Monday, August 29, 2011
Help Me Howard: $2,200 Phone
Are you paying for something you dont need or dont use? Maybe a phone line or a service you forgot you had. Now what if you found out something had been paid for 27 years something you dont even have anymore. You would be upset, but what can you do? Lets go to Help me Howard with Patrick Fraser for an answer.
WSVN -- Edward and Agnes have been married for 66 years. Still enjoy each other. Still hold hands when they talk about each other, and still like to joke with each other.
Agnes Bimonte: "I thought he would leave every once in awhile but he never did. I
Edward Bimonte: "It's so good why should I leave."
But as Edward hits 93 and agnes 87 they have slowed down. Their son Jim sees it.
Jim Bimonte: "Well they are getting to the point now that some bills arent getting paid on time. They get misplace bills."
Jim then started paying their bills and noticed this one from a telephone leasing company. So Jim called them.
Jim Bimonte: "I said 'How long has this been going on?' They said "Since January 1st 1984."" I said 'You mean to tell me that they have been paying $21 a quarter for 27 years for a trimline phone?' I said "That translates into over $2,200.""
Agnes had been paying the rent on the phone for 27 years thinking it was a phone bill.
Agnes Bimonte: "I thought it was long distance for my sister. We talk every day."
This is the $2,200 trim line phone. The Bimontes dont even use anymore, and when Jim picked it up, he saw it wasnt the trimline phone from the leasing company. It was a phone bought at Radio Shack
Jim Bimonte: "The original phone that this company says they leased. We dont even know where it is."
Patrick Fraser: "They are actually paying for something that they dont even have anymore."
Agnes doesnt remember when they lost the leased phone and bought the other phone. Needless to say Jim is irritated. Believing the leasing company has taken advantage of his elderly parents.
To add insult to injury, the Bimontes now have to pay the leasing company to replace the 27 year old phone that doesnt even exist anymore after paying $2,200 to lease the phone for the past 27 years.
Jim Bimonte: "To pay $2,200 for a trimline phone is absurd. When I can go buy that phone in a retail store for less than $10."
Jim wants his parents to get their money back. The leasing company says no. So Howard, legally were the Bimontes taken advantage of?
Howard Finkelstein: "No it doesnt seem right, but legally its not wrong. They signed the lease and paid the lease, and even though they are elderly now, unless they cancel, they are still responsible for the phone lease."
When I talked to QLT which bought the phone leasing company from AT&T, they told me that they pride themselves on taking care of their customers. Providing them with phones that are easy to use, and benefits for elderly customers like prescription discounts. That said they would offer the Bimontes an adjustment. In other words, a $84 refund for the last year of the phone lease.
Jim said absolutely not. The companies response: We are at a loss to get this resolved.
Howard Finkelstein: "This could happen to anyone young or old. Todays bills are complicated and hard to understand. I struggle to sort out some bills. Check yours, check your parents. Odds are you might get a surprise."
Agnes and Edward will move on. Pretty healthy, very happy and ready for a few more years of fun with each other.
Agnes Bimonte: "He is in very good shape. I told you he will have another wife.
Edward Bimonte: "I dont think she will let me go."
Patrick Fraser: "Now someone asked us if this is elderly abuse. Not even close. In part because when they leased the phone they were in their 60's. To make it elderly abuse, you have to take advantage of someone. In this case, no one did. The couple just forgot about the phone.
Troubles left your ears ringing? Ready to dial up a solution? Phone it in. Let us try to give you new lease on life that you wont forget.