Messing with the phone company

May 31, 2010 | By | 9 Replies More

My phone company has utterly and repeatedly lied to me about my bill. It’s infuriating. I call them up and ask them to justify my bill. They “apologize” and insist that it will cost exactly $X every month in the future. Then the bills show up and they are $X plus an extra $15. What do you do, go to small claims court over $15? I’m saving up my bills and I actually might do that someday. In the meantime, I do wonder how many other people are having the same experience, and I assume that there are plenty of you out there. Unfortunately, these do not make good class actions because they usually involve oral misrepresentations over the phone. In order to prove that a large group of people were lied to, you’d need to call every customer into court to testify. Courts usually reject these as class actions. Therefore, anyone with this situation is likely in the same boat I’m in. Small damages also combine with clever arbitration clauses to amount to telephone company immunity.

I’m telling you this little story as a prelude to showing you this image. I do understand this person’s frustration. Bravo!


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Category: Consumerism, Fraud

About the Author ()

Erich Vieth is an attorney focusing on consumer law litigation and appellate practice. He is also a working musician and a writer, having founded Dangerous Intersection in 2006. Erich lives in the Shaw Neighborhood of St. Louis, Missouri, where he lives half-time with his two extraordinary daughters.

Comments (9)

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  1. Niklaus Pfirsig says:

    My phone company bills me 9.95 per month for for a DSL service that I have never used, and have never even activated.

    I've tried to get it removed, but they say its part of a "Bundle" and can't be removed. I wish I could file criminal charges against these bastards, but don't know where to start.

    The funny thing is, tha a few years ago, when I wanted DSL, the idiotic CSR for my area refused to set me up because I run Linux at home.

  2. Tim Hogan says:

    Generally, in the Missouri Small Claims Court, if you have an affidavit of a person who would testify to a fact in Court, it may be used by the Court in deciding the case. Estimates without witnesses may be generally be used in repair cases, and generally only you have to apear to testify. If you win a judgment, the other side has 10 days to file for another trial, or the judgment is final. In the new trial of your case, the normal evidence rules generally apply and an attorney is probably a very good idea. Collection may be an issue but, at this point you may want to refer the matter to a qualified collection attorney, or file the garnishment/execution papers on your own at a minimal cost.

    I have handled many of these small claims cases in Missouri for an initial flat fee of $500.00 which is less than one-third of the $3,000.00 total which is he maximum you may sue for in Missouri Small Claims Court. I try to place all the cases on a single docket day so as to minimize appearances by myself and clients. If we lose, we may also file for another new trial but, that costs another $500.00. If we win, and the other side files for another trial, I charge another $500.00 for a total fee of a maximum of $1,000.00 or one-third the $3,000.00 maximum. Costs are paid by the client. Any appeals or extra-ordinary remedies cost extra.

    In many cases, it makes sense to file in Small Claims Court because you usually get a trial within a month of filing your case, other other courts may take many months or years to try your case.

    In some other cases, the Missouri Merchandise Practices Act may provide smaller claims consumers a remedy where we may sue for a smaller amount but, ask for attorney’s fees, costs, and even punitive damages. The MMPA does require a filing fee, service costs and may have other expenses but, usually these are less than $500.00. In these types of cases, I will accept an initial payment of $500.00-3,000.00 to be credited against any other fees earned in the case, if any.

    Tim Hogan

    Attorney at Law


    Licensed in Missouri

  3. Dan Klarmann says:

    That check image would be cleverer if it computed to either an actual monetary value, or some transcendental number, rather than a mundane and un-debit-able 1/5 of a cent.

  4. Dan Klarmann says:

    Anyone who got through fractions knows that the sum (∑) of regressive halves is one. And somewhere in high-school calculus or physics they trotted out e<sup>πi</sup> + 1 = 0 to relate frequency to the Gaussian plane (e<sup>πi</sup> = -1).

    So we get 0.002 + (-1) + 1 for the 3 terms.

    But one does have to remember math past arithmetic to solve this.

  5. Niklaus Pfirsig says:

    Dan, I'll admit it took me a while to recall the math courses from over thirty years ago, but I got it. I was starting to feel like a graduate of Father Guido Sarducci's Five Minute University

    It works out to 2 mille.

  6. Tim Hogan says:

    Thank you math mavens!

    • Erich Vieth says:

      But Tim, which one should we believe? They have different answers to the same math problem. Should we average the results? Should we capriciously designate one of them to be the winner? This is why many people don't trust those scientist-types!

  7. Dan Klarmann says:

    1/5 cents = 0.002 dollars = 2 mille. All the same answer.

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