warning telephone customers that AT&T long distance charges were improperly being added to local phone bills.

According to one person, who tried to closed their account with AT&T, AT&T continued to billed on their closed account anyways. They tried to clear this up for 8 months but AT&T continued to billed them.

Part of the problem is with AT&T’s automated system that prevents callers from speaking with a live customer service representative and obstructing consumers from receiving refunds for the improper long distance charges.

The class action lawsuit was filed on August 15, 2003 and asserts claims against AT&T for unlawful, unfair or fraudulent business practices in violation of the California Unfair Competition Law, for unjust enrichment, and for money had and received.

According to the complaint, AT&T unlawfully bills some consumers who are not AT&T customers through their local phone bills, and AT&T’s computerized billing system continues to assess charges on phone lines not subscribed to AT&T long-distance service even though AT&T’s own records indicate that there is no AT&T call activity on the phone lines or that AT&T does not provide service to such lines.

Cellphone Usuage Data

Accordingly to the CTIA, an organziation that represents the wireless industry, based on data compiled in the last 6 months:

  • The average cell phone bill in June 2009 was $49.57, up more than a buck from June 2008;
  • The average length of a voice call was just 2.03 minutes, shorter than any other year since the CTIA started keeping records in 1988;
  • There are about 276,610,580 wireless subscribers in the U.S., up about 14 million from last year, and more than double the number in 2002;
  • The various wireless carriers (or at least the ones who reported figures to the CTIA) raked in $151.2 billion in revenue from June 2009 to June 2008

US Businesses Are Overcharged

Even though most companies would list the phone bill as one of their top expenses, few take the time to have someone look over the bill for errors. A study found that 80 percent of U.S. businesses have errors on their phone bills that are never found or reported.

The problem comes from the long-standing system phone companies use to track their services and billing. The system is split into two sections: The section that keeps track of what services a customer has, and the section that bills the customers. “The process itself is inherently faulty,” says professional Frank Stoczko. “It’s quite often the case that there’s faulty entry between the two systems, which results in faulty billing.” Stoczko says a customer may get a feature (such as caller ID) and then cancel it, but the phone company may only cancel it from the service section of the billing system. Then, customers are being charged for a service they no longer have.

According to Stoczko, billing errors have been occurring since the dawn of telecommunications, and certain phone providers can be almost relied on to make trademark mistakes. “As soon as I see who the telephone company [on the bill] is, I look for those specific things, because, invariably, those kinds of errors are repetitive; they happen quite often,” he said.

Without actually stating that phone companies make these erroneous charges on purpose, Stoczko does point out that it is in the phone companies’ interest to allow these mistakes to be made. ” [Telecoms] will just let mistakes go and wait for clients to come back and ask for a refund for that money,” he said. “They will pay them that money, while the other customers’ [overcharges] will just be pocketed.”

However, some of the phone companies overcharge through legitimate services that are not really necessary. One such service is an insurance premium for in-house wiring that some companies charge a flat fee for (maybe $4 or $5 a month). Stoczko says it is a good idea to get rid of services like this, because it is a service that probably won’t ever see use. “[Consumers] pay for the insurance for the entire time they have telephone service