April 02, 2009

A Telephone Bill Scam- Cramming

Until recently cramming was a term that I associated with my time in school. Mention the word and memories of studying all night long for various tests come to mind. Actually there are some pretty good memories tied into cramming, at least there was until today.

That changed because today I found out that I was an unwilling participant in crammingas it relates to your telephone bill.

The FCC offers the following definition:

"Cramming" is the practice of placing unauthorized, misleading, or deceptive charges on your telephone bill. Crammers rely on confusing telephone bills in an attempt to trick consumers into paying for services they did not authorize or receive, or that cost more than the consumer was led to believe."

This morning I noticed a charge of $16.30 on my telephone bill for Enhanced Voicemail Services. It sounded relatively innocuous and I almost paid it, but something about it seemed strange. So I took a moment to review the last three months of telephone bills and discovered that until today it didn't exist.

So I called up Ma Bell and asked her to give me an explanation for why it had suddenly showed up and was told that it wasn't a service provided through them. I had been crammed by a company called Enhanced Services Billing Inc.

Ma Bell explained to me that even though the charge was processed via their bill they could not remove it and that due to some sort of legal chicanery Enhanced Services Billing Inc. was entitled to try and bill me for services I didn't need.

I immediately contacted Enhanced Services Billing Inc. so that I could have the charges removed and spent a solid 35 minutes on hold. Add that stellar customer service to their unauthorized charge and I was entertaining thoughts of waterboarding their entire staff, or at least giving them a good piece of my mind.

The rep who spoke with me must take hundreds of calls like my own. I'll give her credit for doing a good job of calming me down by apologizing while simultaneously taking care of removing the charge. At least, she seemed to be doing that.

I'll still follow up and confirm that the charge was removed and you can be sure that I'll continue to pay attention to all of the line items on future bills. I suggest that you do the same.


SuperRaizy said...

I don't understand how an outside company could get access to your phone company's billing system without their cooperation.

Jack said...

They can. I am certainly not the only one who has dealt with it. There is some sort of loophole that provides for it. But it is a load of crap.

Scotty said...

Please share any such information about scams at
For everyone to benefit from.

Angi said...

This just happened to use this week. I feel completely violated without having even done anything wrong. The loophole protects smaller businesses from getting hosed, but this is mind blowing.

The worst part? They've BEEN fined, but all the fining does is slow them down.

Good luck making sure they don't try this against next month.