After my relieved conversation with Mr. M in the Philippeans I thought my work of getting rid of the unwanted phone lines was done, and, to make it even better, the bill would be "zeroed out" and I'd not need to pay anything at all.
The conversation with Mr. M. was in early March, and I kept on getting bills, as he said I would. And, as told to, I ignored them, but with a teeny bit of concern about it.
A week later, on Friday, the 10th of March, I was relieved to receive an email message from Judy at Verizon Business (still MCI, though) that said:
"This is just to let you know that your disconnect order is in process. The approximate due date is 3/20/06 with a bill stop date of 3/16/06."
Because I'd had such a difficult time getting untangled from MCI so far, I replied to Judy with the following message:
I'd like a confirmation also that the account balance has been zeroed out. I was told by MCI's service rep to indicate that should be done."
I am unable to do anything with the billing on the accounts. Once the order completes you will need to call customer service to have them assist you. The automatic credits take 1 to 2 billing cycles to generate.
My next communication from MCI was a letter from MCI Customer Financial Services, dated April 17 (more than two weeks after the lines were to be disconnected per my request, confirmed by Judy) informing me that I now owed $511.12 and if I didn't pay $462.87 (I have no idea why they didn't want the whole amount) by the 27th of the month my phone lines would be disconnected for non payment.
Well, maybe this is just more of the left hand having no idea what the right one is doing at MCI , I thought, so I waited a bit more to see if those bills would stop, as Mr. M. had said they would.
But then, in July, I got a phone call on my voice mail from a collection agency. I called them back and found that MCI had sent my bill to a collection agency in Illinois. I explained the whole thing, first to Ms. K. and then to her supervisor. At first they insisted they couldn't do anything about the situation, but then gave me a phone number for a service rep at MCI that I should call to straighten it out.
The phone number turned out to be for some other place entirely. But I slogged on, and managed to talk to a service rep, Ms. C. at MCI who eventually found my account, (I was on hold for an hour. I timed it this time) and said there was a note on it, written by Mr. M. ordering the discontinuing of service, but that there was no mentioning of him requesting the account be zeroed out. She also said that since it had gone to a collection agency she could do nothing to help me, that I'd have to deal exclusively with the collection agency.
July 17, I talk to T. at the collection agency, and she says they will request invoices from MCI and call me in a week.
July 21, call from K. at the collection agency. They haven't received the invoices yet from MCI, they will probably call me next week. They don't call, MCI can't find my account again.
I decide to take it to Michigan's Public Service Commission. I make a formal complaint. The person helping me, Ms. W. does her thing, she appeals to MCI's top complaint person.
I correspond with MCI's top complaint person, Ice Princess, Ms. L. via email. She replies to my detailed account of the situation with a message that gets almost all the facts wrong. She's blowing me off, doesn't even bother to respond to what's actually happened.
She denies my request, says the bills will stand, but, being sweet and generous, she'll knock off the charges for the last two months of the time I was billed for. It's a slap in the face. (Later, they're back on again.)
The Public Service Commission rep tells me she can do nothing more.
I tell the collection agency, and the Public Service Commission rep, that it appears that, basically, my credit rating is being held hostage by MCI, that they know I should not be required to pay these charges, nor have the bill sent to a collection agency, but they don't give a d***. It's probably a budget thing, they deny all requests, no matter how fair and just they are, because it makes the supervisor's budget look better.
They say, yeah, that's basically it.
But, I'm eventually vindicated, because a service rep at MCI, I'm not even going to give her initials, tells me during one of my many calls to try to clear this up that there IS a note on my account after all about Mr. M. requesting that my bill be zeroed out, it's right there on the computer screen. And, she says, the request was denied. They just didn't bother to tell me that.
Maybe they were lying before, or, maybe that's something that was added later--though I doubt it.
In the end, after many more months, having exhausted every option except trying to reach the president of MCI, who would have referred it back to the I-don't-give-a-damn-and-I-want-to-make-it-clear-that-I-don't Ice Princess, I decided I'd wasted more than enough time on it. If I'd been paid for my time MCI would have owed me much more than they insisted I owed them (though I got varying amounts as to what that actually was).
The bill was, by then, with a different collection agency. They evidently send it to another one after awhile if the first one hasn't collected. My husband said to me, "Why don't you offer to settle with them for part of the bill?" So, I did. I asked the really nice lady at the agency, over the phone, would she settle for half? She surely would! I gave her my credit card number, and she snail mailed me a receipt saying it was paid in full, which you'd better believe I've kept for proof.
I told her the short version of my story, and that I'd pursued it this far because I didn't want to let the Wookie win. But, it wasn't worth it anymore.
And that's the end of my Telephone Bill Adventure. At least I hope so.
What did I learn?
1. Open your mail. Or, at least give it more than a casual glance when you think it's just junk mail.
2. Read your credit card statements carefully. It may look like it's the same old monthly charges, but make sure.
3. Big corporations gobble up other corporations and businesses, and become huge unwieldy, inefficient, mistake prone mega businesses. You have to watch them and get out of the way, go elsewhere if you can.
4. Acquisitive corporations have large numbers of poorly supervised, don't care about the customer employees. They haven't weeded them out because the corporations aren't service oriented, nor customer oriented. They are profit oriented. Makes a big difference.
5. Avoid doing business with businesses who do a poor job serving you.
6. Don't buy stock in companies that have poor customer service policies and practices. Even though they may appear to be profitable at the present, eventually they will decline because you can't run a business well over time without caring for your customers.
7. Call the help lines for any business you are considering hiring to work for you. If they aren't satisfying, go elsewhere.
8. Don't give up too quickly, keep going up the chain of command until you get satisfaction if it's a just and fair request.
9. Keep written records of your correspondence. Date everything. Keep notes on phone calls. Keep email printouts, and the original email messages in their own folder in your email software program.
10. Know when to quit.