KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – This may happen to you – a telemarketer asks whether you want to save money on your phone bill, but there was more to it than that.
One of those calls was made to an East Tennessee woman and she had been told it was AT&T calling, but it wasn’t. She had been slammed.
She shared her story with WATE 6 On Your Side in September, and months later, she keeps getting bills and has not cancelled the service.
She’s paid two bills already and doesn’t want to pay a third.
“Slamming” is the practice of switching a customer’s traditional hardwire telephone company, for local or long-distance service, without permission.
The FCC has slamming rules to protect you from illegal switches, and it provides a remedy if you’ve been slammed.
One of those solutions is calling to cancel the service taht switched you in the first place.
But how to you go about cancelling if you are asked personal questions – the type you may be reluctant to provide?
On doctor’s orders, Vergie has to drink a certain amount of water every day. So faithfully, this 89-year-old great-grandmother measures what she needs and pours the water into jug.
Being a widow and living on a fixed income, she watches her spending. In early October, she received two phone bills — one from TeleCircuit the other from AT&T. It’s the 49-56 TeleCircuit bill that irks her.
“I want them to leave me alone It’s getting on my nerves,” she tells WATE 6 On Your Side.
Since she lives alone, Vergie asked we not reveal her last name or where she lives.
For 60 years, she had been a loyal AT&T customer. But as she told us in September, someone from TeleCircuit called in late August.
“They said they were AT&T, they were switching me to TeleCircuit, that I had been getting big bills and I would not be getting big bills from now on,” she said.
Vergie said the caller told her she would be switched to one of TeleCircuit’s $39.99 monthly offer. Believing it was an AT&T representative on the phone, she agreed to the deal.
Vergie didn’t know it, but she had been “slammed” by the Georgia-based phone company.
In a 20-page notice filed by the FCC against TeleCircuit in April 2018, the company was warned to end the practice. The FCC commissioner said slamming is an issue it wants stopped.
“In other words, companies switch charges on bills and switch services without consumer’s knowledge or consent,” says Ajit Pai, FCC Chairman.
Last week, Vergie said she believed her problem with TeleCircuit was over when she switched back to her original carrier. AT&T returned in early October and reconnected her service. And, she was also issued a new phone number by AT&T.
Nevertheless, she keeps on getting bills from TeleCircuit and called them about it.
“They wanted to know what my new number was. I was not going to give them my new number and I hung up on them,” she said.
On her latest bill, there was a notice to call TeleCircuit regarding her phone service. So we asked her contact the toll free number.
The TeleCircuit representative said he needed her original phone number — which is also her policy ID — and not the new number provided by AT&T. He said to cancel he had to record why she wanted her service to end.
“Disconnect me, I just don’t want nothing else to do with you all. Cancel, today,” she told the representative.
Then she provided even more information, the representative followed her wishes and said he cancelled her service, telling her the phone would be disconnected within 24 to 48 hours.
Here is what to do to cancel a service you no longer want.
First, make sure you talk with the right people and tell them you’re calling to cancel.
Be prepared to explain the reason why you are cancelling.
Remember to be firm, but stay friendly on the phone.
You may be asked some personal questions to confirm, for instance, your name, where you live , your police or account number and the may even ask your age.
Be sure to call them back and double-check on everything.