Monday, December 5, 2011

AT&T Can Suck It! (And Also, Thanks AT&T for Being Reasonable)

When in Rome, make sure not to get charged for roaming.
(Wordplay!  Zing!)
A few weeks ago, I encouraged you to double-check your invoices, particularly while travelling via cruise.  My reasoning behind this advice was that Norwegian Cruise Lines double-charged me, my wife, and my brother for an excursion that we took.  However, it turns out that there were even more accounting irregularities due to our vacation.

When I was up at my family's house for Thanksgiving, my grandma complained about how high their cell phone bill with AT&T was the previous month.  Being the personal finance blogger extraordinaire that I am, I asked to take a look at their bill.  The culprit, it turns out, was my brother.  He had single-handedly made their bill go up by nearly $90.

Now, right away, I know what you're thinking, and no, my brother did NOT download Aqua's Barbie Girl 90 times through iTunes.

How did he make their bill go up so much you ask?  Well, he made and received some phone calls while he was on the east coast prior to our cruise.  And he was charged 79 cents a minute in roaming charges for the privilege of being a part of those phone calls.

Let that sink in for a moment.  Somebody, in 2011, was charged for roaming.  ROAMING!  That's like building a fire in your fire place, and then receiving a bill in the mail a few weeks later for using smoke signals.

To AT&T's credit, it was actually pretty easy to get this cleared up.  I called them up, expressed my incredulity that anybody could get charged for roaming (it's not even a thing anymore!), and they credited my grandparents' invoice the amount that had been charged.  It turned out that my grandparents had just kept renewing a very old cell phone plan (that I think they originally signed up for in 1999) under which roaming charges still applied.  With their permission (and at the firm suggestion of the AT&T customer service representative, who claimed that he would only issue a credit for roaming charges one time), I updated their service plan online to a newer, comparable plan.

But the kicker is that neither my grandparents or my brother were going to call AT&T about it!  If I hadn't been there, they would have just paid the extra cash and gone on their merry way.  Somewhat fortunately, neither my grandparents or my brother are really pressed for cash, but I can't help wondering how many people see extra charges on their bills, figure that those charges are fair, and pay them.

How much money do big companies receive just because people don't call them on it?

How about you?  Do any of you still get charged for roaming?  Do you realize that we are no longer in the year 1999?  Let me know in the comments.

Photo by tejvanphotos.

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