$215,653.58 AT&T bill


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I told him he shouldn’t have given his phone to that alien who just wanted to “phone home”.

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You see these stories every year or so. Makes you wonder why they don’t have a Million Dollar Phone Bill Department.


Bills like this is why I never allow anyone to do an automatic deduction from my checking account. It either has to filter through a charge card or have me manually intervene in the payment process. Imagine having your entire bank account wiped out because of a billing error that takes months to resolve.

Years ago when I had an AT&T account, they left off my apartment number so the bills didn’t show up. After a few months of no bills, I called them to see what was the deal before my service got shut off. The CSR told me that the post office was returning the bills to them as address unknown. AT&T had my apartment number, they just weren’t printing it on the bills. To make things worse, I asked why they didn’t let me know the bills were being returned and the CSR told me “We didn’t know how to get in contact with you.” My brain about exploded. Gee… how about on the telephone whose service I’m buying from you?


I called the water company to tell them there was a mistake b/c my bill was over $800 and it had never been over $40 for all the years I had lived there. The customer service rep was indignant and insisted that there was NOT a problem, I needed to pay the bill. She had this attitude like I was some low life trying to pull a fast one. Finally when I would not stop protesting she said: “Would you like to speak to a superviser?” {to get rid of me). So the supervisor arranged for a re-reading of my meter.

Low and behold, it was a mis-read b/c of a crack in the meter’s glass cover – just like I told her in the first 20 seconds of my call.

The thing that still gets me is the rep’s absolute insistence that there was no possible way the bill was wrong and the attitude to match.


You have to imagine that the CSR probably gets 10 calls a day from lowlifes just trying to weasel out of their bill. They probably get that attitude pretty quickly after the first dozen or so times it turned out the guy was just full of shit.

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Well, a CSR with the attitude that anyone disputing their bill is a lowlife trying to weasel out of their bill, doubtless gets a lot of calls from lowlifes trying to weasel out of their bill - probably a lot more than the average CSR at the company.

Years ago, I worked for a while as a CSR for a phone company. I got lots of calls from people about their bills - wondering what a particular charge was for, why it was so expensive, disputing some portion of it. Funny thing, I never once got a single call from some lowlife trying to weasel out of a bill. I can’t recall a single case where the customer was lying to get out of a bill. Plenty of times, a cynical rep might have concluded they were, but after a bit of investigation, their stories always checked out.

People who just plain couldn’t afford their bill, didn’t try to weasel out of it. They said openly they couldn’t afford it, and we figured out how they could make their bills cheaper in future, then passed them on to accounts receivable - those were the people who could forgive part of the bill, and authorize payment plans beyond the default overdue bill limits.


I had that happen with one of those “no interest if you pay it in a year” cards. For 10 months I got bills and paid them. Month 11, no bill showed up but I paid it over the phone. Month 12 same thing. I paid the bill, but they claimed I was late and tried to charge me all the back interest. I asked where my bills had gone and they claimed to never have had my apartment number. Funny that I got bills just fine for the first 10 months, then!

You’d think that a smart company (full disclosure: I’m an AT&T customer) would have some kind of automatic event that triggered whenever somebody’s bill exceeded some large amount after a week or two, so they could then call and say, “Hey, there might be a problem. Let’s chat.” That way, you could avoid the months of hassle and wasted time later after someone gets a six-figure bill.


I’m stuck with ATT for my DSL service. I loathe it. The performance completely sucks and every time I have to deal with them on the phone its like dragging my ball sack through broken glass. I swear they screw stuff up on purpose and hope you don’t notice and keep paying extra.

And another thing - I hate how they give their Indian reps Western names. It’s disingenuous. It starts out our interaction with a lie. (Like how they promise great service.) Be proud of who you are. If I worked there I’d be like shove it, I’m xxxxxx and I’m not changing my name. (Ok -maybe I wouldn’t. Becoming “John” is better than not working.)

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The very problem with megaconglomcorpco’s is that nobody is a somebody.

I had that with Powergen when they wondered why I was querying a quarterly gas bill of 600 quid. When they eventually did accept that it was ‘unusual’ and gave me a refund, they decided to credit my account with them instead of putting the money back in my bank account.

six years later you still have a credit?

When the CSR perfects his/her/its technique, he/she-it will be promoted to working for a cable provider.

There are companies that do that. My mother is a T-Mobile customer with an iPhone (and no idea how to use it). She got a call from T-Mobile CS that her mobile data use racked up a charge of 100 € in one month. After explaining that she didn’t use anything internet related and probably forgot turning of data in settings after an iOS update (probably my fault) the rep waived the bill with a warning “If it happens again you have to pay.” We’re living in socialist Europe/Germany though…

You worked for a Phone company, of course it was your fault. Phone companies love sneaking in billing errors in their favor about once a year, just to see who’s actually paying attention to their bills. Also, there is a whole industry built around squeezing money from people who aren’t paying close attention to their phone bills–the slamming industry.

So, which is it? Is it of course AT&T’s fault, or are most customers weaselly lowlifes? Because, you’ll note AT&T is a phone company…

As I recall, one of the main things that got people was other CSR’s messing up. For example, a customer calling in ahead of time to set up a roaming plan for some planned travel (check the customer records, sure enough there’s the call and the agent’s notes), being assured they would be fine, and the agent messing up by either not setting the thing up properly, or misinforming them as to when it would take effect.

I tried to be conscientious, but I really have no idea how many of my callers I messed up leading to higher bills than they should have had.

My original post was in response to a story about a water company.

I am fairly sure the only reason they give the reps Western names is because, despite the name (and location) of the rep being ultimately meaningless- there are far more people who would flat out refuse to talk to a Subrat or Mandeep or what have you. Essentially they’d rather be lied to than have to talk to some foreigner.

Yup. You just have to be persistently calm and insistent.