7 On Your Side

Man charged twice by MCI struggles to get it reversed

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Automatic billing can be convenient, but if there's a mistake, it can be tough to get it corrected. One Marin County man says he spent hours on hold without any help, until 7 On Your Side stepped in.

This is a case that involved a very small amount of money and a large amount of frustration. This consumer was just trying to correct his long-distance bill, but got so upset, he wound up canceling the service instead.

Robert Baughman, 92, of Greenbrae doesn't travel much these days; he uses a telephone instead.

"Mostly calls to my daughters in Florida, New York, Washington," said Baughman.

Baughman has used MCI's long distance phone service for many years and was always happy with it, until he noticed a simple mistake on his account.

"They billed it twice on the same day," said Baughman.

The company had double charged his credit card for one month of service. The statement shows two charges for $31.21 each. Baughman notified the credit card company which reversed one of the charges and he forgot all about it, until a few weeks later.

"They said I owed $31 and some cents that was unpaid. I tried to tell them it was a double billing," said Baughman.

He received this past due notice saying he owed that $31. He called MCI and was put on hold and Baughman called again, but says nobody talked to him.

"I listened to some awful music and I got so tired of it, I hung up on it," said Baughman.

He wrote letters asking why he was billed the same amount again. He says no one would explain. But he did get a cancellation warning. Now he worried about his credit rating.

"I've never had bad credit in all my life," said Baughman.

He got so frustrated he paid the $31 and canceled his service, only to get another bill, this one for $12. That's when he contacted 7 On Your Side and we contacted Verizon, which now owns MCI. Verizon said Baughman was indeed double billed, but he also should have received two credits after the mistake.

He says he couldn't find any additional credit and because of all the confusion, Verizon did agree to remove the remaining charges on his account, saying: "We apologize for any inconvenience as a result of the credit card billing error. As soon as the error was identified, a credit was issued to the customer's credit card."

For Baughman, it was a big relief.

"No one could seem to straighten it out and find out what was right or wrong. 7 On Your Side got some action," said Baughman.

Verizon says there was a one-time glitch in a system that bills credit cards automatically. We'd like to thank the company for straightening out the account. If you have a consumer problem, let me know about it.

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cellphone, 7 on your side, michael finney
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