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Saving Pennies… Wasting Dollars

Today I received an automated email that my cell phone bill was available for viewing. I know this is going to sound rather odd, but I almost never look at the phone bill. Our phone bill is usually over 15 pages long. It contains all of the calls and text messages we’ve made and received over the month. Some months we make more calls then others, so each month the total we owe is entirely unique.

Today the bill seemed rather large so I decided to take a peak at it. Sure enough, at the bottom of the 15 page bill I found an unexplained charge for $9.99. I called AT&T and a very cordial and polite representative told me my our cell phone had been set up for a subscription service. Neither my husband or I remember signing up for the service, but nonetheless it cost $9.99 a month. I asked that the service be cancelled and the charges refunded. A few minutes later the representative let me know that our bill will be refunded by $19.98. (Charges for the last two months.) I thanked her and hung up the phone.

I decided to look through the last six months of bills and found that the subscription service had been established back in November, so we have been paying an extra $9.99 a month for a service that we didn’t know we had and don’t want. I called back AT&T to ask for credit for the last six months, but the representative told me they can’t credit charges on bills that are more than two months old.

The moral to this story is clear: read your bills before you pay them. Okay, lesson learned. But as I was thinking through the issue I found it rather comical that on one hand I am typing the ISBNs of my books into an online database in an effort to recoup lost costs, while I’m simultaneously paying for a service that I do not use. Sometimes I find myself trying to save pennies when I am in fact wasting dollars.


Monday 25th of October 2010

My grandmother actually had the same problem with AT&T! I've never heard of this happening to anyone else before reading your post, but earlier this year, I was trying to help my grandmother cut some of her costs on her bills. On her AT&T bill, I noticed TWO charges that she couldn't explain. I called up AT&T, and they told me they couldn't tell me what the charges were, that I'd have to call the company that has been charging her. I called, and one of the companies even had the NAME wrong! The service was registered under a totally different name than my grandmother's but was being charged to her phone number. In both cases, I had the subscriptions canceled and refunded entirely. She had been paying for one for eight months! It's so important to check your bill detail.

One Frugal Girl

Friday 2nd of May 2008

@kansas mom -- how do you get the details of the doctor's claims? I rarely see details like the codes you mentioned. Do you have to ask for these specifically, and who do you ask the insurance company or the doctor?

Kansas Mom

Tuesday 29th of April 2008

I'm a stickler and always read over all my statements (even the ones online). I've caught a few things, but the biggest have all been on doctor's bills. I've had lots of things typed in incorrectly. Since billing offices use codes, a little type (3 instead of 4) can make a big difference in the charge. Most people probably don't notice or just let the insurance pay it, but since we have a 20% copay, it makes a big difference for us (and I think it's only fair the insurance company pay for services actually rendered).

punk cents

Wednesday 23rd of April 2008

i'm going through something similar with sprint, though i wouldn't have ever caught the fees if they hadn't redesigned their statements. two months ago, the brand new statement arrived and highlighted that we have been paying taxes on our cell phones for two states and had been doing this for almost a year! sprint has 'opened a claim' on our account to look into it, but i have a sneaking suspicion that the money is long gone. lesson begrudgingly learned indeed.

One Frugal Girl

Tuesday 22nd of April 2008

@rachel -- We do read our credit card bills in detail, but thanks for the heads up on insurance. I've never heard of that before.

@drip investments -- That's an interesting point, although my online bills are now more accessible, I seem to read through them less often. But I certainly learned my lesson this time. There is nothing that irks me more than paying for something I do not want!

For those of you who read your statements from cover to cover like fabulously broke... kudos... For those of you who don't you might want to start glancing over them. You might find misc. charges like I did.