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Check your bills ... once again [4 August 1998]

From a correspondent.

I received my CWC bill (for July) this morning. As usual, I opened the bill and glanced at the list for any strange-looking calls and found that I had calls made in March itemised. Very surprised, I scanned the rest of the bill and I found calls being charged in this bill for the months March through to July. A good few of them were to my ISP number, which is a Videotron number, and some others were to the mobile phone networks. I telephoned Customer Services and was told that this sort of practise is legitimate.

I pay my CWC bill every month by Direct Debit. To my mind, each month's bill CWC sends to me covers all the TV and telephone services that I have used for that month. Customer Services continued to say that, on rare occasions, some of the other operators fail to charge CWC correctly for some calls made by CWC customers using their networks and charge CWC later when they catch up with those missing calls. CWC then pass on the call charges.

I find this hard to believe. My bill has one side of itemised calls from Cellnet and BT. According to CWC all of these operators have failed to correctly notify CWC of calls made from my number.

Customer Services went on to say that other operators can claim for these unpaid calls up to six months after they were made and that this was standard practice. I commented that, if it was standard practice, why was I not notified? I would find it impossible to query calls I may or may not have paid for up to six months ago. Customer Services repeated their speech and offered to send a note to the billing department so that they would send a letter to me regarding their procedures on this matter. I asked what the procedure was for former Videotron customers and received a dismissive 'I don't know about that' in reply.

All I can recommend is that this is something else to check each month; I make calls regularly to BT, Orange, Ionica and Cellnet and have been billed promptly. Given that I have never been told of this problem before, should it be classified as 'one more glitch' ... ?

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Text by Alastair Scott

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