Lenoir City couple discovers bogus charges on phone bill a common problem

Lenoir City couple discovers bogus charges on phone bill a common problem

Walt and Carol Smith tell 6 On Your Side reporter Don Dare they discovered an extra fee for voice message service on their phone bill. Walt and Carol Smith tell 6 On Your Side reporter Don Dare they discovered an extra fee for voice message service on their phone bill.

May 9, 2007

By DON DARE
6 On Your Side Reporter

LENOIR CITY (WATE) -- An extra $10 added to a phone bill caught the attention of a Lenoir City couple.

Walt and Carol Smith found the extra charge was a voice message fee.

When they contacted 6 On Your Side, we found out a company called Operator Assistance Network (OAN) Services has been billing people across the county for services they didn't order.

The bogus charges from OAN have been attached to Verizon, Sprint, and AT&T bills, just to name a few.

"We have voice mail service, which we've had for a long time," Walt said. 

The Smiths pay $5.00 a month extra for voice mail. The service has been part of their monthly AT&T bill for five years.

But this month they noticed a unusual $9.95 charge.

"I know how much my phone bill is because we rarely make a long distance call," Carol said. 

"They define it as a set up charge for voice message service," Walt added.

The extra fee came from OAN in California.

Walt first called his provider about the charge.

"AT&T told me that was the only way to get them off my bill was for these people, OAN, to issue a credit," he said.

On their bill, the couple discovered OAN's toll free number, so they called.

"And I said I did not order any service from OAN," Walt said.

"And I am deducting this add-on service in the amount of $9.15," Carol said as she read from a letter she sent the company informing them they're not paying the fee.

"We see no reason to pay another company for the same service," she added.

On the consumer Web site Ripoffreport.com, people from California to Florida, from Maine to Tennessee, have lodged complaints about unauthorized billings from OAN.

The descriptions are about same as what the Smiths experienced.

Walt says he got through to OAN after calling the 1-800 number. "I said it's for a service I did not order. That's what you have to tell them to get any help at all. You have to be clear that you did not order the service."

"If we hadn't canceled this, this would be a monthly add-on every month," Carol added.

Bogus phone charges for a service you didn't order can be removed from your bill. As Walt discovered, you have to call the company yourself, talk to customer service, and tell them emphatically that you did not order the service.

Tennessee Regulatory Authority investigators are interested in hearing about your complaints. Call them at 1-800-342-8359.

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