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Bogus Phone Charges - Cramming and Slamming


SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer
Jun 28, 1999
Shippensburg, PA 17257 USA
When I opened our phone bill this month, it was five times the normal amount.

In checking out the bill, we now have three long distance companies and two internet companies billing us through Sprint. Didn't realize that our business was going that well!

When I called Sprint, they said they are having an unusually high amount of slamming (unauthorized charges) on bills lately. In their explanation, they said that since they are a monopoly in our state, if a company comes to them and says that we have our internet service thru XYZ.com that they have to bill us, same with long distance service. Don't know if this is true but it was their explanation. They also told us to be careful of the following:

Telemarketers calls:
Me: Blue Mountain Gallery
TM: Is this Blue Mountain Gallery
Me: yes

The 'yes' is recorded and put in their records (in the proper place) as your authorization to change your long distance service or accept their internet service or whatever. We actually have had several calls that opened like that in recent memory.

So be careful of your response to an innocent question. My response is now just to repeat "This is Blue Mountain Gallery". Be careful not to say yes to any questions. Then when I realize that it is a telemarketer and not a customer, I carefully (or not) replace the phone in the cradle.

Another scam to watch. Thought I'd pass it on and perhaps it would save you three hours of trying to get your phone bill straightened out.
Wow. I hope they were able to take the charges off. This happened to me at home. You can usually request a "PIC FREEZE", so no one can change your ld or local providers without more detailed authorization. It basically blocks outside companies from modifying your account without your explicit written or verbal approval, through your local bell (Sprint).

The phone company will flag your account for free, at your request.

One effective way to get rid of those annoying long distance and local service telemarketers is to tell them "I just signed a 5 year CONTRACT with my local company". They'll realize no opportunity to make a sale and won't be able to get off the phone fast enough. It works
Mike 's advise is correct .Except I was advised by BellSouth that even the Freeze doesn't guaranteee that you won't be "SLAMMED" .Their reasoning is that all that is needed is a code to undo the Freeze and it can easily be faked even though you may have made a signed agreementto not allow anyother changes.
Still more annoying is those "we will give you a free website" offers that say they will only be for a trial period and then they will be stopped. If you don't formally request them to discontinue the FREE period it can and will continue till you do. The big problem is they are often listed on your bill as just "OTHER PROVIDERS" or something similar and you have no idea who is submitting the charge. I answer all these offers with "I don't want any extra charges "and I am usually thanked and hung up on.
So be very carefill and ALWAYS question any extra charges ypor PHONE BILL you don't understand . You may be being chrged for sevices you didn't even know were there.
I made one simple telephone inquiry about DSL service from SBC but went no further. Soon comes along a package of hardware, then billing on the statement for two months plus install.

I didn't authorize it in any way. How do these people think that would work?? sheesh Took two hours on the phone to resolve. sheesh, again
We have our home phone listed on our state's no call list but they don't allow you to list your business phone on either the state list or the national list. I'm not sure why. Getting telemarketer calls at our business is a huge waste of time!

I usually tell them when they call that all decisions on phone service have to be reviewed by our company's budget committee and that I'll need a written proposal to submit to them. Usually gets them to hang up quickly. They don't know that I'm the only person on the committee! :D
When I was younger my father used to handle solicitation calls like this:

What company did you say you were calling from?
Thank you. I have noted it. I make a point of never using the services of a company that calls me ......

I used to think it was harsh, but now find myself using that line from time to time.

Yes, Mike - they told me to take a credit for the charges on the bill. They would notify the companies. What I truely resent is the three plus hours the whole mess took me to resolve.
Had this happen to me the other day for the second time in as many years. It only took me about an hour to get it straightened out and I still won't know that for sure until the next bill comes.

The routine of someone calling to verify address information was the tactic used, with the added smokescreen of the questioner having a very heavy accent.

I really resent the dishonest and predatory tactics used by these companies.

edie the itsnotnicetofooltheframinggoddess goddess
The worst ones are those who sell recycled toner and ink for your printers/copiers. They'll call to "verify your machine model", ask for your name --- then magically you'll get a lifetime supply of these things with your name as the person who authorized it. (sometimes they'll just call with a high pressure sales tactic)

The recycled (laser printer) toner cartridges do NOT work well. They leak and have poor print.


[ 01-12-2005, 04:20 PM: Message edited by: Mike-L@GTP ]
Getting telemarketer calls at our business is a huge waste of time!
Ann, I totally agree. Today, and actually every day this week, I received a call from some company looking to give self-employed people health coverage. Even after I told him I wasn't interested, he STILL attempted to go into his shpeil (sp?), until finally I just slammed the phoen down. What cracked me up about the whole thing was that he said his name was "Jeff Palmer" or somethign like that. Yeah, by way of Nepal!
You can usually request a "PIC FREEZE",
We have a freeze on our line and it works only too well. We recently tried to move all our services from MCI to ATT. It's taken 4 months and about 20 calls, many with both MCI and ATT on the line, and we still aren't moved. Many excuses and finger pointing but we seem stuckj with MCI,
I had a charge from a company called Oan added to our bill last January and again in Dec. from supposedly a collect caller in November. A year ago, the call came from Minn and this last one from Wyo. I paid the first one because I couldn't get an answer and didn't discover it until after the fact. The last one I wrote note to the phone co. and refused payment. So I'll see. The amount is not much, but it wrankles me.
Larry I laughed a bit while reading your reply. Did it ever occur to you that the Freeze Pic works so well for you (in fact too well) because you haven't spent a lot of time and resources finding ways around them?LOL Those telmarketers have and do a great job at it.

I have son who has worked in Telemarketing for Sears and now Citi Bank. I once metioned the service that stopped unidentified callers ( usually incognito telmarketers ) and he also laughed .His job is and was to prevent Telmerketers from doing unscrupulus and often Illegal things. He told me that to get around one form of that all you needed to do is, when it asked for the name of the person making the call was say something like "JOE" and the call would go through. You see we assume that a FULL CORRECT name has to be given when in fact any name will meet the requirements.But this does amount to HARASEMENT and if proven is punishable .The key words here are "IS PROVEN" .Do you have any Idea how many JOES there are ,so how do you prove you caught the right one.
It reminds me of a line from a Houdini Movie I once saw. It said something like "Locks are made to keep HONEST people in Not dishonest out. They will find a way to get around them." Maybe that is why they are alays comming up with a new and bettr ways to prevent PIA calls. If not One method would end it all.
if it ain't one thing, it's your mother in law.

OH! Gosh! was that my outside voice?

I have/had ATT, but we're trying to switch over to Qwest because the rate for DSL and two lines and a $20 cap on long distance will be half what we are now paying for ATT. If they can resolve the dang Pic Freeze. We've had five conversations so far..... mean while the dial up ain't all that bad.....
We find an effective way of dealing with them when they ask to speak to the person in charge of telephone decisions is to put them on hold for a minute. They will usually disconnect in about 10 seconds, because time is money and they wish to spend their time plowing more promising fields.