I’m being hounded by bill collectors; or, more precisely, ATT’s long distance arm. You see, I called up and canceled my long distance service at home after seeing that my marvelous “plan” cost me $13 a month whether or not I made any long distance calls. The guy in the call center overseas tried to talk me out of canceling, but I insisted.
Only it seems he didn’t cancel the service as directed and I continued to get bills, which I refuse to pay. The bill for something I didn’t want is now up to $43. Over the past couple of weeks, we’ve gotten 6-10 calls a day from ATT.
Usually, our phone is dialed by a computer program and there is dead air when you pick up the phone. If you wait on the phone long enough, either a recorded voice tells you “this is an important message from ATT” or you get the guy with the script in the call center in India who cannot/will not address the dispute. He only wants to know when I will pay. “Never” doesn’t seem to be in his vocabulary.
I often advise clients who must wait to file a bankruptcy case to utilize their rights under California’s Rosenthal Act to tell creditors not to contact them. California’s law imports a bundle of consumer rights from the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act and applies them to the original creditor as well as third party collectors. The federal act only applies to debt collectors and not to the original creditor.
Though I’ve been handing out a sample letter to invoke the right to be free of harassing calls for several years now, but have no real feed back on whether creditors and collectors actually honor the right to peace at home.
So, I’ve become an experiment in my own practice: I sent ATT a do-not-contact letter on July 2, return receipt requested. By sending it RRR, I will have proof of when ATT gets my letter. We are keeping a log at home of each of these ATT collection calls, so I can cross check receipt of the letter with the calls we get.
Stay tuned for the next episode of consumer vs. The Phone Company (for those of you who’ve seen the old movie The President’s Analyst.) See Part Two: Taking my own advice