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Date: Sun, 30 Jun 91 22:08 PDT
From: John Higdon <>
Reply-To: John Higdon <>
Organization: Green Hills and Cows
Subject: Is Pacific Bell Giving AT&T What is Due? 

"Steven M. Palm" <myamiga!> observes:

> My problem is this: I highly distrust their count of my phone calls.

To which the Moderator replies:

> If you find their count is wrong, and can prove it, I'd be surprised.

Perhaps Ameritech is blessed with better accuracy than Pacific Bell.
Let me tell you about an ongoing case of gross billing error
perpetrated by Pac*Bell that continues to this day.

I have a "Full State 800" service line. It has two bands and two rate
periods. The bands are "Pac*Bell-IntraLATA" which includes all calls
from within the San Francisco LATA; and "AT&T" which includes calls
from the rest of the state. The number is not reachable from outside
California. Note that the IntraLATA rate is significantly higher than
the "AT&T" rate. In other words, a call from next door costs more than
a call from San Diego.

All calls come from a small handful of people, all located in southern
California -- well out of the San Francisco LATA. In addition, those
calls are always made during the lower time-of-day rate. For the past
several years the bill arrives showing about 60% of the usage charged
as IntraLATA calls and the other 40% billed correctly as AT&T traffic.
The total hours shown is correct, as is the time-of-day usage. The
bill, because of the incorrectly billed IntraLATA usage, is significantly 
higher than it should be.

At first, there was great skepticism on the part of the Pac*Bell reps.
How did I know where all the calls came from? Answer: I know personally 
every single person who calls and where he is calling from.  Perhaps
there were calls answered by others on the premesis. No, there is no
one else here. The difference was credited.

Again -- the next month. "We'll look into it and let you know." In the
meantime, it was credited once again. Over the years, the following
has taken place:

I was told that they did not actually bill according to usage, but to
a formula. I pointed out that others who could accurately track usage
had been properly billed. I also said that nowhere in any of the
advertising was it said that usage was "estimated" and that such a
policy was contrary to the history and customs of US telephone service.  
They backed down on that little piece of pacification.

A "trap" was put on the line for two months to find out where the
calls "really" came from. One thing was for sure: they did not come
from within the LATA, according to the results of the trap.

"Programmers" were presented with the problem. No one, but no one had
an answer. The billing errors persisted.

I submitted a two-month detailed record of ALL calls received on the
line. The report included time of the call, duration, and the area
code and number originating the call. No luck.

A rep suggested that I convert to Pac*Bell "custom" 800 and reject the
IntraLATA exchanges. No soap. Custom 800 charges are significantly
higher than the service to which I subscribe.

To my knowledge, there has been no recent progress in tracking the
billing problem. Right now, someone in the business office pulls up my
bill each month, recomputes the charges based on total AT&T usage, and
then issues a credit that appears on the following month's bill. This
happens month after month. The reps do this now without even being
told. But the billing problem remains.

Not long ago, an associate who is also in the SF LATA, who has the
identical service for the identical purpose complained of the
identical problem. Month after month, his bill shows Pac*Bell usage
when there is none and it is in reality AT&T usage. He also gets
credits by the business office, but not yet automatically. He is also
served out of a different CO and rate center than myself.

We are in the peculiar position of being to state categorically where
calls do and do not originate, but what about businesses that have
this service? How many Pac*Bell accounts do you suppose are out there
that have inaccurate billing and that are completely unaware of it?
How much money do you suppose AT&T is being screwed out of since it is
not being credited with the calls by Pac*Bell's billing computers?

The moral of all of this is that if you have any reason at all to
suspect that telco is improperly billing you -- CHECK IT OUT!

        John Higdon         |   P. O. Box 7648   |   +1 408 723 1395      | San Jose, CA 95150 |       M o o !

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