Tuesday, July 24, 2012

A Self-Pitying Whine about AT&T

Okay, call it a self-pitying whine if you like but if I warn just one lost soul off a particularly annoying little fiddle from ATT, I'll count myself well pleased.  Call it an updated version of Crank's broomstick scam.

Here's the deal: ever heard of  "www.numsvc.com"?  I want to say neither had I but apparently they had heard of me.   Sunday afternoon a message popped up on my cell phone telling me that my "Info Svc" was going to "renew" unless I sent them a message to "numsvc" telling them to STOP.    Since I had not the slightest recollection of ever ordering such a service, and figuring it might well be a fraud, I just ignored it.

But await a minute--home last night, I got a little nervous and  I checked my bill. You know an ATT bill?  Mine is four pages; one is boilerplate and the other three are mostly numbers, fiendishly calculated to obscure more than they reveal:  ATT is in love with "0.00s," and they specially love itemize every single government charge on its own line--I count four"0.01s," two "0.02s" and "0.05s,"  along with an "0.03," an "0.04,"  an "0.08" and suchlike.

There's my phone charge on the bill, too, plus a second line for Mrs. Buce, hers at $9.99.  But wait--over on the net page, there is another $9.99--, with the unsettling superscript: "to stop a subscription, text STOP" etc. Uh oh.  Stop, what?  A bit of Googling tells me it's that mystery website again--a service that will look up 10 phone numbers a month.  Oh, be still my soul:  save you guessing, I can assure that I haven't felt the need to pay for a phone number ever, not once in my long and not-overly-corrupt life.

 Suitably steamed up,I did something I hate to do: I called ATT.  I didn't want to go straight to shout mode so I opted for online chat.  And here's the infuriating part: almost the first words off her* keyboard were "I will assist you in removing the charge."

Wait a minute, wha--?   Yes, of course, I should have saluted "removing the charge" as the magic words, but here's the thing: evidently these guys have instructions such that when anybody questions the charge, they remove it. Otherwise, it stays.

Like I say, I suppose I should have quit there.  But I admit, probably someplace in the bowels of the intertubes, somebody will be able to show me that I once punched a button saying, why yes, thank you, I'd love to pay you $9.99 a month for a service I have never needed and have no conception of using!  Not even $10!  Such a bargain!

You'll think less of me when I tell you I still wouldn't quit.     Can you confirm for me, I asked, that I ever actually ordered this stuff?  Oh no, came the response--and this one got me steamed all over again--we don't know that; it's an independent contractor.   That's when I  the caplock and--but you have the essence, I should  not bore you with the detail.

In short, we have one more item of evidence that ATT's business model is to make your telephone experience as unpleasant as possible.  And if that $9.99 pops up on your bill, give 'em a call.  And tell 'em I sent  you.
The name was, I think, female.  But it might well have been a bot.


Anonymous said...

Apparently, this is a scam in which numscv buys phone numbers similar to legitimate numbers, hoping people will misdial. For example, if a charity asks you to text a phrase to 54532, NUMSCV might purchase 54533 and start charging you for their "services." Most people probably won't be vigilant enough about their phone bill to notice the charge or to opt out. AT&T probably cancels as a matter of policy to avoid consumer litigation. I wonder why AT&T hasn't blocked numscv, since they appear to have some policy on it. I also am curious as to whether numscv and AT&T are cooperating or working together in any way.

New York Crank said...

This is a phone scam thought up by Ernestine the Phone Operator's evil love child. So where is Lily Tomlin now that we need her?

Crankily yours,
The New York Crank

Taxmom said...

I had a similar conversation with ATT about a year ago. No, they couldn't confirm that I had placed an order for this service and no, they couldn't promise me this charge wouldn't show up on my bill in the future.