Monday, October 15, 2007
Help Me Howard: Big phone bill
Going over on your cell phone minutes can get expensive, but when one South Florida woman got a bill for $11,000 she was floored. Especially, since the phone was reported stolen a month earlier. Does she have to pay up? The answer in tonight's Help me Howard with Patrick Fraser.
WSVN -- Jessica Londono: "Its actually wonderful working here, its so calming, instead of feeling like you are stuck in a cubicle, in an office. You have the open air."
Jessica's job is enough to make you want to change careers.
Jessica Londono: "We do yacht charters and sales. We do have a lot of high rollers, we have a couple of celebrities that come through us and a lot of local celebrities as well."
But just because Jessica charters yachts for millionaires, doesn't mean she is one or lives like one.
Jessica Londono: "My problem is I just got hit with an $11,000 phone bill."
You don't need a hearing aide. This is the cell phone bill for one month totaling $11,000.
Jessica Londono: "When I heard the balance I thought she said $1,100, and I was already appalled. When she reinstated the fact that it was 11,000 my jaw dropped to the ground. I didn't even know what to say to that."
Jessica and her sister have both their phones on one account. After her sister's phone disappeared in July they turned that phone off. But in early August, someone called the phone company, turned it back on and put their fingers to work.
Jessica Londono: "Honduras, Honduras, Spain, Spain, Honduras, I mean he used it everywhere, Naples, West Palm Beach. He called everyone he knows."
Jessica insists her sister didn't make the calls.
Jessica Londono: "She's 16, 17 years-old, she knows no one."
And she says she certainly didn't burn up the line to Honduras.
Jessica Londono: "I promise, I swear on everything, my life, I don't know anyone in Honduras. I know they sell bananas."
But when Jessica refused to pay the bill, her phone was turned off.
Jessica Londono: "Its quite embarrassing when you are in the yacht business and someone calls and your phone has been disconnected."
The phone company did tell Jessica pay $5,500 half the bill and they would turn her phone back on. She said no and tried to prove they didn't make those calls.
Jessica Londono: "I've spoken to managers. I've spoken to the same four people. Fraud department, customer service, high balance, collections, and no one wants to help me.
And when you reach the bottom of the barrel, there is only one number to call for Help me Howard. How does Jessica prove she and her sister didn't run up an $11,000 bill.
Howard Finkelstein: "She doesn't have to prove that she did not make the calls. All she has to do is show that she notified the phone company that it was stolen, than it's up to the phone company to make sure they are dealing with the customer before they turn it back on."
A representative for the cell phone company told us, whoever turned the phone back on knew the last four digits of Jessica's social security number and her full name.
They also said Jessica didn't give them a police report for the missing phone. When we faxed them our copy of the police report, they wiped out the bill eliminated the $11,000 in charges and turned Jessica's phone back on. They also offered to pay for the temporary cell phone Jessica has been using for work.
Howard says anyone with a cell phone needs to know a few things.
Howard Finkelstein: "First of all, notify the police right away. That police report helps protect you and helps convince the phone company that you are a victim and not trying to make free phone calls."
With the bill wiped out and her phone back on, Jessica can get back to the fun stuff, the boat business.
Jessica Londono: "Help me Howard saved the day. Help me Howard totally saved me from bad credit. Help me Howard completely just resolved all issues."
Patrick Fraser: If your phone disappears even if you think you just misplaced it. Notify the phone company immediately because if you don't and it's is stolen and someone makes calls you have the pay the bill until the day it's reported stolen.
Getting disconnected when you make calls for help. Try dialing us up, you won't get a busy signal we may be a little foggy, but our phone lines are clear.
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