Level3 tries cell-phone style billing scam on customers

Tomas L. Byrnes tomb at byrneit.net
Sat Aug 2 13:15:06 CDT 2008


There's a big difference between the airlines hiking fares for future
flights, which you can see when searching, and choose the competition;
and companies adding "surcharges" to pre-existing contracts, some with
terms and penalties for termination; all of which have a relatively high
switching cost.

This is a way for them to raise prices above what they contracted for,
while preventing termination of contracts for cause.

It's sleazy.
 

-----Original Message-----
From: Frank Bulk - iNAME [mailto:frnkblk at iname.com] 
Sent: Saturday, August 02, 2008 10:12 AM
To: 'Patrick Giagnocavo'; nanog at nanog.org
Subject: RE: Level3 tries cell-phone style billing scam on customers

At least they didn't label it a fuel surcharge. =)

Frank

-----Original Message-----
From: Patrick Giagnocavo [mailto:patrick at zill.net]
Sent: Thursday, July 31, 2008 10:47 AM
To: nanog at nanog.org
Subject: Level3 tries cell-phone style billing scam on customers

Today I looked at my most recent bill from Level3.

They are now assessing a 2.5% surcharge, which is listed as "Taxes" on
the bandwidth bill I have.  In the state of PA, telecoms services are
explicitly not taxable.

When you call Level3 billing, they admit in their recorded message it is
not a tax at all, but a surcharge, and if you want to dispute it you are
supposed to quote back their own contract terms to them via email (i.e.
you cannot reach a human).

I would expect this kind of scamminess from Verizon's cell-phone
billing, but a contract is a contract and I can see no provision for
arbitrarily tacking on fees, illegally labeling them as "taxes" and then
putting the onus on you to prove that they can't charge you.

Anyone else seeing this same behavior from Level3?

(It seems that the larger a telecom company gets, the more they want to
act like a scum-sucking ILEC.)

--Patrick




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