Mistakes happen. Whether it’s your personal life or business dealings, we’re all human and no one is perfect. However, it seems certain screw ups are more apt to happen in certain industries and no matter how many times they rear their ugly head, nothing seems to change. Internet billing errors fall into this category.
We know that studies show up to 80 percent of telecom bills contain errors: we recover tens of thousands of dollars a year for our clients because of it. It’s something that usually flies under the radar – the vast majority of people and companies being overbilled never realize it – but every once and awhile an example makes the news.
ArsTechnica shared an outrageous story this week about an IT consultant who was sent to collections after dutifully paying his Comcast bills. You read that right. He had collection agencies sicced on him even though he wasn’t in arrears.
Ken Mueller has spent the last year and a half trying to deal with the mistakes, which happened after he moved twice in three months. During one of those moves, Comcast didn’t link his account with the new location and continued billing him for the disconnected service at his old address.
Because Mueller paid his bills through automatic withdrawal, Comcast happily took money out of his account to cover the phantom costs. He disabled the payments and was told by a customer service rep that all would be well and the issue would be fixed. This sounded great, until Mueller started getting the collection notices.
He estimates he’s spent over 10 hours on the phone with Comcast reps trying to resolve the problem. It’s finally been made right after the recent media intervention. And even though Mueller knew something was wrong and had all the documentation (and smarts) to back it up, he was still unable to clear it up on his own.
“One time someone said, ‘you didn’t fill out a move form,’ and I said, ‘yes I did, in fact I have a copy and here it is,’” Mueller told ArsTechnica. “It would be one thing if I had made a mistake, but I didn’t. It’s frustrating that the onus is on me to fix their mistake, the bug in their system that they can’t figure out.”
Comcast’s customer service is notoriously poor, so much so that a senior vice president of customer experience was appointed last year. It has pledged a $300 million investment, and the hiring of 5,500 new employees, in an effort to improve its interactions with subscribers.
The billing error in this case isn’t uncommon. We frequently encounter similar situations where our clients are still paying for services that were disconnected years ago. It can be difficult to keep tabs on your communications inventory, especially when you’re busy focusing on other areas of your business. It’s worth having someone do a thorough audit – it can save you plenty of money, and some big headaches, down the road.