My phone bill was a bit more than I expected so I went down to the AT&T store for clarification since it was a new plan this month compared to my previous AT & T plan.
They pointed out a $9.99 charge for this month on a “Flycell club pack” subscription that had also been applied in my previous months’ bill. I asked if this was an AT & T service to which I was told “no?” The rep encouraged me to call AT & T customer service about it and could not tell me what the Flycell Club pack even was.
So I called customer service. The phone rep said that third party companies will send out texts asking for your subscription and if you don’t text “no” they “think” you want the subscription and notify AT & T to bill you on it. He also added that these “subscriptions” work the same way for all carriers (i.e. Verizon, Sprint, etc)
I replied, “How can I billed from a 3rd party on my AT & T account on a subscription I never authorized?” At first, the rep tried to “let me down gently” with the “bad news” that what they were doing was within the text messaging regulations of the SEC (Really? Which politicians got paid off to legalize this scam???)
I then responded by saying “It may be legal, but you guys apparently have a serious hole in your ability to protect your customer when a 3rd party can add a charge to my AT & T account without any authorization on my part. Since when does a “non-answer” to an “unsolicited sales pitch” equal a “yes?” That’s not how the real world works.”
(Apparently there is a “parallel text messaging universe” being created as we speak where businesses can volunteer you to sign you up for their service via your cell phone carrier)
His tune quickly changed and he credited me back my $20 and put a “blocker” on my phone and my wife’s for these type of subscriptions (Why isn’t this a standard feature again?).
I also commented I didn’t even know what service I was paying $10 a month for. The rep looked into it and couldn’t figure it out himself either… Flycell must be really proud of their services that nobody can recognize, notice or articulate.
After getting off the phone I looked thru my text messages for the day the charge was applied including the previous days. Didn’t find a thing. All the texts were from friends. Still don’t know how they got to me (possibly Facebook who also has my number).
After some Internet searching I’ve learned what a Flycell Club Pack is, Flycell’s 800 number takes you to Delhi, Flycell has an online reputation for scamming people (some people up to $19.95 a month for more than a year before realizing it), and Flycell has a multitude of complaints with Consumer Affairs ( http://www.consumeraffairs.com/cell_phones/flycell.html ).
I’m glad I really didn’t lose anything (it’s the principle that has me all fired up), but I’m posting this rant to vent a little and to encourage all of my friends to do two things:
1. Check your phone bill for any misc charges from 3rd party subscriptions including (but not limited to) “Flycell.”
2. No matter what, call up your carrier and add a “blocker” to your phone accounts for these types of ridiculous subscriptions.
Although AT & T eventually provided satisfactory customer service, I find something fishy about the fact that carriers enable this type of transaction. I can only speculate if the carriers make a little money too from this whole setup???
Thanks for letting me vent. God bless America : )