Imagine opening your phone bill to find charges of $40.00 or more for something completely unrelated to your phone service. That’s what happened to Sparks resident Lillian Johansen. AT&T is her service provider for cable, internet, and television. As a senior on a fixed income, she hoped the package deal would help her save money. Instead, she was shocked to discover charges on her bill from companies she didn't recognize.
Johansen called AT&T to ask about the charges, but grew angry when a customer service agent explained that the charges were from a third-party and AT&T, the company that billed her couldn’t help. Instead she was told she would need to call those companies directly, their numbers were printed on the bill. Voicemailtoday.com quickly reversed the charges and discontinued Johansen’s account. A second company Talent and More, LLC, agreed to remove the current charge, but informed Lillian that the account had been open since May and they would not be giving her a refund. Talent and More refused to comment on the story.
Both companies told Lillian Johansen, that she had signed up for their services online. Johansen says she can’t remember signing up for anything. That could be because she didn’t know she was enrolling. Consumer advocates say be sure to read the fine print when signing up for deals and offers on the web. Filling out that form may get you a freebie now, but it may also give related businesses permission to bill you in the future. Once they get your phone number, they can make arrangements with your service provider to do their billing. Ironically the additional billings must be unrelated to your phone service; otherwise your Public Utilities Commission can step in.
As for Johansen, she plans to review all her bills over the past year for charges she may have missed. To find out more about what to do if this has happened to you, watch KOLO 8 News Now at 5:00 PM on Monday 7/27.