Beware!

So, the other day I turned on my cell phone (I only turn it on when I’m going to call someone or when I’m driving, in case there is an emergency) and I saw that I had a bunch of text messages. This was odd, since I don’t send text messages and only get them if Verizon has some dumb new thing they want me to buy from them.

So, I pull them up and they are from this company . Joke a day, text messages? Are you kidding? I erased them all and went about my business, only to get another a few seconds later. Annoyed. I went to the Verizon website to see if I could block these suckers and couldn’t figure it out. So I called the 800 number.

While I was waiting, I decided to check my account details and lo and behold what do I see? A charge for $10 for a text message. So, when I get on the phone with the rep at Verizon, I find out that they can’t reverse the charges because I’ve subscribed to some service.

Of course this is bullshit, since I don’t subscribe to crap like this and I NEVER give my cell phone to companies, much less one like this. The Verizon rep gives the company’s 800 number where I finally get through to a rep who explains that I subscribed to a service. I explain to her that I didn’t subscribe to any such thing and I want my money back. She explains that the number I’ve called is the parent company and the company that charged me is a sister company, but they no longer exist. What? But she’ll give me another 800 number to call to see if I can cancel my subscription.

I lose it and tell her once again I didn’t subscribe and that I shouldn’t have to chase down phantom companies to give back money they had no right to take. Bottom line, she won’t help me, so I give her a good dose of insults and hang up.

I called Verizon back and explained the situation to yet another Verizon rep and she was very helpful and explained that somehow someone had gotten my number and the company debited my phone, just like a merchant would from an atm card and that the company had to give it back. She tracked down the number and gave me the website. I tried the phone and I couldn’t even hear the recording so I went to the website and filled out a form demanding my money back.

I have little hope that they will do the right thing and return my money. And writing the complaint to them did little to relieve my angst and writing this post probably won’t do much for it either – but at least you can be warned about them.

Also, the Verizon rep told me another thing that really freaked me out. Though i had them block text messages on my account, she said when it comes to premium text messages that the blocking is useless. They can still do it. So, it seems my choice is to chuck this phone and get another one. It’s a shame but in the end I may have to do it.

What I can’t figure out though is how they got my cell number. Literally, only about 10 people have it. I can’t imagine any of them giving it to something like this or doing this as some sort of practical joke – not funny.

I’m telling you there is no justice in the world. I know I’m out of luck and if I get any sort of response it will be bull and they will not give me my money back because that’s how this sort of company works. It’s not even the money so much as the violation of privacy. I feel like somebody sneaked into my house and took something from me without my consent. It sucks.

So, there you have it. Another good reason to not text – aside from carpal tunnel thumbs and losing the ability to spell properly.

WC

19 thoughts on “Beware!

  1. The only thing you need to do is call the company up, act all flustered and say, “Ohmigod, if I don’t get my money back, I’m going to kill myself.” Unless they’re huge jackasses, they’ll do whatever they can to make you not commit suicide.

    ***IMPORTANT***If you do this, remember that you don’t actually have to kill yourself.

    I already tried that and since they got my money, they don’t really give a shit. Good idea though. πŸ˜‰
    WC

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  2. Wow. Another form of identity theft, so it seems. Scary stuff, I tell ya. Had it done to me, but in another form ..
    I hope you get your money back, get everything squared away, and that the company and their text messages leave you alone.

    Hey Red,
    You have to wonder, how many thousands of people it happens to. In the greater scheme of things, ten bucks is no big deal but you multiply it by thousands and you’re talking about a lot of dough. I can only hope they reap the karma they deserve.
    WC

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  3. Your experiences are typical with most companies today – either too big or too distant to give a damn about individual customers.
    The worst face of today’s version of capitalism.

    Hey Anthony,
    True enough but little comfort, eh?
    WC

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  4. I had a similar situation Chick I just sent a reply text message to the Joke you got and told them unsubscribe the number and never got another one

    Hey Ger,
    Even if I wanted to I can’t because I had text calls blocked. I’ve decided I’ll just get a different phone/service. It’s a prepay and god knows there are plenty of them out there, so I guess Verizon and the joke people can just screw themselves.
    WC

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  5. However you look at it, it’s theft.

    They should give you an option to block premium texts. Of course, the problem is that your phone company are getting their share of the premium rate. You’d have thought that there would be some kind of check (like you must subscribe with a call from your phone), but I bet you can subscribe to these things and give any number. Probably someone did and got a digit wrong – since they’d have to be drunk or insane to want to anyway, this would seem likely…

    Hi Brian,
    That’s interesting, from what the Verizon rep told me they don’t get any of that money but I’m sure they aren’t above lying, eh?

    You’re probably right, some drunk kid punched in the wrong number and I’m out the money. It bites, eh?
    WC

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  6. Hi WC,

    You made two serious mistake in dealing with this problem. First, you don’t recognize the health benefits that having the occasional opportunity to scream at some middle management twit provides. Second, you failed to hold Verizon culpable.

    The algorithm I have developed for dealing with these people goes something like this:

    0. keep a pad and pen on hand and record everyone’s name and identification number. Insist that the person on the phone repeat it until you have it written down correctly.

    1. be nice to the initial contact person, pretending to be a bit helpless and naive.

    2. if they are not helpful, get progressively agitated while repeating your initial request for assistance.

    3. if they still refuse to solve your problem, insist on speaking to their supervisor. If they refuse, mention that you have their name and ID number and will report this information when you call back. Also mention that you have a great deal of free time, are bored, and will be most happy to make this your reason for living.

    4. this should put you in touch with middle management, and their performance is judged on how many problems get past them. Use this to your full advantage like in a martial art. Remembering that the money in dispute isn’t theirs, and their job, or annual bonus, is on the line. A bit of anger is appropriate here and, if you can deliver the emotive content, some sadness at having a trusted service provider turn on you like this. If you can work in a mention of how often you write letters to the editor, your congressional representatives, and some of the consumer rating magazines about crap companies it won’t hurt.

    At this point they should resolve your problem and offer an apology. However, if you are evil, which I am, it is possible to stretch the point. Mildly angry mention of how much time you have wasted on the phone to resolve such a simple matter, which they have now admitted was their fault, may bring immediate offers of further compensation. If it doesn’t, there is always the option of insisting on speaking to the next level of management.

    If you decide to go to this extreme, keep in mind that you must go all the way. There can be no half measures!

    If the mid-level on the phone hesitates, or gets testy, start by reminding him/her that you know their name and are quite willing to call back at another time to lodge a complaint against them. Point out that, since you are self employed, you can call at all times of the day, and that you also have plenty of time to contact the company via snail mail. If there is a convincing moment during the conversation where you can mention not being able to afford your mood stabilizing drugs in recent weeks, go for it.

    This should, most likely, get you connected to an upper level of management. At this point, the person on the other end of the connection will have three goals:

    1. ending this problem with minimum fuss.
    2. not allowing the problem to pass to the next level
    3. making a good showing out of a difficult situation.

    The goals of your opponent can be used against him/her, but, at this point you should have a general idea of what it will take to buy you off. Start off in an angry mood. Let yourself be talked down, gradually, to a calm enough state to discuss terms.

    At this point, there are two general paths. You may get an offer. Since this will not be the best they are willing to do, turn it down, nicely. A bit of “I’m not sure” and “maybe I should seek counsel” is appropriate here, but not too heavy. The point is to let them make a better offer. For first time bullies, I’d say stop here and take the second bid.

    On the other hand, the response may be something like, “what do you feel will make this right.” This is a sign that you are dealing with a competent opponent, and that you should use caution. At this point it is appropriate to mention what you have already decided it will take to satisfy you. Whether you get it or not, you at lest have the satisfaction of knowing that your complaint has cost the company several times more than the $10 WC started with πŸ™‚

    the Grit

    Hey Grit,
    Thanks for the laugh. And if it were a bigger problem, I might devote the time to this scenario – but I’m done with it. Likely, I’ll just close my prepay account with Verizon and get a different prepay. Not that any of the other companies are any better, but they will lose my business. Which works for me.

    WC

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  7. And they wonder why people all of a sudden go postal. . .
    We definitely all have a beef or three with these cellular choads.
    They tried to whack me with a 275$ media charge {internet}
    It took a month to straighten the damn thing out.
    Incredible.
    Hope your situation straightens itself out.
    Hang in there

    ~m

    Criminy! $275? What the heck were they charging you for, one of those dating hot line? πŸ˜‰ I think I would have gone postal with something like that.
    WC

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  8. Can’t these a**holes just leave us regular folk alone!!! So many fraudulant jerks, lazy pieces of sh*t are out there ruining our lives so that they can get rich off of the hard working average Joe….

    Feeling your fustration and hoping it NEVER happens to me!

    Hey Lucid,
    You pretty much said it all and quite succinctly I might add. πŸ˜‰
    WC

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  9. Oh that just sucks. Here in Oz they sucker all the teenyboppers in with the cool ringtones and pics….all under a subscription service, by ordering one you agree to receive a certain number of them a week at some stupid price. Only way you can stop it is to send another text saying stop, and that costs you too!
    One word sums em all up:
    BASTARDS
    Hope you get some sort of satisfaction, but I dont like your chances….
    Cheers, Kelly

    Yeah, I know this stuff drives me up the wall. Clearly, none of us are immune. Dang it.
    WC

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  10. That they got your number in the first place is very troubling, WC. The only thing I can think of is that they must have got it from Verizon or some company which has it, or some market research outfit. It’s the kind of thing that shouldn’t happen, but does… if it happened to me, I’d probably snap like Michael Douglas in Falling Down. πŸ˜‰

    Actually, that’s one thing which worries me about Facebook. So many people have their mobile and contact details listed in Facebook; you can have a private profile, but no site is completely secure. I think we’ll see a lot more of it if people keep doing that.

    Hey CJ,
    Outside of Verizon, there is no company that would have the number. Seriously, I don’t give the number out. In fact, I don’t even know the number, I have to look it up just to log on to up my minutes. So, if it was any company it would have to be Verizon.

    I never publish phone numbers or anything like that on any online site. I think that’s just asking for trouble.

    WC

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  11. My blog is now available via text message for only $9.99 per post, one year subscription. I signed you up.

    Hope you don’t mind… πŸ˜‰

    LOL – in your case I’ll make an exception. πŸ˜†
    WC

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  12. that is totally f’ed up! stealing bastards. let me at ’em!

    Well, I got an email from them today. They said they are sending me a refund check. We’ll see if it really happens.
    WC

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  13. I just left Verizon and from what I went through to get a new phone with a new company…it’s all the same money pit and scam.

    I know what you mean, you’d think you were trying to get FBI clearance to open a disco in Saudi Arabia or something. Jeez.
    WC

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  14. And is it any wonder cell phone companies are the most complained-about companies in the world? They’ve got us by the balls! I have to manage a cell phone account with 23 phones on it and do you think Sprint has any sympathy for me? No, they do not! I’ve blocked all the phones from text messaging . Me? I couldn’t send a text message if my life depended on it but I know it’s all the rage out there with the young folks. Good luck, although I have little faith in stupid cell phone companies to do the right thing.

    Hey karen,
    I think I’d lose my mind if I had to keep track of 23 cell phones. Cripes, you have my deepest respect and awe & wonder. Yeah the cell phone companies suck, like many modern companies today. I did hear back from the joke company and they say they are sending me a refund – guess we’ll see.

    WC

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  15. I would totally love to just get rid of my cell phone. But every time I forget it at home, I feel naked. It’s like a drug.

    I know what you mean Lass. Even though I barely use the dang thing, if I find I’ve forgotten it I get a little nervous. What if I need it? What if I get stuck? And blah blah goes the head. LOL – I think we all need a 2 week crash course in survivalism. πŸ˜‰
    WC

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  16. When I’m making a complaint I do it in writing and it works everytime. I’m really surprised they offered a refund. Good work girlie!

    Peace, love and down with cell phones!

    I agree that putting things in writing often works much better. Although, I’ve noticed a trend of late – that they don’t usually give you an address for contact, it’s either an online form, an email address or a toll free number. I wonder if that is intentional? πŸ˜‰
    WC

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  17. The whole situation sounds insane. I hope they do send you a refund. I wonder if you could complain to the Better Business Bureau or get some other agency involved? It just seems so wrong that they are claiming you subscribed to something that you didn’t, actually. If they don’t require us to have some kind of proof that we’re the account holders when “we” sign up for things, they’re wide open for fraud.

    Eh, sounds like you’re done with it at this point!

    Hey Deb,
    Yeah it is insane and a little unnerving. More than anything was the idea that someone had my cell number freaked me out some, given that I”m so protective of the number and all.

    If there was more money/damage invovled I’d probably pursue it further but yeah, at this point I”m done with it.

    WC

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