TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Re: Giant Conspiracy or Just Rotten Luck?

Re: Giant Conspiracy or Just Rotten Luck?

Tony P. (
Thu, 20 Oct 2005 17:41:48 -0400

In article <>,

> William Warren wrote:

>> I suggest you take these steps, and ignore any demand that you deal
>> with only one person and/or agency:

> [snipped]

> I know it's a lot of work, but Mr. Warren's advice is excellent.

> Another poster wrote:

>> I wonder if there's a forgotten bridge tap off your pair somewhere.

> Many years ago this happened to us, except it was our calls being
> billed to someone else. (We reported it to cover our butts). A few
> months later they discovered the error. The billed party, a business
> customer, had been screaming about the calls, but the phone co at
> first refused to do anything since they claimed it could've been any
> employee. Finally they did a physical check in the CO and found the
> wiring error.

> In thinking about it, I wonder if the business customer got billed for
> our message units as well. We had message rate service though we were
> pretty careful to stay within the monthly allotment. (Flash forward
> to today -- we went to flat rate service, then Metropolitan Area flat
> rate, and now have national unlimited.)

Oh it gets better than that. Firmly into the DMS-100 era I had moved
back into the capitol city and informed then Nynex of the move. Got my
new number assigned and the line was installed, I signed for it and my
service was working.

Well -- a month goes by and no bill. Hmmm. Another month goes by and
still no bill. This went on for a year. All through that year I'd call
Nynex and tell them my phone number and they'd say there was no record
of it.

Finally after a year of trying they accepted my word for it and set it
up as an account. I paid them something like $150 or so for the
service and all was said and done.

But then I wasn't getting billed for my long distance calls.

About 6 months later I found out why. At the time I had 401-273-0716
and the local VA hospital had and still has 401-273-7016. A
transposition of two digits was billing all my long distance calls to
the VA hospital.

I found out because a friend in New Jersey knew of my phone phreak
ways and called and asked how I'd managed to hack in to the VA's phone
system. At that point I'd moved and got a new number so that ended

Nynex still used paper records that were sent from plant to
billing. My paperwork mysteriously got lost. Imagine.

[TELECOM Digest Editor's Note: This same thing happened once to me
also, in 1975-76. I was living in an apartment hotel on the near north
side of Chicago. Although the building (like many such places in those
times) has a switchboard serving tenant apartments, many tenants also
had their own private telephones, as did I. My _private_ phone was put
in about a month after I moved into the building, but Illinois Bell
never did get around to sending me a bill. Not for about a year. When
I finally realized what was going on, I took a couple steps to _insure_
the status would not change: The line was set up as 'unlimited call
pack' meaning there would never be any charges for extra units. I did
not _ever_ make any long distance calls on that line, so there would
never be any 'coin-rated' calls, or reason for any tickets to get
written up to later 'fall out' in billing when the account could not
be found anywhere. That worked fine, and got me by for several months;
I suppose most of a year.

Then one day, some $#%%#$ phreak had the audacity to give _my_ number
for billing on some fraud credit card he was using. Sure enough,
before long the charges came though the system to the accounting
department; when no account could be found (because plant had never
submitted a copy of the order to accounting after they turned me on),
the charge fell out, and went into the suspense ledger, sat there for
a month or two until some overworked telco investigator who spent all
of her days tracking down charges like this got around to working on
the one charge which was 'mine'. Assuming there is no folio, or
ledger for the number (which usually means no such number) the
investigator tried a different approach, _actually dialing the number._
Instead of getting the usual tones and the 'number not in service'
message which she expected, in this case the number actually rang,
(although no answer because I was not at home), and therefore the
number _was_ in service. She called plant and asked when the paperwork
would come through, not expecting to be told it had gone through (but
apparently gotten lost or not actually submitted) a _year prior_. Well!

Investigator promptly writes up a bill for me for service for the
past year, plus the usual month in advance, plus the requested
security deposit. I get it in the mail a couple days later along with
the long distance charge the phreak had charged to my bill. I called
my service rep, tried to act indignant, etc and asked my rep to please
write off all these charges on account of you never billed me to start
with. Miss Prissy (my favorite rep, who I always seemed to get) said
to me no deal ... "because, Mr. Townson, you _knew_ what was happening.
You knew that was a mistake you hoped we would not find." She finally
agreed "I will let you have two or three months to raise the money and
pay the bill; there are many reps here who would place you in
collection immediatly, but yeah, it was partly our fault (although you
could have told us sooner and not let us find it on our own), so I
will give you two or three months to clear it all up. Oh, and I will
remove the security deposit requirement; you've had the phone for
about a year now; I'll also write off the long distance charge which
was put on your bill by the phreak." I was ill in a position to
argue with her that much, or act too indignant. PAT]

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