Landline Downsize – The Saga Continues

July 22, 2009 by  
Filed under Spending

As part of our drive to reduce unnecessary recurring monthly expenses, Mr. ToughMoneyLove has been trying to downsize our landline telephone service to the bare minimum. I want a single residential phone line with no call waiting, caller idea, or other features.

When I first tried to make this change online, the option was not available. Instead I had to call. I was assured it had been accomplished.

Not so. My bill showed a downsize in service, but not to the cheapest plan. This time, I found a way to make the change online. I received an email and paper confirmation from AT&T. Finally, I thjought, it’s done ….

But wait, there’s more!

Yesterday, I received an email telling me that our bill was ready. (We are on electronic billing only – no paper for me.) I checked the amount and was not happy.

I drilled down into the billing details and discovered that although we had the most basic service ($13.95/month), we were being separately charged $9.99 for caller ID and $7.95 for call waiting. Unbelievable.

AT&T has an online dispute feature which I immediately used for both of those charges. I also called AT&T customer service to report the unwanted services and charges.

Surprisingly, I was immediately told that the charges would be removed retroactively. I would not have to wait the ususal one or two billing cycles to see the credits – they would be effective immediately. Wow. Theoretically, I can pay our existing billed amount less the credits. We shall see if that works.

After I hung up, I noticed that I had already received  two emails regarding my online disputes of the two charges. Those messages also advised that my disputes had been approved and that I would be credited for the disputed charges.

Given the apparent pace of the corrective responses, I’m starting to wonder if this sequence of events is part of a grand scheme by AT&T. It’s as if they are trying to say to customers who downsize:  “Are you sure you don’t want caller ID and call waiting? Just in case, we’re going to keep those services on your account and force you to contact us one more time.”

I wonder how many folks just put up with it?

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5 Responses to “Landline Downsize – The Saga Continues”
  1. PW says:

    AT&T has definitely caused me much stress in the yrs I have had them and I am trying to move.Every few months my fax line bill is incorrect,and I end up calling AT&T every mo. to see what the “real bill” is.I get late notices threats on the 19th of the mo. to pay my bill or else when the payment is due 26th of the month. Huh? How can a bill be late when it isn’t even due yet-after several yrs of dealing with this I just gave up-they said it is because of the due date of my bill, again, huh? Short story, they are terrible,and never fix or credit what they say they will.Moving from them is on my list of “to-dos” but not a top priority. It should be though.

  2. AC says:

    When my wife and I got married in January and moved into a new apartment, we decided that we barely needed a landline, since we both used our cellphones as our primary numbers. We decided to try out MagicJack (, which gives us a year of service for a one-time flat rate ($40, I think, but I don’t remember).

    They send you a little piece that attaches to a USB port on your computer at one end and a standard phone on the other end. We’ve found that it isn’t perfect – the call quality isn’t always the best, though it got much better when we used a wired connection (rather than wireless) on that computer. Also, the computer sometimes stops recognizing the USB device when we wake it up from hibernating, though a simple restart of the computer makes it all better. And, of course, the computer needs to be on for us to use the phone.

    MagicJack also comes with free caller ID (at least on the computer screen – not sure about using a phone with caller ID or a box) and voicemail – if I don’t answer or if the computer isn’t on, a .wav file (standard audio format) is sent to my email (and, thanks to GMail’s filters, it’s forwarded to my wife’s email too so we can both hear it).

    The best part? I paid them in January and don’t hear from them all year.

  3. Nancy says:

    I don’t deal with it. I just have no landline. Now THAT’S frugal. :-)

  4. David L. says:

    I got rid of my landline years ago. I could not justify paying two phone bills, and I found that I used my cell phone most of the time anyway. As long as I have good cell coverage, I am not going back to a landline.

  5. MasterPo says:

    I have AT&T for long distance and the cost is absurd!! Going to drop it. I rarely make long distance calls. If I need to I’ll use my cell.

    Too bad, I am an AT&T shareholder.

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