Bits from Bill: Check Your Verizon or Other Wireless Bill NOW!
Many of my readers know I'm not a fan of software added to a downloads if you don't read one of the setup screens and uncheck the option. This behavior has been accepted as a legitimate business practice even when the parasitic program blocks attempts at removal.
Large, well known companies like Oracle and Adobe commonly add browsers, toolbars, download managers even to required security updates. They receive a royalty on every successful installation which depends completely on users not paying attention.
Unwanted downloads isn’t the only business with growth projections that take advantage of consumer ignorance. A number of company’s have established their business on providing ringtone services that we never signed up for. The only way I found out we were unwilling subscribers was by taking the time to read our phone bill. Over $20 was added to our bill for a services I had never heard of. It turned out to be a subscription so if I hadn’t found it we would have continued to have it on every monthly bill. Reviewing old Verizon Wireless bills I discovered that we had been charged every month since last year.
The Verizon rep was willing to remove the charge and stop the subscription but hesitated when I said this charge as part of a scam. During my first call the rep never bothered to review previous phone bills to remove charges while I could still reverse them. Apparently, by providing the billing of this service, Verizon receives a large chuck of change. So the phone companies don’t really care how these ring tone company’s obtain their customers as long as they receive payments for providing the billing.
The Verizon rep did describe what happen. My wife received a text message welcoming her to a ringtone service and asked her if she wanted to cancel this service. She never had any connection to this company yet, she had to select No on one of the screens or she was considered a new subscriber. The trouble is my wife doesn't have a smart phone and doesn't even know how to use text messages with her phone. She remembers getting some kind of unrequested message and that she routinely deletes text messages without reading them. Ignoring these messages apparently is the same as agreeing to their terms.
The service rep I spoke to today admitted that besides harvesting your cell phone number from services you give it to, they have software to generate random phone numbers and blast out text messages to millions of cell phones. If they reach a valid phone and you don’t reply correctly you’re automatically a subscriber. We used to call these “War Games Dialers” after the movie with Matthew Broderick.
In the business world I grew up in this is considered deceptive, near criminal behavior. It doesn’t make me a Verizon fan no matter what other services I love that Verizon provides.
Apparently, Verizon isn’t the only wireless company allowing these scams. The day I started to write this a friend alerted me to the same problem he experienced with Sprint. He didn’t have the same quick attention II had removing the charges and was fighting his $60 USD bill.
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