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Watch your phone bill

February 27, 2009 - Rob Weaver
A reader called me earlier this week, concerned about an additional fee included on his most recent telephone bill.

The reader had been billed $14.95 -- plus $1.05 in taxes -- for a voicemail service he cannot recall requesting. The service was by Orbit Telecom, and the fee was passed along by Enhanced Services Billing. We haven't found evidence that this is a widespread issue, but I wanted to pass along this advisory nonetheless.

First of all, Orbit Telecom and Enhanced Services Billing are actual companies. The former apparently informs the latter when it has a customer, and Enhanced Billing Services contacts the utility, which adds the charge to its bill. Third-party billing is not prohibited by the Federal Communications Commission.

Some customers claim they have been added -- and billed -- by mistake. Others may unwittingly agree to obtain the service when ressponding to a Web advertisement or e-mail.

Obviously, readers should examine their telephone bills for monthly charges, not just toll calls. Also, be wary when responding to “free” offers on the Internet, or over your telephone.

Judging from what I've read on the Internet written by people seeking to void the charges, it is easier to avoid them than obtain a refund -- or risk having the calling-services company turn the charge over to a collection agency.

 
 

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