And you thought your teenager’s phone bills are high? Los Angeles resident Ron Dorff is disputing an AT&T bill for $24,298.93.
The 83-year-old—who lives on a monthly $1,530 Social Security check and surfs the net via low-speed AOL dial-up—took his story public, speaking with the LA Times about the confusing struggle to get his phone company to back off.
Accustomed to paying AT&T $51 per month for Internet access, Dorff received a recent statement for $8,596.57.
“I was shocked,” he told the Times. “What the hell was going on?”
It seemed AT&T didn’t know, either. Dorff spoke with a service rep, who appeared just as befuddled as the senior citizen. When the promise of a technician home visit didn’t happen, through, Dorff assumed the problem had magically disappeared. Until he received the next month’s bill. Dorff opened a statement for $15,687.64, bringing his total outstanding debt, including late fees, to $24,298.93, according to the Times.
Another call to a service rep and another scheduled visit finally offered some peace of mind for Dorff, who told the newspaper that the specialist said the problem was with his modem.
However, technical difficulties are apparently not covered in AT&T’s restitution policy, because the company still refused to make the change.
“I told her I couldn’t possibly afford what they wanted,” Dorff said. “She just insisted that I had to pay it. She was very blunt about it.”
That’s when the LA Times stepped in; one phone call from the media institution, and AT&T decided to waive the $24,000. (The timing just a coincidence, AT&T claimed.)
The charges, a company spokesman told PCMag, were due to “our customer not using a local phone number option for dial-up connection to his Internet access provider.”
“We have waived the charges and explained to him how to use a local number to reach his service,” the spokesman said.
According to the Times, the modem started dialing a long-distance number when accessing AOL, racking up per-minute charges as Dorff stayed connected for hours. When the technician visited his home, he reset the local dial-up number, presumably patching the problem.