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Unexpected Charge Appears on Utility Bill

The Bucks County Office of Consumer Protection offers advice to an Ivyland resident who noticed an unusual charge on a bill for cable, internet and telephone service.

Q.      Recently I ordered a bundled package from a provider for my telephone, cable and internet service.  When the first bill came in I noticed a charge for almost $10.00, and the monthly pricing was not the rate I had been promised.  I never received a written outline of the pricing they had promised.  I had no idea what that extra charge was for, so I called the company.  I have still not received an answer.  I would appreciate any help you can provide.  L.G., Ivyland        

A.      We applaud you for taking the time to actually go though the bill.  Many consumers are so rushed they just take for granted that a bill from the utility or credit card company is correct and just send the payment without going over the statement. 

The charge you found is for a credit monitoring service which may have been inadvertently ordered by you or incorrectly applied to your account.  The company is a third party billing service provider and works for numerous companies offering an array of products and services.  On the bill the name and number of the provider is clearly stated and if disputed or not paid will not terminate your phone service. 

The company apparently did respond to your call, because when our office called they stated that a credit was applied and that the service was removed permanently.  They claimed it was an error and will send you a letter stating what happened and showing a zero balance. 

Had you not been reviewing the bill and they charged you for several months it would have made it difficult to receive a full refund.  By paying the bill you would have inadvertently approved the service. 

Bucks County Consumer Protection encourages consumers to review all their bills carefully.  Any charges or statements that are questionable or not stated clearly should be addressed immediately. 

We would also suggest that all terms and conditions for a service be sent to a consumer before agreeing to any contract.  Remember the devil is always in the details, so be a savvy consumer and request written confirmation of the pricing, especially when companies are asking you to sign a one or two year agreement, locking you into a contract.

Also be aware of any early termination fees and weigh the pros and cons of agreeing to such terms, as they may not be in your best interest as a consumer, depending on your individual situation. 

If you have an issue with a company Bucks County Consumer Protection asks that you send them a formal letter or e-mail outlining your complaint, what you are looking for as a fair resolution and giving the business a clear timeframe to respond, seven to ten business days is reasonable. Always keep a copy of this correspondence for your records.

If you are unable to resolve your complaint with the business directly you can contact Bucks County Consumer Protection to see if mediation is a viable option for your complaint. A complaint form can be filled out at www.buckscounty.org on the Consumer Protection page or by contacting our office to have one mailed to you.

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