7 On Your Side Helps You Save Money On Your Phone Bill
(New York-WABC, February 20, 2002) — Are you paying too much for your home phone service? Experts say many customers are being over charged on their bill. Seven on Your Side’s Tappy Phillips tells us what we need to watch out for.
You may be paying too much on your monthly phone bill. One former phone company employee told us as many as 50 percent of phone bills are wrong, and even the phone company admits that you may be paying for services you don’t use. We’ll show you how to troubleshoot your own bill and save with Seven on Your Side.
A pile of phone bills represents one Verizon customer’s archive of anger.
Margaret Markward, Verizon Customer: “I feel cheated.”
Margaret Markward says she’s been incorrectly billed by her the local phone company for the past 15 years.
Markward: “I’ve been overcharged thousands of dollars.”
So she brought in Tom Allibone, a phone auditor. Tom used to work for the phone company, but now he represents the consumers. His job is to comb through phone bills and uncover errors.
Tom Allibone, Phone Bill Auditor: “Close to 50 percent of the time we find something that’s truly a billing error.”
Jim Smith, Verizon: “I think that’s an exaggeration. I don’t think it’s anywhere near that high.”
Verizon says just three bills in 1,000 have errors, but they concede that consumers often pay for service packages they never use.
Smith “It could be over time you’ve purchased some services that you’ve forgotten about, that you don’t realize you had.”
Allibone: “Things like caller ID, call waiting, call forwarding, voice mailing and things of that nature. These charges are all lumped together, so you really need to unlump them and figure out what the cost components are. The way I like to describe this is buy the parts ‘a la carte.'”
One of the services you may never need is something called ‘inside wire maintenance.’
Smith: “The chances of something happening to your inside wire, the vacuum cleaner bangs against it and shorts the wire out, are pretty slim.”
Allibone: “For the average consumer, ‘inside wires’ is usually pure profit for the carrier.”
How can you audit your own bill? Start by asking the phone company for your customer service record.
Allibone: “Once you have it, then call the phone company and ask them to walk down through that document with you line by line.”
And like Margaret has done, hold onto your bills to prove problems.
Markward: “Over the years, on my own, I’ve found about 100 mistakes.”
Tom Allibone and TeleTruth are launching a campaign called “Send Us Your Phone Bill.” As part of the campaign, he’ll analyze it the bill for free, the only catch is that if he find errors and recovers money for you he takes half.