Phone co. signed me up for long distance without permission. Law?

Any lawyers out there, I just need some guidance.

Local phone company signed me up for AT&T long distance without my permission and I didn’t catch it for several months. But now I want them to PAY.

What law has been broken by this practice?

The practice is called “bouncing” and it is against the law. Googling “bouncing” and “phone company” might help.

if you have been “slammed”–that is, your local phone company changed your chosen long distance company without your permission–both you and your authorized phone company can receive a penalty payment based on your actual bill:

but it is not clear from your post whether that’s what actually happened. if your local company simply assigned you to one ld company over another because you didn’t actually choose one, that’s not the same thing. i think they can assume that a customer wants long-distance service of some kind.

Today was my first day of training as a telemarketer selling AT&T long distance. The place I work for is an independent contracter used by AT&T to sell their product.

The management takes slamming very VERY seriously: (from our handbook)…“If an act of slamming is found, the PSC can impose a fine between $20,000 and $50,000…”

Its not something that happens very often since, after a sale is made by the telemarketer, the customer is then transferred to a supervisor who goes over all the details before finishing the sale.

There’s always a chance that someone else in the household, or even a visitor or babysitter could have approved the switch without you knowing about it.

In any case, AT&T records each transaction and keeps the recording on file for two years.

You may have consented to change your long distance, without fully knowing what you did. Last week, I got a call from SBC, saying that my long distance was changed to Sprint. I called Sprint, and they said I had authorized it.
As it turns out, my girlfriend had taken in her mobile Sprint phone to be serviced (we share an account, and I am the primary account holder). She said that she did not talk about, see, or sign anything related to changing anyone’s land line long distance.
However, she did remember that sometime when the repair tech was talking to her about what he did to her mobile phone, he mentioned “Hey, you want 100 free minutes of long distance” or something like that in an off handed way. She asked, “totally free?” and he said “yes.” Without thinking much about it, she said, “sure” without putting much thought into it, thinking that he would give her a coupon or credit or something. The tech continued to talk about what could be the problem with her mobile phone and she left.
According to Sprint customer rep that I called, they instruct their reps at the mobile Sprint store to try to sell their long distance by offering 100 free minutes. Pretty dang tricky. You (or someone you know) may have signed up for it without even knowing it! According to the Sprint Rep, they don’t keep records of how your long distance was changed, just when (liars!).

Thanks all, I’ll look into “slamming” or “bouncing”.

Some clarification: I had no long distance company chosen at all before this happened. Furthermore, I even had my long distance blocked. I use calling cards for long distance.

Wow, interesting coincidence…I was just about to do a PIT rant on this very subject…

I had this exact same thing happen yesterday and spent two hours in AT&T customer support hell before straighteneing it out.

I don’t use normal assigned long distance, I dial through an internet telephony service for long distance, and so haven’t used a long distance provider for a couple of years. 2 months ago, AT&T charges and fees mysteriously started showing up on my bill.

The lovely AT&T out-sourced ESBCNFL (English as a second but completely non-fluent language) customer support center claimed that I had always had AT&T and, against my wishes, even forcefully upgraded me on the spot to some other higher-fee plan.

My frustrating call went like this:

“I would like to cancel and get a credit for these charges…”
“Thank you for choosing AT&T service!”
“No, I am not choosing, I want to cancel…”
“Thank you, your service is now activated…”
“No, CANCEL. I don’t want your service!”
“Thank you, we have upgraded and activated your…”

and so on. Two reps gave me the same run around, and my third try bumped me into a 30 minute wait time. I very nearly started breaking and throwing things.

I finally had to call Qwest (my local provider) and have THEM kill AT&T because AT&T wouldn’t do so. The Qwest rep (very helpful and friendly, and NOT based overseas) told me they have been flooded with AT&T complaints and calls.

What happened is AT&T service lurks unknowingly on many people’s plans. When you change a number, move, etc, you get assigned a default long distance carrier just in case you ever need long distance. You never get charged for it though unless you use it, and it never shows up in your bill otherwise.

A couple months ago, AT&T changed their “lurker” plans to suddenly start charging a monthly fee, whether you use it or not, and without notifying customers. Hence my couple of months of mystery fees. Bastards.

Qwest switched me to Qwest long distance (no monthly fees or charges if I don’t use it).

Death to AT&T.

IANAL but I am a trader and I know a little about these situations, having dealt with them from both ends, so to speak.

If the company says you paid by credit card, you can initiate charge back proceddings. I’m using UK terminology, may be different over there, but the basic procedures should be the same. Basically, you just notify the cc company that an item which has appeared on your statement was not authorised by you and that you wish to initiate the charge back process. You don’t have to do anything else, but you can’t use that credit card pending the outcome of the investigation. The onus is then on the company who made the charge to prove that you authorised it, and if they can’t then you will get the amount credited back to your credit card. If they prove you did authorise it somehow (maybe accidentally) then you don’t get your money back, obviously, but neither do you lose anything.

If the company says you paid by cash or check, write them a letter giving them 28 days to either (a) produce a copy of a receipt or other instrument showing that you paid for the service that they say you paid for or (b) give you a full refund. If they can’t produce a receipt and won’t give the refund, you can take them to whatever is the equivalent over there of the Small Claims court, which is basically a legal process for claims which don’t warrant a full legal trial.

The above should hold true for all disputes of this kind, whether phone company or any other kind of company. Good luck. But as the other posters have said, DO thoroughly research the possibility that you or someone you live with has authorised this and you just don’t know, didn’t realise or have forgtoten.

I must have swallowed a space cookie, I don’t know where “bouncing” came from. Slamming was the word I was looking for. Good God, I’m fighting my own ignorance.