Getting “Slammed”

I received a phone call this morning from a man in Rocky Point concerned about a phone scam. He says a bill has started showing up in his AT&T bill from a company called USBI. AT&T gives them FREE long distance…but USBI was charging them FOR long distance. Huh?

If you type in USBI into a Google search…you’ll see a long list of “scam” complaints.

So whats going on? I made some calls…..

USBI is a “third party long distance phone service bill consolidator”…that means….the big service carriers..AT&T, Quest, etc….the government wont allow them to dominate the phone lines…they have to agree to allow small independent companies to compete. Those small companies…like Consumer Telecom…they all work under USBI who sends out their bills to consumers.

The person I spoke with at USBI actually played me the telephone conversation that their representative had with this mans mother…who AUTHORIZED the change. The sales pitch was fast, slick and somewhat confusing…but in the end…she said “Yes.” That negates the “scam” complaint. If you agree to something……well… agreed. They have the recorded conversation to prove it.

But this isn’t always the case. Sometimes these changes in your long distance provider can occur WITHOUT you knowning…its called “slamming.”

Slamming is when you DONT give permission. Here’s more from the FCC:

What Can I Do If I’ve Been Slammed?

If your telephone company has been changed without your permission:

  • If you choose to call the slamming company to request that the problem be fixed, and you have not yet paid, tell the slamming company that you will not pay for the first 30 days of service.
  • Call your authorized company (local or long distance) to inform them of the slam. Tell them that you want to be reinstated to the same calling plan you had before the slam. Tell them that you want all “change of carrier charges” (charges for switching companies) removed from your bill.
  • File a complaint with the appropriate government agency.
  • North Carolina
  • North Carolina Utilities Commission

    Consumer Services Division, Slamming Section
    Public Staff
    4326 Mail Service Center
    Raleigh NC 27699-4326
    (919) 733-9277
    (919) 733-4744 fax


    On-Line Complaint Form or Consumer Information:
    Slamming Complaint Process

    Documentation Needed:
    No fee. Must supply name on account, telephone numbers involved, name of unauthorized and preferred carriers, name of LEC, copy of pages of telephone bill containing unauthorized charge.

If you still have questions:

Contact the FCC’s Consumer Center at 1-888-CALL-FCC (voice) or 1-888-TELL-FCC (TTY).

And please everyone…be careful what you agree to over the phone…if the sales person is talking fast…if you have questions…if it FEELS wierd….ASK those question…ask for more time to make a decision. ASK FOR DOCUMENTATION. Slick phone sales callers will capitalize on your wanting to get off the phone (and get rid of THEM) by trying to get you to say ‘yes, yes, yes, goodbye’… saved time….but you just bought yourself more trouble.

Here’s another little nugge:

All the big phone providers like AT&T KNOW abou these providers and they make money off the arragement…thats what the folks at Consumer Telecom told me. If you have a “bundle” package with a big provider and suddenly agree for someone else to take over your long distance….the big provider will break up your bundle and start charging you separately (and at a higher rate) for each service.



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