October 19th, 2011 12:57 EST
Customer May Sue AOL over Billing Issue
Steve Skarritt of Katy, Texas, has been billed wrongly by AOL for high-speed internet for about 6 years. Noticing that had been billed, and he paid, for internet service that he had got disconnected years ago. Even after reporting the problem to the concerned departments, his issue is pending and without any progress shown by the responsible company. Will this lead Skarritt to stand in court against AOL? In the following chat with him, Skarritt tells about the latest in his case.
Ernest: Hi Steve, it`s been ten days since your report of the AOL billing issue was published on Digital Journal. Has there been any progress on your complaint since then?
Steve: Yes, they`ve offered me a goodwill credit of $1,247.00 ($21.50 for 58 months) but, it says: [this credit represents the portion of your payment for cable service and taxes ($21.50 per month) from January 1, 2007, through October 13, 2011. We will continue to work with Comcast to recoup the fees we paid them in error.] What about the rest of the $45 they withdrew from my account? To regroup the fees we paid them in error? What a bunch of crap. They do not admit mistake and Comcast has repeatedly told me AOL has paid them nothing and if they had, I wouldn`t have a balance of $111 owed on my account from when I sold that house almost 4 years ago. They wouldn`t be paying me anything at all if there was no mistake.
Ernest: Does AOL hold the position that they are not responsible for the 6-year-long error in billing?
Steve: AOL says there was no error. I`ve sent over 200 emails to executives and employees at AOL showing proof I was paying for Hi-Speed internet the last few months before I sold the house. Comcast has sent pictures of their computer screen to me showing account was in my name. When Time Warner left the area, I was stuck with Dial-Up service. When Comcast came in and offered service, I subscribed to it for a brief period. AOL says billing payments went from Time Warner to Comcast but still has not shown me proof of a single payment to Comcast and that`s all I`ve been asking for. I showed proof of everything from my end and they`ve shown nothing, but told me Bullsh*t. The Fraud Dept. Supervisor said they were still paying Time Warner and they haven`t been in the area for 4 years.
Ernest: Why do you think is AOL not showing any satisfactory action in your case? Do they not want to return your money or are they simply lazy in moving things ahead?
Steve: I think it`s because they have so many customers that if a few of them have a problem, no big deal. It would be major problem if 1% complained, but I don`t think it`s that many, although from what I`ve read, there are a lot. But if you have 5,000,000 customers per say and 1,000 complain, it can be swept under the rug and the company wouldn`t suffer. This is why I`m trying to make this all public. It doesn`t matter how many customers you have, you should do your best to make ALL of them happy. I understand you can`t always make everybody happy; but in a mistake like mine, I would think it should become top priority. Stealing from a consumer is wrong. It might have been overlooked, but once they found out about it, it`s apparent that it is stealing and it should be rectified.
Ernest: One question here, do you think you also have been careless in not reading your bank statements? You could have spotted the problem years ago if you had been careful about details, no?
Steve: I`ve known all along that I was being billed from AOL; that`s not the problem. I thought I was being billed for a business account with a business email. It wasn`t until Sept 26th 2011, when they wanted my account info updated from 2006, that I asked why I was paying so much and was told I was paying for Hi-Speed internet service. It was even available for a period between Time Warner leaving and Comcast moving in.
Ernest: Are you considering going to the court against AOL`s billing problem with you?
Steve: Yes, I am considering it. All they have to do is take care of the problem. I have at least 200 hours involved in this, whether it be in phone calls, emails, research, or questioning. I expect something for the time I have invested now. I`ve had to prove my case and I have done that with nothing at all from them other than lies. It shouldn`t have come to this, but attorney`s fees, court costs, and probably damages would be added not to mention fines that might be imposed. I would take it to District Court, not Small Claims Court, where deals are made in the parking lot. They need to make me a fair offer, whether admitting mistake or not, or it would be very costly to them, many times over what I would expect from them.
Ernest: Billing issues involving AOL have been in the news before. To your knowledge, do other internet service providers also have similar issues?
Steve: From what I`ve read, and it`s a lot, billing issues are way more for AOL than all the other providers combined. I`ve seen about 50 to 1 from other companies.
Ernest: How has the issue with AOL affected you psychologically or professionally?
Steve: The principle of it has, as my wife has termed it, become an obsession. Mentally, just knowing a Billion Dollar Company can treat an individual as bad as I`ve been treated is mental masturbation. I feel like I`ve been beating my head against the wall when it comes to getting AOL to understand they have done wrong. I`ve heard every excuse imaginable sometimes over and over. I`ve even been told that this is a Time Warner problem. Well, Time Warner and Comcast have helped more than AOL, and as far as I`m concerned, that`s a class act. To help someone that`s not their customer more than the customers company baffles me.
Ernest: Do you see the need for a blog or website where Internet customers can report their complaints?
Steve: Yes I do. It would really show how many problems still exist. As a group, a lot more would get done than just an individual. AOL was sued by three State Attorney Generals (maybe more) for this same billing practice they`ve done to me. They have on record rules they agreed to and must abide by in 2007. Not many know of this; I didn`t, until looking into all I`ve found. It was by a court order that these billing problems stop or there will be severe consequences. I just want what`s fair, nothing more.
Ernest: Steve thanks for your time. Please keep us posted on your case.
Steve: Thank you Ernest, you`ve been great.