Monday, April 16, 2012
Help Me Howard: Overpayment Refunds
She paid for cable and Internet service for months before realizing she was being charged for Internet twice. Now she wants her money back. Here is tonight's Help me Howard with Patrick Fraser.
WSVN -- If you are one of those people who never wants to retire, then cover your ears for a few seconds as Margaret talks.
Margaret Culpepper, Billed Twice: "It's great. It's wonderful. I don't know how I ever worked. I think it's my calling. I should have been retired all my life."
Margaret loves spending more time with her children and grandchildren. And Margaret has time in retirement to check on those detailed bills- like the one from her phone company.
Margaret Culpepper: "I had been overcharged."
Margaret started compiling her phone bills, going back to 2009. She has U-Verse and a separate landline. And on each one, it turns out, she was charged for the same Internet service.
Margaret Culpepper: "I had no idea."
Do the math. Margaret had paid $20.95 for 20 months for the extra Internet line.
Margaret Culpepper: "The amount is for $439."
Margaret asked the phone representative when she could expect her $439 refund. And she was told you won't get it back.
Margaret Culpepper: "It's my responsibility. It's my fault and it was not their policy to provide a refund."
Margaret admits she should have caught this double charge for the Internet. But she says, AT&T needs to accept some responsibility as well.
Margaret Culpepper: "I would never keep money if I had overcharged someone. I would give back money that is not mine."
And Margaret says as a retiree you realize you have more spare time, but less spare change.
Margaret Culpepper: "To me, $439 to me is a sizable amount. It's enough to call Help me Howard."
Well Howard, if you overpay a company for nearly 20 months, do they have to return your money?
Howard Finkelstein: "Yes they do because of what the law calls "unjust enrichment". In other words, the law will not allow you to collect money that you did not earn. There is a time limit- you can only go back 4 or 5 years, depending on the contract."
We then spoke to AT&T, and to be blunt, we were stunned. They didn't just return Margaret's $439. Instead, they gave her $100 off her next bill and then $59.05 off her bill for the next 12 months. A total refund of $808.
Margaret Culpepper: "I am astounded."
As for their refund policy, an AT&T spokesman told me, "We review them on a case by case basis."
Margaret Culpepper: "The generosity of the people with whom I spoke."
Margaret was very happy with AT&T and those guys from the little TV station in South Florida as well.
Margaret Culpepper: "Yes I am grateful to Help me Howard because this would not have happened without your group and your fine people."
Patrick Fraser: "You hear that? She called us fine. Oh she meant Howard. We do the work, the lawyer gets the credit. Anyway, whether you get your bills in the mail or in emails, every once in awhile, take the time to read them thoroughly. You may see mistakes or find you are paying for something you no longer need.
Troubles left your ears ringing? Ready to hang up and get help? Contact us. We won't charge you once or twice. We're free and worth it at that price.
CONTACT HELP ME HOWARD:
EMAIL: email@example.com (Please include your contact phone number when emailing)
REPORTER: Patrick Fraser at firstname.lastname@example.org