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Fraudulent Long Distance Offer
Long Distance Wholesale Club Never Makes Good on Free Calls
In the first half of 1997, the Cagey Consumer received an
offer from Long Distance Wholesale Club
day promising 20 free minutes of interstate
long distance calls.
I was happy to promote this offer on my web site,
because it appeared to be a no-strings-attached offer, with
no monthly fee involved or other purchase required.
While the offer was in place, the web page received about 4000 hits.
When the phone bill came through, although all the calls
were charged at the promised 9.5¢ per minute rate,
there was no indication of a credit for the promised free calls.
Upon calling Long Distance Wholesale Club (aka Telco Communications
Group), I was advised a credit would be issued electronically
and that it could take up to two billing cycles to receive the credit.
Four billing cycles later, I still have no credit, and the story
from Telco is exactly the same.
Customers who accepted this offer should
never have had to call to receive the credit once they
signed up for the offer.
I can only conclude that Telco's failure is
systematic and intentional.
Because the amount at issue is only $1.90 (20 minutes
at 9.5¢ per minute), Telco apparently concluded that
most customers would just forget about the credit, and
few of those that did would remember to call back
every two months.
If you responded to Telco's offer but never received
your credit, I encourage you to send a letter of
Common Carrier Bureau
Stop Code 1600A2
Washington, DC 20554
or follow these
instructions from the FCC.
Here are some of things going into my letter:
Telco Communications Group offered 20 free minutes of calls as part of
a promotional offer under Long Distance Whole Club FCC tarriff #1
& #2 to persons signing up for the offer by calling 800-791-0937.
The phone bills from the local exchange company for May and June 1997
reflected $34.43 in Telco charges plus $1.08 in taxes and
surcharges for calls made using Telco's carrier access code
(10297), but do not reflect any credit for the 20 free minutes
that were promised.
After the May bill arrived, I contacted Telco and was
informed that the credit would appear within two billing cycles,
but as of the September bill, there is still no credit.
This credit should have been automatic, and Telco's repeated
failure to issue a credit leads me to believe that
this failure is willful, and that Telco's initial offer of free
long distance calls was therefore fraudulent.
I request that the FCC order Telco to issue credit
to all customers who signed up for this program but did
not receive the credit they were eligible for,
and to assess substantial penalties against Telco
or order such additional remedies as the FCC deems appropriate.
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