BTL Warning – Phone Bill Cramming


!!! WARNING !!!

Read a note this morning from a friend regarding BTL billing. Check your bill carefully for any extra charges that seem out of the ordinary. Apparently they are adding 17 cents to your bill for paying with you credit card from your machine at home” …

To one person this may not seem like a lot but start adding that up over time and the amount of customers BTL has and, well, you get the picture.

$0.17 x 50,000 = $8,500 a month x 12 = $102,000 a year. And I bet they have more than 50,000 customers.

This is called “Cramming” and it was a practice used by phone companies in the USA a while back. Not sure if it’s still done but I haven’t heard about it for a while and I’ve not noticed it on my bills.

What is cramming?

The practice of placing unauthorized, misleading or deceptive monthly charges on your telephone bill — and don’t even know it. These fees show up on bills with vague descriptions, like “service charge,” “membership,” “calling plan” and “voicemail.”

How can you avoid cramming fees?

  • Regularly check all your phone bills for unauthorized charges.
  • Ask your phone company about imposing a “bill block” on all third-party billing charges. Be careful with this one tho because a total third-party block could bar you from buying apps for your smart phone or making text donations to charitable causes.
  • Read the fine print for anything you’re signing that asks for your telephone number. Signing up for contests and such could have fine print that you agree to pay for fees to be in said contest.

What needs to be done by the regulating body(ies)

  • Require telephone companies to notify subscribers at the point of sale, on each bill, and on their websites of the option to block third-party charges from their landline telephone bills, if the carrier offers that option.
  • Identify the service provider associated with each charge.
  • Distinguish between charges for which non-payment will result in disconnection of basic local service, and charges for which non-payment will not result in disconnection.
  • Setup a national complaint line to report erroneous charges on bills and to report companies refusal to waive erroneous fees.
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