Loud Music is a $40 Fine

Just my personal blog.

November 2, 2007

Avoid Member’s Edge – Block Third Party Billing

We noticed we were being charged $20 for voice mail on our AT&T bill this month. The only problem is, we turned off voice mail at least a year ago. Turns out it was from a “third party billing company” called ILD Teleservices, AKA Members Edge.

I called the number AT&T gave me to get this “service” canceled (877-448-3232). A recording thanking me for calling Member’s Edge told me my call was important to them and that all of their agents were talking to other Member’s Edge customers. I waited on hold for about 10 minutes, then a beep and silence. I called Member’s Edge back about 30 minutes later, was told again that Member’s Edge considered my call important, and after about another 10 minutes on hold, “Sonya” answered. I explained to her that I’d never heard of Member’s Edge or IDS Teleservices. She explained to me that someone signed up for Member’s Edge. That person turns out to be a guest in my house.

I told her that our guest didn’t have the authority to sign up for anything that would add charges to my bill, but she insisted that didn’t matter; if they put in a birth date that shows they’re over 18 and a mother’s maiden name, that’s enough for them.

After a little back and forth, she offered to issue me two month’s credits. I told her that I had charges for three months and that wasn’t acceptable. She basically told me that was all she could do. So I told her that I’d just not pay the charge on the current bill and they could sue me.

The bottom line here is, if I know your address and phone number, I can go to the Member’s Edge web site and sign you up for stuff you don’t want or need. If I’m unscrupulous, and I work for one of these companies on commission, I could sign up a whole bunch of people and make a ton of money. There’s literally no confirmation done by your phone company that these charges are legitimate. Their system just takes the info from the third party, and if the info matches, they add it to your phone bill.

AT & T does have a free service that will block third party billing, but you first have to even know about it, and second you have to call them and opt in to it. This is backwards. If I want to allow third parties to put charges on my phone bill, then I should have to call the phone company to tell them to allow it. At the very least, I should have to speak to someone at the phone company to verify that I’m signing up for something to be billed to my phone bill.

I’d suggest that everyone call their phone company right now and sign up to block third party billing to prevent companies like IDS Teleservices/Member’s Edge from submitting charges to your phone company. Otherwise you’re leaving yourself open to having to pay for charges for a service you didn’t sign up for. And by all means, read the fine print on these web sites that try to entice you by giving you free things…free until you find out you have to “complete” the sponsors’ offers.

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