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A Diary of Extortion

The story of Steve Van Nattan, your editor:

I have held off on this hoping that AT&T would show some sort of effort to make things right, and I have been reluctant because this episode is so personal.  I have found though that many other people have had similar experiences.

We have had an (800) number for about 7 years now, and it had been with AT&T up until the recent past. (800) numbers started out years ago being quite expensive.  We were not aware of how they were dropping in price, and over the years AT&T made NO effort to inform us.  We have had other phone companies call and suggest we convert our account in some way to reduce prices, and we kind of got used to that, and we foolishly assumed all companies would extend this courtesy.  Not so with AT&T.  They never called or changed our rate, and until very recently, while offering new commercial customers incentive starting prices as low as 12.5 cents a minute for a new (800) account, AT&T was charging us 45 cents a minute.

We have also heard that AT&T continued to charge a number of customers in New York a phone rental fee long after such fees were not charged anywhere due to laws moving phone ownership from the phone companies to the customer.

So, once we saw the light, we moved to another company, and now we have been paying 7.9 cents a minute.  Now, here is where AT&T is virtually trying to extort cash from us.  

We have closed our account with AT&T THREE TIMES.
After each time we were assured the account would never result in another billing.
Each time, AT&T has billed us the base charge of $5+ for the account that does not exist.

We moved to our new phone service provider in January 1999--
The account was closed in March and again in April via THEIR phone system,
and we closed the account again later by mail.
This is July 17!
We just got a new bill--  for all the previous months' service charges !!!!!!!
They purposely provide NO way for us to call anyone higher than a fluff head operator.
We are expected to call an computer and press all the pre-set buttons and pay up.
AT&T does NOT provide a way for us to get to them--
But they are planning to attack us soon.
For $15.88
The amount is small, so AT&T undoubtedly assumes we will obediently pay it until we die.

The most recent event is that AT&T has threatened legal action against us for our three month balance due.

We are not paying it of course, since we have closed the account three times.  They have had my wife in tears over this terror and threat.  Is there any way I can get their attention without resorting to violence? 

Has any other reader had such an experience?  We would like to load this page with such stories about AT&T in particular.  I have to assume that AT&T must be doing this with millions of people nation wide.


And you thought Bill Clinton was a problem--  Try to escape from Big Corporate Gringos.


AT&T did the same garbage to me. Finally after my continued refusal to pay they forwarded it to a collection agency. The collection agency actually helped me and got AT&T to remove the charge.

BUT I have a worse story for you. Sprint offered a 10 cent a minute plan a while back, so I signed up for it. Well my first bill came in and they charged me 30 cents a minute. When I called and complained they explained that they could not change the bill, BUT if I paid it in full then they would change my plan to the 10 cent a minute plan I ORIGINALLY SIGNED UP FOR! What thieves! I have to pay them 20 cents more a minute for them to do what they should have done in the first place. I consider Sprint nothing more than a thug sodomite organization dead set on ripping unnoticing customers off.

Please blast Sprint back to hell (i.e. their corporate offices).


Re. your ATT fiasco.. They pulled that on me too!

We moved out of our home in April and cancelled our phone and long distance services at that time. We continued to receive bills however for a number of months which looked suspiciously like the last month's bill (e.g., they never received our payment--even though they had cashed the check weeks before).

Another scam they pulled was in charging us more than the promised 10 cents a minute for ANY call... We'd scrutinize our bill every so often and find that, well, what do ya know, if you add up the minutes called and divide by the total charge (minus the taxes and fees) we'd come up with 12.4 cents or even 14 cents a minute not infrequently! It would then take months to get the bill rectified and by then, they pulled another one on us!

Anyhow, we received that 5$ "account fee" for two months after we'd shut down services even after writing them a rather blunt cancellation notice in red ink across my bill. I finally got hold of a human on the phone in their labrynth headquarters who got to hear my thoughts personally.. I haven't heard from them since (but it's only been a month!)

Stay tuned...



Bro. Steve,

Who says that God doesn't have a sense of humor. My story is as similar to any of these that you've posted. I tried three times to cancel my cell phone service (AT&T), each time finding that I kept getting charged the next month. Finally I called and got through to some lulu of a feminazi who worked in their credit department. Though she wouldn't give me her last name, she apparently was sufficiently "high" enough that she corrected the problem too well. Since March of 1998 I've been receiving a credit memo for 8 cents like clock work every month.

Bro. Ron



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