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More phone "cramming"; this time it's Virgin Mobile
Old 02-27-2012, 11:46 AM   #1
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More phone "cramming"; this time it's Virgin Mobile

Unbelievable. After posting last week about Verizon adding unauthorized charges to my landline bill, I just discovered that Virgin Mobile was doing the same to my father's cell phone account; adding $10 a month for a data plan. My father, who is in his 80's, wouldn't know a data plan if it hit him over the head.

VM told me that the records don't indicate how exactly it was added. Of course not, because it's cramming. At least the rep promptly refunded the money to his account and put a block on web plans for his phone.

I generally favor market competition and limited government regulation, but there's something seriously wrong about a business environment in which telecom companies routinely add unauthorized charges to capitalize on their customer's inattention, lack of knowledge and trust. So far, I've experienced this with Comcast, Verizon and VM.

What do I do all day? Monitor two sets of accounts for fraud. That's just sad.
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Old 02-27-2012, 12:12 PM   #2
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Can you file a complaint with your state's attorney general's office and/or perhaps the FCC?
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Old 02-27-2012, 12:14 PM   #3
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Can you file a complaint with your state's attorney general's office and/or perhaps the FCC?
I will file with both. But you know, it's closing the barn door after the horse leaves...
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Old 02-27-2012, 12:23 PM   #4
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Seems like this is a subject that begs a 60 Minutes Story. Sorry you are getting hit with these bogus charges, its infuriating.

I keep getting monthly emails regarding billings from Verizon for someone else's account and I can't get them to stop sending these to my email address
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Old 02-27-2012, 01:58 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by Wendy View Post
I generally favor market competition and limited government regulation, but there's something seriously wrong about a business environment in which telecom companies routinely add unauthorized charges to capitalize on their customer's inattention, lack of knowledge and trust. So far, I've experienced this with Comcast, Verizon and VM.
The root issue is that there is a lack of market competition in these businesses. That is why you see stuff that other companies would never get away with (does your grocery store routinely charge you for stuff not in your shopping cart?). Some of it is due to government regulation.

-ERD50
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Old 02-27-2012, 02:09 PM   #6
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Not saying if they did or did not cram... just offering up another suggestion...

Maybe your father actually did agree for the plan... heck, my mom forgot that we had her auto pay for her Virgin phone. She had not used it in over two years and had about $170 on the phone when they stopped charging her since her CC expiration date changed... maybe he had responded to some email or text not knowing what it was.

This would be the first time I have heard Virgin cramming... but since they would not do anything for my moms $170 I do not care for them anyhow..
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Old 02-27-2012, 02:31 PM   #7
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Not saying if they did or did not cram... just offering up another suggestion...Maybe your father actually did agree for the plan... ..
I considered that possibility. He claims he always tops up his account via the internet, and only goes into the "Top Up" area to add money, never to the Change Plan section. He's pretty sharp and would probably remember actually speaking with a VM rep, so I tend to believe he didn't do this.

So, it's still possible, but I found other reports of VM adding $10 charges. The fact that the rep couldn't find a record of how this charge was added increased my suspicion.

I posted this as another friendly reminder for everyone to check their telecom bills, as well as those of elderly parents if possible.
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Old 02-27-2012, 03:38 PM   #8
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I considered that possibility. He claims he always tops up his account via the internet, and only goes into the "Top Up" area to add money, never to the Change Plan section. He's pretty sharp and would probably remember actually speaking with a VM rep, so I tend to believe he didn't do this.

So, it's still possible, but I found other reports of VM adding $10 charges. The fact that the rep couldn't find a record of how this charge was added increased my suspicion.

I posted this as another friendly reminder for everyone to check their telecom bills, as well as those of elderly parents if possible.

Interesting... I decided to take a look and see what other post were out there with VM and cramming.... and guess what THIS post was third in line... and it only started today!!!

The first two were charges in Canada which they said did not happen in the US... not much else...

Still not saying what happened, but there is little info out there on VM cramming...

I went to the site... you said he got a data plan Does he even have a phone that can access the internet? It looks like you have to have one of the devices to access it.

PS... have you thought that someone might have hacked your account and it was not VM?
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Old 02-27-2012, 04:06 PM   #9
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PS... have you thought that someone might have hacked your account and it was not VM?
Thanks. I considered that, too. I'm going to ask Dad if he wants to change his phone number as a precaution, and remind him not to give it out to anyone. Although the charge is for VM's web access service; not sure how or why a hacker could do that. The phone is internet-capable, as are most (or all?) of VM's.

It is still possible he opened a text message from VM and somehow clicked "yes" to add web service, but I don't think he knows how to access texts, let alone use them. I'll ask him that, too.

You are correct that I cannot say for sure what happened, but I've seen other reports on consumer sites about VM doing the same thing. And last year, I discovered that they were charging our two phones for texts we never sent or received. DH and I use our phones so seldom that it's easy to know which charges are false. And of course I'm sensitized by my recent experience with Verizon.

I would still highly recommend VM, with a caution to review account activity every month or so. It's easy to forget to do that with Auto Top-Off turned on, because you never get a bill.
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Old 02-27-2012, 09:23 PM   #10
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The root issue is that there is a lack of market competition in these businesses. That is why you see stuff that other companies would never get away with (does your grocery store routinely charge you for stuff not in your shopping cart?). Some of it is due to government regulation.

-ERD50
Not at all. The wireless market is very competitive and cut throat. Cramming and even slamming does happen. On the cramming, the monthly bills are so confusing and chock filled with various charges and regulatory tariffs/taxes that items like this are easily obscured and not discovered by many customers.
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Old 02-28-2012, 10:19 AM   #11
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Wendy,

I was looking at my phone to see what can happen... and I have thought of another way this might have happened..

Say he was checking out his balance or some other item in the menu. You can accidently hit the button to get onto the web. Doing this might activate the $10 plan.

Again, not trying to defend VM as I am looking to get rid of them when my account balance gets lower for other reasons.
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Old 02-28-2012, 10:42 AM   #12
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Texas Proud, thanks for your helpful ideas and suggestions. I spoke to Dad again but he can't figure out what happened either. I considered the "hit the wrong button" scenario, as it's easy to hit the "internet" key, especially for someone who's not tech-savvy like Dad. However, I would think that would trigger either the "basic rate" or the "5 MB" plan, but he was being charged for the third-tier, "20 MB" plan. In any case, I took steps to prevent this from happening again.

I realize there are several concurrent issues here. My high level of suspicion, based both on my recent Verizon experience and the fact that VM has added unauthorized charges to my personal account. My father's lack of even basic tech knowledge and general confusion about equipment and charges. And the challenge of attempting to manage his accounts and assist him remotely, since we live a few hours apart.

On the other hand, I'm having a much more relaxing day today!
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Old 02-28-2012, 11:53 AM   #13
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Texas Proud, thanks for your helpful ideas and suggestions. I spoke to Dad again but he can't figure out what happened either. I considered the "hit the wrong button" scenario, as it's easy to hit the "internet" key, especially for someone who's not tech-savvy like Dad. However, I would think that would trigger either the "basic rate" or the "5 MB" plan, but he was being charged for the third-tier, "20 MB" plan. In any case, I took steps to prevent this from happening again.

I realize there are several concurrent issues here. My high level of suspicion, based both on my recent Verizon experience and the fact that VM has added unauthorized charges to my personal account. My father's lack of even basic tech knowledge and general confusion about equipment and charges. And the challenge of attempting to manage his accounts and assist him remotely, since we live a few hours apart.

On the other hand, I'm having a much more relaxing day today!

Glad to hear your day is more relaxed....

With the info on the higher level, I will agree that it does look more suspicious... I would think you would get the cheap plan if you went there by accident...
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