I recommend my clients audit their monthly telephone bills. Both cell phone and land lines. If you have separate accounts for personal and business telephone services, audit both accounts. Why? Because there often are errors buried in the multiple billing pages, including bogus billing called cramming.
Cramming is getting billed for services you didn’t order or receive. US Senate investigators recently confirmed “cramming” is multi-billion dollar fraud. Review your land-line and mobile phone bills line by line, item by item. Did you make that international or long distance call? It’s important if you are billed for individual long distance calls.
You have no knowledge of the $59.95 or $97.00 charge? Investigate. Look at your calendar to see what you did on the service date, or check your receipts for the month’s charges. No clue why you were billed? Call your telephone company and ask.
Make time to review older bills too. You can get credit for errors made months ago. In my experience, phone bills are the worse, but the lesson is to audit your bills before you pay. You’ll be surprised. I’ve found that when companies know you review your bills, errors tend to decline over time. Coincidental? Maybe, but I’m not feeling that it is.
Handle customer service with care
Keep in mind that customer service staff is not responsible for the errors on your bill. S/he is simply the front line staff paid to deal with you. So be kind and enlist their support.
Think about what you want before dialing:
- You want a full refund credited to your account immediately
- Refund plus an annoyance fee, like a $50 gift card
- Price discount from regular telephone bill,
- Bonus minutes added to your monthly plan at no additional cost to you,
- Your account credited for the value of the mistake
- Cancel your service.
Escalate up until satisfied
If the customer service rep doesn’t (or can’t) give you what you want, ask to speak to her manager (not supervisor). Get to a person who has the authority to say Yes. Most staff can only say no.
I hope you appreciate that the telephone provider thinks you don’t care enough about your own money to audit its billing practices. Get in the habit of reviewing your bills. Start with your August phone bills. Actually read the bill. See what the various pages are itemizing.
One of my Facebook friends commented on this approach:
“I just found a $30 charge on bill after I paid. Came home and asked what it was for and they reversed future charges. I’m going to go back and see about credit. Hey $30 bucks is $30 bucks – thanks Judith for the impetus to speak up!”
It is empowering to negotiate on your own behalf. You asked and got it.
Once you’re familiar with the process, auditing your telephone bill is quick and easy.
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