Friday, March 5, 2010

Third Party Billing - Legal but wrong!

I am very careful with what I sign up for online. But yesterday I got a small postcard from telling me thanks for signing up. If I wish to cancel my service, contact this number. Charges will appear on my local telephone bill! What in the world is this all about?!?!?!

I immediately called the number. I barely even cook hamburger helper or grill chicken so I know that I didn't sign up for a recipe club! I immediately canceled my service that I didn't sign up for and demanded (nicely but firmly) that I be credited this amount. That's now in process.

I was told that they had received my application - meaning they had my phone number, email address and mailing address. When I "signed up" I had agree to be charged $13.42 each month for this service. No way I did that! Then they charged my telephone number account - this is called Third Party Billing.

Today I have called my land line company (BellSouth/ATT) and my cell phone company (Verizon) to make sure this cannot happen again. I also called (a financial expert who specializes in making sure people spend wisely and don't get ripped off.)

Here's the ways to keep this from happening again.
  1. Call your phone company and request that you have a block put on your account for all third party billing charges. 2 phone calls and hopefully this will never happen again. Now if a company wants to charge you for something, they will have to do the old fashioned way - through the mail.
  2. Review all your credit card and phone statements on a regular basis to make sure nothing has sneaked past.
  3. Read your mail. If I had thrown away that postcard I would have been charged $13.42 every month until I happened to notice.
When I sign up for samples and coupons, I am putting my name, address, phone number and email address out there for companies to sell if they so choose. Does this mean I am going to stop signing up for samples and coupons? No way! I love getting them in the mail and that helps me save money for my family. This just means I am going to be even more aware and read the fine print more carefully to make sure they don't plan to sell my name to other companies.


Anonymous said...

CRAZY.. I had been meaning to email you. I had simialar situation. Just changed to at$t home phone.. was watching charges and a voicemail from 3rd party Agora was put on there... after investagating the worker at at&t said agora was a scam from what she could tell.. they were being suied for getting info from people when they sign up for coupons on internet.. well.. a good lesson to remember put a BLOCK on all third party billing on your telephone bill..
Megan L. H-Burg

Norm Miller said...

Thank you so much for this post. We saw the charge show up on our bill. Neither my wife nor I remember signing up. I called the telephone company who told me to call I did that, and while they did cancel service, they would not credit the account because they had our sign up form. They sent me a copy.

First of all, the birthday was wrong. Second of all, our browser history did not show any visits to their web site.

What a scam this company is. They only require that the phone number and address match to bill your account. I yelled at them that if that is all they are going to require, if someone calls up within 30 days of it showing up on their bill, rather then say thank you we will cancel the account, but no credit because we have proof, that they should say "So sorry Mr Miller, we canceled the account and will issue the credit right away."

It's the old scam of sure, we will deal with the angry phone calls from the people who notice, and for the people who don't, or who don't make the effort to push for a credit, then that is where we will make our money.

I mean seriously, I've got all kinds of great cooking sites bookmarked. Many of which already email me tips. They think I or anyone, is going to pay $14 a month for that?

Thanks for letting me vent, and thanks for this post. I am going to do this right away so it doesn't happen again.