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Category: Consumer Protection Law
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Experience:  I am a civil litigation attorney representing individuals and businesses.
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My fiance was overseas in the Netherlands, Belgium, and Italy

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My fiance was overseas in the Netherlands, Belgium, and Italy for 2 weeks in July. He purchased an international plan with his cell phone carrier for talk, text, and data before he left. Then, while overseas added an additional upgrade for more minutes, and I as well went into the store to add even more. A total of $400. Now the cell phone company has charged him $1500 for the last week he was there and according to THEIR records he went over 1000s of minutes, but when I talked to a store associate, the plan had only been for Mexico and canada. However, their customer service phone number is XXXXX all charges are legit and he is liable for them, which is entirely untrue. We both read through his itemized statement and half the charges and calls he did not make. From a legal standpoint, what can be done?

William B. Esq. :

Dear Customer, thank you for choosing Just Answer. My name isXXXXX would like to assist you today.

William B. Esq. :

If the telephone company is unwilling to review the billing invoice (or more particularly the contract that your fiance purchased for overseas phone service), you may need to contact the Kentucky Office of the Attorney General to file a complaint: http://ag.ky.gov/civil/consumerprotection/complaints/Pages/default.aspx

William B. Esq. :

The Attorney General can only accept complaints and pursue enforcement actions against the phone company, it cannot act as your attorney to recover any money or cancel your fiance's account with the provider (although that may happen when during the course of an Attorney General investigation).

William B. Esq. :

If you wish to pursue remedies on your own, you can file a small claims case against the phone company (small claims can settle disputes up to $2,500.00), and ask for the contract to be terminated, the amounts to be adjusted, or otherwise review your rights under the complaint (this would be called a complaint for "declaratory relief").

William B. Esq. :

You can find information about the small claims process here: http://courts.ky.gov/resources/publicationsresources/Publications/P6SmallClaimsHandbookweb.pdf

William B. Esq. :

Dear Customer, as I have been having some issues with the browser today, I am going to switch our conversation over to the "Q&A" format to ensure that you are able to receive my answer, and that I can follow up to any questions you may have. I hope the above information is helpful to you. Thank you for choosing Just Answer, and please do not forget to rate my response. I wish you both the very best of luck with this matter. Best regards, Bill.

Customer:

Thank you very much for your response. During the investigation for the complaint, is there a chance that his credit may be tarnished? We just had a feeling this was going to be a long process to settle. On one of his bills, we found 2 phone numbers that he had not called because apparently calls would get crossed when we to spoke to one another. He would call me on my number and get a random person not associated with my number. But the phone company did not want to hear that...so Atty General is the best route to take? Could we hire a consumer protection lawyer to help pursue the matter?

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Thank you very much for your response. During the investigation for the complaint, is there a chance that his credit may be tarnished? We just had a feeling this was going to be a long process to settle. On one of his bills, we found 2 phone numbers that he had not called because apparently calls would get crossed when we to spoke to one another. He would call me on my number and get a random person not associated with my number. But the phone company did not want to hear that...so Atty General is the best route to take? Could we hire a consumer protection lawyer to help pursue the matter?

His credit can be damaged if the phone company sends the bill to collections.

Most companies will put billing collection disputes on hold whenever the dispute is going through the stated arbitration or mediation process (the arbitrator or mediator is not hired by the company, they are impartial "neutrals" designed to help you resolve your case without having to go to court.

You can hire a civil litigation attorney to assist you in this matter if you wish. You can find a local one using the Kentucky Bar Association Lawyer Referral: http://www.kybar.org/291 ; www.martindale.com; or www.AVVO.com

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

In your expert opinion do think hiring an attorney could be a wise idea? These laws goes through the FTC if I am correct and it seems to be a lot of issues that neither he nor I may fully understand.

If the phone company is billing you improperly, it is a breach of contract action and you can pursue it with the evidence you have available. (You bargained for one thing: international calling, they gave you something else: limited international calling; they are billing you for things you did not receive service for - the additional calls, these are matters a state court can settle). The down side to hiring an attorney is that cost of hiring an attorney may be greater than the actual liability of paying the full phone bill if you do not contest it at all. The up side to hiring an attorney is that they are more familiar with the process and statistically your odds of winning increase (but by the same token, far more lawsuits are brought by attorneys which skews that particular statistic).

As far as the FTC issues, there may be a problem with "cramming" on your bill, and you can learn more about that here: http://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0183-mystery-charges-your-phone-bill

(The link has a way to file a complaint with the FTC in addition to one with your own State's Attorney General Office, above).
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