Are You Paying For Mistakes?


Avoid Extra Fees by Reading Your Bills

Last month I traveled to Europe for a ten day work trip – and I did it Fab & Fru style.  One of my main goals: to avoid ridiculous international roaming fees on my phone!

So I bumped up my AT&T plan to include temporary international calling, data and text – a total of $90 of extra monthly charges, prorated to about $60 based on my travel dates. I had done the same thing before and it worked like a charm.  Perfect – or so I thought…

The Pitfalls of Paperless Bills

Cut to a few days ago when I saw that my automatic AT&T payment on my credit card was processed for $336!  Based on the services I had added, I was expecting my total bill to be more like $200 with tax. So where did this extra $136 come from?

I went online to check it out, but my online statement didn’t really allow me to navigate through every detail of the bill.  I did find one INCORRECT international roaming charge for $35, but where was the other $100 of crazy coming from?  So much for the easy add-ons that were supposed to help me save….

Fixing It The Old Fashioned Way

Annoyed, I called up AT&T to find out where I went wrong – assuming I went over my minutes or something.  But when I spoke to the customer service rep, I realized that the mistakes made were not mine at all!

First off, the rep immediately removed the $35 of roaming fees from the bill.  Wasn’t that the whole point of bumping up my plan in the first place?..  Next, he put me on hold to do a little more investigating.  When he came back, he told me that because I ordered the extra services between two billing cycles, the company accidentally charged me for one and a half months instead of the pro-rated 2 weeks!

A Cellphone Tidbit

The rep advised me that the next time I add on any temporary features in the middle of the month, to never do it online.  He recommended calling and asking them to make sure that the requested activation and cancellation dates are recorded accurately, and that the fees for the ad-ons align with the end of the proper billing cycle so the services don’t ‘mistakenly’ roll over.

The Moral of the Story

It’s hard enough with paper bills to get people to read through and double check each statement before issuing payment.  And while the growing number of paperless bills and automatic bill payments is fantastic on many levels, finding costly vendor mistakes before it’s too late is becoming  increasingly more difficult and time consuming.

If you want to avoid paying for things you DO NOT owe, make an extra effort to really look at every bill you receive, whether it comes in the mail or your inbox.  For example, over the years, I have found many double or inaccurate charges on my credit card statement.  People, companies, and technology all make mistakes. Don’t let laziness cost you money.  Always double check your bills and statements – it could save you hundreds!


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