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Saturday, April 04, 2009

Retro Housewife Survival Guide - Read Your Bills

Eat Your Vegetables. Read Your Bills. It's good for you. The monthly paper avalanche or online spam-fest that are you monthly bills need your attention. This causes me endless aggravation and will probably give me an ulcer, but I force myself to do it these days because it saves me money. How? I see things. Bad things, wrong things, I can't believe that is still showing up on my bill things.

Example: My arch enemy AT&T - MA Bell, back with a vengeance telephone company up to their usual tricks. We ordered a local service ONLY phone line from them and specifically stated that it was for a residence that sometimes serves as a rental, so we do not want any toll-call capability. No 411, no 900 numbers, nothing.

Last month, I open our bill expecting to see the usual flat rate amount and low and behold, it is about $20 more than it should be! Upon inspection I find two new line items, one for information use, and the other for a new voice mail service. How can this be? I think, as I phone up my friends at AT&T customer service. I explain why I am calling and and become drawn into the sort of dialog that I imagine inspired Franz Kafka to write his novel Der Prozess (The Trial).

Bizarre, illogical and reeking of sinister intent.

So I ask for a manager. The manager patiently explains to me that when we placed our order for the phone line, we did not specify that we did not want it to be hijacked by third party service providers. Really. I swear.

At this point my mind is whirling trying desperately to think of other possible omissions which could come back to haunt me... let me see, I don't want to be upgraded to any more expensive plans, I don't want anybody to climb the telephone pole, tap into our line and use it to call Tokyo, and I really don't want anybody to come to our house and rearrange the furniture (for all I know there could be some free trial offer for AT&T feng shui services that is about to become billable at the rate of $49.95/month)!

45 minutes later I convinced the AT&T manager to remove the charges, but I could hear the reluctance to do so in his voice. I haven't yet worked up the nerve to open this month's AT&T bill, but I will. And when I see new items on my bill that don't belong there, I will call AT&T and argue with them until they are removed. They haven't broken me yet!


Next Time: Fun with AT&T customer service relating to our primary phone line and how we get charged for installation fees when we make a change to our phone service, and how our phone gets disconnected because we refuse to pay installation fees on a line we have had for the past 7 years, and how they remove the installation fees and then include a $25 "reconnection fee" which we are not going to pay which will cause our phone to be disconnected which will.... Tin Can and String anyone?

Update: July 11, 2009: We dumped AT&T and now use SAGE Telecom which is a real alternative to AT&T. So far I am very happy with them. AT&T managed to squeeze another $50 out of us by sending our account to collections. My husband paid the bill which consisted entirely of charges invented by AT&T for our "new" 7-year old telephone service. At least we have them off our back and are rid of them for good. I will now dump them at our cabin and get Sage Telecom as well. I hate AT&T so much! I know I must be careful because if a democratic politician reads this, they will probably try to pass a law which gives AT&T protected status and classify not paying one's AT&T bill as a hate crime. But boy do I hate AT&T. We have them for our cell phone service and I am going to dump them there too. Enjoy that $50.00 you sleazy bunch of crooks, you have rekindled the fighting spirit in me and the intense desire to live 100% AT&T FREE!

I will also compose some more Haiku to express my feelings about AT&T!

Bad AT&T
unlimited evil, you
bad AT&T

I highly encourage others to compose Haiku about their feelings toward AT&T!

Others Who Hate AT&T

  1. Why I hate AT&T
  2. Why I hate AT&T
  3. I HATE AT&T
  4. Do you hate AT&T? If so why/why not?
  5. Things I Hate v.ATT
  6. Why I Hate AT&T
  7. I hate AT&T

Alternatives to AT&T

Local/Long Distance Phone Service/Residential Land Lines

  1. Sage Telecom

Business Phone Service

  1. Small Business Virtual Phone Service //
  2. Try RingCentral Online FREE for 30 days //Ring Central

Wireless Phone Service

  1. Popular Packages at Verizon Wireless //Verizon Wireless


Mrs G said...

I just found out yesterday that a friend of mine no longer has her land line, is not exclusively using her cell phone, because of problems with Bell Canada. She couldn't get them to sort out her bill properly, despite spending hours on the phone with them, so she politely told them to take a hike.

Isn't it sad that we have to be so diligent about things like this. Keep up the good fight!

lovelylissie said...

We are living in a house formly owned by hubby's dad. The phone is in my father-in-law's name. To change it to our name, means disconnecting and paying for a new phone installation. Seems a bit ridiculous to me. Should be as simple as turning the computer, going to account information, and typing in a new name. Where do they come up with these ridiculous charges? Wish you the best of luck with the phone company!