Public Service Announcement: Cell Phone Charges

Ok, folks, go grab your cell phone bill…I’ll wait.

Back? Great. Look carefully over your charges. Is there one from a company called “m-qube”? Or potentially a horoscope charge? It’s probably $9.99. And you probably didn’t authorize it.

Matt and I bought new phones last weekend, and in doing so, took a look at our most recent bill. Matt found a charge that we definitely hadn’t given the green light for, so he looked back over several months worth of bills, and discovered that since November, we’ve been charged a total of $100.

This happens when you get a spam text message…apparently, by getting the message, you are authorizing them to charge you monthly (for nothing, or for a random text – for Matt, it was a trivia fact once a week that we didn’t realize we were being charged for). What you MUST do is immediately text “STOP” or “QUIT” in reply to that number, and then check your bill when it comes. Call your service provider immediately if a charge shows up on your bill.

In our case, we attributed last month’s high cell phone bill to a lot of extra texting I’d done (we just added a texting package because until the last few months, neither of us texted enough to warrant the extra fees). In fact, there were TWO $9.99 charges on last month’s bill (so it wasn’t my fault! Yay!). I called AT&T this afternoon, and got a very nice and helpful man on the phone. They are allowed to credit back 120 days worth of charges, which was $60 of the $100 we’d been charged. Honestly, better than I expected. I think that going back 120 days is pretty standard for service providers of all sorts (utilities, etc) when crediting your account for unauthorized charges. (If you’ve been through this and gotten a better deal than that, please let me know!)

So frustrating, but I’m glad we know now…I’d be curious to know if any of you spot these charges on your bills, or if we’re like the last people in America to know about this.

2 responses to “Public Service Announcement: Cell Phone Charges

  1. This is interesting. I’ll have to look at our next bill; I probably haven’t looked at one for several years. I’ll let you know if I see anything!

  2. Nicole, nice post, and I’m sorry to hear about your problems with the bogus charges on the AT&T bill. Like you said, at least your were able to negotiate some of your money back. While talking to your carrier directly–as you did–can work, I thought I’d mention an immensely effective strategy for reigning in cell bills. I’m not trying to blatantly plug here, but I thought this was relevant to your case: I work in the consumer advocacy division of the company Validas, where we electronically audit and subsequently reduce the average cell bill by 22 percent through our website, http://www.fixmycellbill.com. Put simply, Validas guards against the frivolous and unnecessary charges that over-inflate an estimated 80 percent of cell bills. You can find out for free if fixmycellbill.com can modify your plan to better suit your individual needs by going to the website.

    For more info, check out Validas in the news media, most recently on Fox News at http://www.myfoxtampabay.com/dpp/consumer/conlaw/lower_cell_phone_bills_072409.

    Good luck on futher reducing that AT&T wireless bill.

    Dylan
    Consumer Advocacy, FixMyCellBill.com

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