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Bill for cancelled service has customer seeing red

THE FIXER HAS SAVED YOU

$1,419,666

Updated: November 27, 2012 11:04AM



D ear Fixer: I have a receipt showing I switched service on two phone lines from T-Mobile to Cricket on Sept. 8. Both of the contracts were over, so I was free to go.

Now, T-Mobile says I owe them $90.35 for the billing period of Sept. 10 through Oct. 9 on one of the lines. They claim the number wasn’t switched over until Sept. 10, after the new billing cycle started.

Calling them got me nowhere. After waiting on the line for 30 minutes, the person on the phone just kept saying it is their “policy” to do this — that all wireless companies have this mysterious “policy” and that it was too bad for me.

I was a customer for 10 years and always paid my bill on time. I feel like this is just their way of sticking me in the end for switching carriers.

Please help me so I don’t have to pay for a month’s worth of service that I did not use.

It’s a matter of principle. Plus, my husband and I have just moved and money is tight.

Wendy Carranza, Chicago

Dear Wendy:

This is weird, because you told The Fixer you’re certain you canceled both lines at the same time, on Sept. 8. One line was canceled just fine; the other one was billed the extra 90 bucks.

We took this mystery to T-Mobile spokesman Scott Goldberg, who, we have to say, looked into it immediately.

T-Mobile still swears that its records show a Sept. 10 cancelation.

However, they’ve decided to zero out the bill anyway, in the interest of good customer relations. (It was up to $92.05 at that point, but now it’s all gone.)

This is a good time to remind everyone to keep very close track of your phone contract’s end date.

And remember: If you add or change your service, you may be unwittingly signing up for a whole new contract period.

Phone fix, part two

We have an update on Todd Price of Oak Forest, another Fixer reader with a phone bill glitch.

In mid-September, Todd was promised a refund of $32.25 from T-Mobile for minutes he purchased for a phone he ended up returning. But the check never came.

It turns out there was an error in the address they were trying to mail it to. T-Mobile has made the correction and the check is heading out immediately.

Bought a sketchy European product?

U.S. consumers can already go to SaferProducts.gov to see whether a product has been recalled by the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

Now there’s an international portal we can use to see whether officials in Europe, Australia or Canada have ordered a baby product or other consumer item removed from store shelves.

The new Global Recalls Portal is at GlobalRecalls.oecd.org. U.S. regulators and their counterparts overseas hope it will also make it easier to coordinate efforts to improve safety.

COSTLY LESSON: A consumer’s tale of woe

Everyone likes to snap up a good deal, but some consumers like to snap up lots of a good deal.

And that’s not always such a good deal.

Just ask H.L., who bought a set of 10 car washes at a pricey car “spa.” He only used one before he sold his home in Illinois and moved 100 miles away out of state.

Sorry to say but H.L. can’t expect to get a refund.

He might feel better knowing he ripped himself off, though.

The Fixer has heard from other consumers over the years who were granted freebies like “lifetime oil changes” from car dealers who later closed their businesses.

Or “lifetime memberships” from health clubs that had remarkably short lifespans.

It always feels worse to have someone else take your money than to lose your money on your own.

What is a Costly Lesson? It’s an UNFIXABLE problem that cost someone a lot of money but holds a valuable lesson for the rest of us. If you’ve got something to warn the rest of us about, e-mail it to szimmermann@suntimes.com with Costly Lessons in the subject line. And don’t worry – with Costly Lessons, we leave out last names to prevent further embarrassment.



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