Cramming is a common telephone company practice in which services you never agreed to end up on your phone bill
Nowadays, phone companies have a lot more to offer consumers than just basic phone services. Some of the phone service add-ons offered to consumers are 3rd party calling, call waiting, call forwarding, directory assistance, conference calling and internet access to name a few. Many of us have asked for some of these services and expect to find them on our monthly bills. However, many people discover fees for services they never asked for. This practice of charging consumers for services whether they asked for them or not is called “cramming” and it happens all the time.
Don’t let over-zealous sales reps try to stick you when they think you’re not looking. You can and should fight back if you’re cramming victim. If you know what to look for and what to do if it happens to you, you’ll never pay for services you didn’t ask for. We’ve compiled several tips to help consumers avoid being “crammed” by the phone company.
How to Avoid Cramming Fees
- Check your phone bill carefully. If you are unsure about charges that appear on your bill, call the number listed on that page for billing questions and ask for an explanation. Keep on checking, because even if the charges are removed one month, they may pop up again the next month.
- Read the fine print. Entry forms for contests, coupons for goods or services, and even checks, can include purchase agreements you’ll find later on your phone bill.
- Look at “junk mail” carefully. It could be a “negative option” notice that you will be charged for a service unless you contact the company to cancel it.
- Don’t return calls to numbers you dont recognize. A crammer may use Automatic Number Identification to see the number you’re dialing from and process an unauthorized request for service.
- Beware of shysters posing as phone company representatives. Callers claiming to work for your phone company may attempt to trick you by asking if you’re happy with your phone service. If you’re unhappy in any way they’ll offer you some sort of change to your service. Be careful how you anser these questions because they’re often recorded as proof you agreed to purchase something. Ask for the caller’s number, name and who they work for. Contact the phone company on your own to verify this information.
- Know what types of services can appear on your phone bill. In addition to billing for its own services, your phone company may bill you on behalf of other companies for services they sell such as voice mail, paging, or Internet access – even for club memberships and other types of services. Cramming is when a company charges you through your telephone bill for extra services that you never agreed to buy.
- Check into a “bill blocking” service. Some phone companies allow consumers to block telemarketers from adding new services and charges to your phone bill unless you confirm it first with your phone company. Sign up for this if it’s available.
- You aren’t responsible for charges you never authorized. This final tip may be the most important. Just make sure you notify your local phone company about the problem and pay the rest of the bill on time.