They call it cramming.
By the time a practice has its own name you would think the cell phone providers would already be doing something about it. I suspect the carriers get to keep some of the ill-gotten gains which explains their decision to let it go on.
My cell phone bill arrived yesterday and included two charges of $9.99 ($19.98 total) that I did not recognize. The game is afoot, Watson.
So this morning I call Verizon to discuss. The rep takes the information and leaves me on hold so he could do some research. He returns with the specifics of who, what, and when these charges occurred. In response he also agreed to:
- Reverse the charges (A one time courtesy by Verizon)
Which I guess means if it happens again I am on my own.
- Add a block to my account for third party billing.
Although nice, it did little to remove the unpleasant taste of spam. (Not spam in a can either.)
I went on express my view that Verizon Wireless is acting as a collection agent on behalf of spammers. He all but agreed with me but also added that their hands are tied. He says that Verizon is bound by regulations of the FCC to add these third party billings when they come in. He confirmed my suspicious that Verizon customer service representatives spend an extraordinary amount of their time fielding these kinds of calls and dealing with customers displeasure with these third-party charges.
I don’t know what the answer is other than to do my part and be very prudent when I see any service asking me for my cell-phone number. The fine print may not even be there. I know I would never have agreed to anything that cost $9.99. It’s not like I ever saw anything that remotely resembled a service that was going to bill me $9.99.
My new motto is… Just Say No to cell phone scams.
Check out this guy’s very detailed Verizon experience with the same thing.
Other Cell-Phone cramming links.
Bottom line for cell phone customers. If you haven’t already added a “billing block” to your account. Pick up the phone and do it now before you see big charges that can’t be removed.