• Report:  #111281

Complaint Review: Integretel And Sbc - Internet

Reported By:
- los angles, California,

Integretel And Sbc
integretel.com Internet, U.S.A.
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today i came home and viewed my phone bill only to notice that there were several charges from a company i had not seen or heard from before. it was a company called (integretel)!!! i recieved my bill on a saturday so i had to wait to contact them until monday upon speaking with a costomer rep. and disputing the charges i was assured a full refund so well see what happens next month but its been a total inconvience and to top it off sbc was no help at all they didnt contact me or anything yet they cant explain the charges or do anything about them !!!!! so wish me luck and be careful.


los angles, California

1 Updates & Rebuttals


Los Angeles,

#2Consumer Suggestion

Tue, October 05, 2004

INFORMATION ABOUT THIRD-PARTY BILLERS AND HOW TO GET A REFUND I've also had cause to complain about Integretel. FYI, Integretel is a billing aggregator for many small telephone companies (telcos), and it cannot resolve your dispute directly. Integretel has apparently been authorized by many companies it bills for to offer a one-time rebate of 25% off the total charges, which is not acceptable in any case if you feel you've been defrauded or deceived. In my case, Integretel told me to take up my dispute with Sharenet Communications, the company it was billing for. My dispute stems from having received a couple of collect calls totalling 17 minutes for a total charge of $67.59! My phone company was cooperative and dropped ALL charges from these third-party billers and told me that I would be responsible for paying only my usual portion of the bill; it is ILLEGAL to disconnect phone service for refusal to pay disputed third-party billings. NOTE: The third parties may of course come after you individually. Back to my dispute with Sharenet, when I received the collect calls, I heard only an automated "You have a collect call from XXXXX, will you accept the charges?" I'd last received a collect call years ago and was billed a reasonable amount by my phone company, so I had no reason to think for a minute that I'd be charged outlandish rates. The automated operator never revealed the company (Sharenet) or gave any option to hear rates before accepting the call. This is deceptive, and I believe, intentional. FYI, the reason Sharenet, TeleMex, Custom Teleconnect, and other small telcos and their billing aggregators (ZPDI [Zero Plus Dialing], ILD Teleservices, Integretel, etc.) exist appears to be because of the Telecommunications Act of 1996. Many complaints exist against these companies and more. That Act was supposed to encourage local telco competition, but loopholes left telcos open to charge whatever they wanted. I've seen allegations that these telcos pay kickbacks to establishments that allow their pay phones on their premises, including hospitals, hotels, prisons, gas stations, etc. What is NOT legal, however, is hiding from the call recipient a) the company handling the collect call, and b) the rates to be charged. In most cases of disputed collect call charges I've received, these companies said that the call was not deceptive because the company and rates were posted on the public pay phones that were used to make the calls. My response was: 'How on earth was I to know THAT? I'm the RECIPIENT of the calls, not the caller!' They then further said that the company name was spoken by the automated operator when connecting the call. My response: 'IT WAS NOT'. They then said that the rates were available by pressing a number on the keypad when receiving the call. My response: 'IT WAS NOT. THERE WAS NO SUCH OPTION.' It tended to come down to my word against theirs, and I know I'm right! Companies like these have also been accused of slamming and cramming. HOW TO HANDLE THIS ABUSE: 1) Call your phone company and request that the disputed third-party billing be removed from your bill. The phone company cannot legally suspend your phone service for non-payment of third-party billings, but they are required to initially bill on behalf of the third party. You will now deal with the third parties directly. 2) Call the billing aggregator and get the phone number and address for the billing company. In my case, the billing party had one or the other, but never both. (These companies seem to make themselves difficult to get hold of. You may find your calls getting hung up or never answered to begin with even if you DO locate a phone number.) You will need both to report the telco to your Better Business Bureau, if necessary. First attempt to resolve the complaint with the telco directly; note the dates and people you speak with. Sometimes the simple threat of going to the BBB will be enough to convince them to remove the charges altogether. If they refuse to resolve the issue to your satisfaction, escalate to the BBB (www.bbb.org). The BBB will NOT resolve the matter for you, but it puts pressure on the telco to resolve the dispute satisfactorily by noting in its database the outcome of the complaint, which affects the company's rating. (I know that the EDitor of ROR has issues with the BBB's ineffectiveness in protecting consumers, but I still suggest attempting to utilize BBB first.) And of course many of these fraudulent telcos have no interest in protecting their BBB rating, so expect to escalate. 3) If the company refuses to resolve the complaint, report the result back to the BBB and escalate the matter to the FCC at www.fcc.gov (see "Filing Complaints" section). I have been told it is useless to escalate to your state's Public Utilities Commission as they do not handle these types of complaints, so go to the FCC. The FCC can help with actually RESOLVING your complaint. Also complain to the FTC (www.ftc.gov), who can't help resolve individual complaints, but your complaint can help them investigate consumer fraud. 4) Write your congresspeople (www.house.gov/writerep) and inform them of the problem you've encountered courtesy of the Telecommunications Act of 1996. Also write to your state's Attorney General so he or she may help investigate possible fraud (http://www.naag.org/ag/full_ag_table.php). If you feel defrauded, tell them why; outline your case. My objection was that the telco did not inform me of the company handling the call nor the rates. 5) And, of course, you may feel the need to aid in protecting other consumers by posting your experience here. I'll try to update this in the future regarding my own outcome, which was from August 2004. I've seen many, MANY cases like this on the Internet so far, but NO final resolutions posted by others about their own cases yet.

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