At&t let a third party charge me $9.99 without my consent

Mentor

At&t let a third party charge me $9.99 without my consent

I got a spam SMS from 31850 asking me to sign up for some quiz, I just ignored it, I've always heard not to reply 'STOP' to spamers because then they know your number is real and being spammers they don't care what you reply. I've seen messages on this board where people reply 'STOP' and it does no good.

 

Anyway, I just got my bill and AT&T let this "third party" (it's in quotes because they have to be in cahoots with at&t for this to happen) charge me $9.99 for their subscription. I don't have time to deal with it now but I'll probably have to take time out of my day monday call At&t.

 

I usually don't get upset over stuff but I can't believe that AT&T lets someone sign me up for a  $9.99 a month charge without consent, without a password or pin or an email or anything.

 

By the way, you are all now signed up for my subscription service.  Please read this sentence to confirm.

 

Message 1 of 94 (16,673 Views)
Former Community Manager
Solution
Accepted by ATTJulieCS (Community Support)
‎09-30-2015 1:39 AM

Re: At&t let a third party charge me $9.99 without my consent

[ Edited ]

Hey folks, 

 

There's a lot of heated discussion around this and I want to step in with a couple key points. 

 

First and foremost - these forums are here to help. I know topics like this can get people frustrated and heated but this is a community of peers and courtesy is imperative. Please keep in mind that everyone here is here to help or to get help. This is not a place for name calling and nastiness. 

 

Secondly - Scammers like those talked about in this thread typically use confusing jargon and sneaky tactics to get you signed up for their service. 

 

The best defense you have against these companies is to make sure that purchase blocker is applied to each phone line. This is a free service and will not allow 3rd party purchases to be made against your account; regardless of if you (or a family member) accidentally agree to terms and conditions from these companies. 

 

Here is a post from earlier this year that provides more information about purchase blocker and how to prevent 3rd party charges: http://forums.att.com/t5/Wireless-Billing/3rd-Party-Subscriptions-amp-Purchase-Blocker/td-p/3095123

--------------

As of May 1st, I am no longer serving as the Community Manager for AT&T. This account will no longer be able to accept private messages.

Did a post have a solution that worked for you? Help other people find solutions faster by marking posts that helped you as an "Accepted Solution". Learn about accepted solutions here.

I am an AT&T employee and the postings on this site are my own and don’t necessarily represent AT&T’s position, strategies or opinions.
Message 76 of 94 (5,051 Views)
Tutor

Re: At&t let a third party charge me $9.99 without my consent

My best advice is to drop the archaic form of communication known as SMS/MMS.  Use your wallet to speak to AT&T and others of its ilk.  If you have a smartphone it is almost entirely redundant to have that form of communication.  I personally have SMS/MMS features on my line blocked, I do not have any desire to pay for an unneeded service.  

 

Google Voice is a great alternative.  I use it as a secondary number and provide it to persons that I may not want contacting me directly on my wireless phone number.  I also use it to send/receive text messages.  Visual voice mail (transcribed) and easily accessible through the application is also an amazing benefit.  There are some limitations, but it has met my needs.

 

It is a sad state throughout the service provider industry, their business models are designed to make profits from its customers. They rarely put out more than minimal effort in providing those services to the satisfaction of the customer.  

 

In direct response to this discussion the key part of the agreement terms is the following:

 

"Any information you involuntarily or voluntarily provide to third parties is governed by their policies or terms."

 

The above and prior related responses, from the ACE - Grand Master and ACE - Professor, to me are prime examples of the great divide seen between customer and business.  That single sentence, comes across as uncaring and lazy, shrugging off all responsibilty to the customer, despite the wireless provider being the medium with which part of this "billing process" takes place.

 

A real world example of this would be somewhat similar to a local business having a customer "tab", but not requiring any ID to use it.  Some anonymous person could come into the place of business request a service or product and just say put it on my "tab" by only providing a name (phone number).  As a customer I would out right refuse to have any association with a business with such an obvious security flaw.  

 

Services and features that potentially could have a cost risk, be it financial or personal information, should be automatically opt-out.  Social media is a perfect example of how bad it can get, with nearly all options to share personal information having an automatic opt-in.  A person should not have to research or wait until the worst case happens to discover that there was an undesirable service/feature that has cost them privacy or financial loss.  

 

It should be, I am buying what I see in front of me and not a presentation of pretty fluff on the outside and deadly spores hidden in the small print.

Message 77 of 94 (4,980 Views)
Expert

Re: At&t let a third party charge me $9.99 without my consent

[ Edited ]

clonalvex wrote:

My best advice is to drop the archaic form of communication known as SMS/MMS.  Use your wallet to speak to AT&T and others of its ilk.  If you have a smartphone it is almost entirely redundant to have that form of communication.  I personally have SMS/MMS features on my line blocked, I do not have any desire to pay for an unneeded service.  

 

Google Voice is a great alternative.  I use it as a secondary number and provide it to persons that I may not want contacting me directly on my wireless phone number.  I also use it to send/receive text messages.  Visual voice mail (transcribed) and easily accessible through the application is also an amazing benefit.  There are some limitations, but it has met my needs.

 

It is a sad state throughout the service provider industry, their business models are designed to make profits from its customers. They rarely put out more than minimal effort in providing those services to the satisfaction of the customer.  

 

In direct response to this discussion the key part of the agreement terms is the following:

 

"Any information you involuntarily or voluntarily provide to third parties is governed by their policies or terms."

 

The above and prior related responses, from the ACE - Grand Master and ACE - Professor, to me are prime examples of the great divide seen between customer and business.  That single sentence, comes across as uncaring and lazy, shrugging off all responsibilty to the customer, despite the wireless provider being the medium with which part of this "billing process" takes place.

 

A real world example of this would be somewhat similar to a local business having a customer "tab", but not requiring any ID to use it.  Some anonymous person could come into the place of business request a service or product and just say put it on my "tab" by only providing a name (phone number).  As a customer I would out right refuse to have any association with a business with such an obvious security flaw.  

 

Services and features that potentially could have a cost risk, be it financial or personal information, should be automatically opt-out.  Social media is a perfect example of how bad it can get, with nearly all options to share personal information having an automatic opt-in.  A person should not have to research or wait until the worst case happens to discover that there was an undesirable service/feature that has cost them privacy or financial loss.  

 

It should be, I am buying what I see in front of me and not a presentation of pretty fluff on the outside and deadly spores hidden in the small print.


Really - you might wnt to check your "facts" SMS messaging is at a all time high with all the social sites around, currently estimated at a 142 BILLION sms/mms message sent a year  and that is only numbers for the US - does not seem to be as "archaic" as you assume.

Bottom line - read each and every line of the terms of service that the "free" sites send you when you download that "free" wallpaper, ringtone or picture, or take that "free" quiz on the social media sites, those swarmy companies use a multitude of tricks and word games to get you to agree to the charges, some even word it so that if don't respond to the terms you agree to teh charges.

 

It is no one's fault but the end user if they don;t read what they are agreeing to before they try to get something for nothing - TANSTAAFL - There ain;t no such thing as a free lunch. If the offer or "freebie" looks to good to be true - it probably is and there are hidden catches in the terms.

 

Call att or what ever carrier you use and request the free purchase block on the line, be pro-active instead of reactive. Sorry but it is not a "It is a sad state throughout the service provider industry, their business models are designed to make profits from its customers." - that is the business model of any for profit company, I don;t run my business as a charity, I run it to make money for myself and to be able to pay my employees, this is not jjust in the carrier provider business model, but it is universal in every business model in the universe - we are not in it for the warm fuzzy feeling and the "fun" of running a business. We are in it to make money.

 

the test that is int he agreement - aka  involuntarily is in there to cover a companies options when the end user decides NOT to read and understand what they are seeing, aka the majority of people that try to grab the "free" item or anser the innocent quiz

Message 78 of 94 (4,968 Views)
Tutor

Re: At&t let a third party charge me $9.99 without my consent


wingrider01 wrote:

Really - you might wnt to check your "facts" SMS messaging is at a all time high with all the social sites around, currently estimated at a 142 BILLION sms/mms message sent a year  and that is only numbers for the US - does not seem to be as "archaic" as you assume.

Bottom line - read each and every line of the terms of service that the "free" sites send you when you download that "free" wallpaper, ringtone or picture, or take that "free" quiz on the social media sites, those swarmy companies use a multitude of tricks and word games to get you to agree to the charges, some even word it so that if don't respond to the terms you agree to teh charges.

It is no one's fault but the end user if they don;t read what they are agreeing to before they try to get something for nothing - TANSTAAFL - There ain;t no such thing as a free lunch. If the offer or "freebie" looks to good to be true - it probably is and there are hidden catches in the terms.

Call att or what ever carrier you use and request the free purchase block on the line, be pro-active instead of reactive. Sorry but it is not a "It is a sad state throughout the service provider industry, their business models are designed to make profits from its customers." - that is the business model of any for profit company, I don;t run my business as a charity, I run it to make money for myself and to be able to pay my employees, this is not jjust in the carrier provider business model, but it is universal in every business model in the universe - we are not in it for the warm fuzzy feeling and the "fun" of running a business. We are in it to make money.

the test that is int he agreement - aka  involuntarily is in there to cover a companies options when the end user decides NOT to read and understand what they are seeing, aka the majority of people that try to grab the "free" item or anser the innocent quiz


In the context of my post, I do not see where I claimed to be presenting any "facts".  As in your signature, my post is purely my opinion that I am sharing from my perspective and experience.

 

SMS messaging is not "archaic" in its purpose, of which is communication.  Rather it is an antiquated mess when it comes to functionality at the user end.  When I first experienced issues with receiving unsolicited text messages, it was on a pay per message fee system.  As a consumer that is highly concious of unnecessary financial costs, this greatly disturbed me.  At the time (and I am not aware that if it has changed or not, because I don't use it) text messages were auto-retrieved with no option to look at what is available (inbox - web based email).  All messages are retrieved regardless of who sent them.  So I was unable to visually filter out unsolicited messages, before incurring the cost of any message of being marked as received by the wireless provider.  This quickly led me on a course to disregard text messaging as a useful form of communication, if there was going to be a continuous potential for financial cost or need to micromanage everything I did on that medium.  Of course decent service providers no longer charge for incoming messages (even better ones don't count incoming calls).

 

With smartphones, there are so many alternative forms of communication.  I barely have a need to even make calls, maybe averaging 30-40 minutes a month of my family plan.  Which is the second part of why SMS is "archaic", the pricing model.  Why is it such simple form of communication costs so much?  Is there truly such a great burden on the service provider to support this function?  If so, then this would lead me to believe that how SMS operates is highly inefficient, as it is only transporting very small packages of "data".  Yes I did mention "data", why has there been no advancement in this form of communication that would allow it to be calculated into the data usage of the customer?

 

Lastly my key purpose in highlighting "involuntarily", was to point at the obvious issue that there exists entities who have malicious intent to use such a billing process to steal.  I am not sure if anywhere in your responses did you acknowledge a true understanding of some of posters concerns, "They did not voluntarily nor with any intent access or provide any information to a third party, with which a binding agreement is formed to charge a fee for a service or product via this form billing."

 

This scenario should not even occur. As, I have stated a premium function of billing third party services/products via this method, should be a delibarate request from the customer to the service provider.  The customer should not have to request an additional feature, regardless of it being at no cost, to block this purchase functionality.  When subscribing to a service, only what is the basic functionality of that service should be provided, any special functionality should have a choice to opt-in.

Message 79 of 94 (4,926 Views)
Tutor

Re: At&t let a third party charge me $9.99 without my consent

Why do we have to ASK For the purchase blocker? Why can't AT&T proactively address a situation that they are facilitating that impacts THOUSANDS of their customers.  I have been surfing the net all day and have found literally thousands of complaints about this phenomenon. Yet, when I called Customer Service AND got escalated to a manager she claimed she had never heard of anyone havingf this issue.  REDICULOUS. 

 

 Kudso to AT&T for creating a free purchase blocker service to help customers avoid this. SHAME ON THEM for not properly educating their customers about this peril, providing the service proactively to their customers which would avoid the situation entirely and/or helping to identify and cut ties with companies that perpetuate this shameless revenue stream of which I am certain AT&T gets a cut.

Message 80 of 94 (4,574 Views)

Re: At&t let a third party charge me $9.99 without my consent

Exactly!

 

I just discovered possibly 15 months of charges by these crammers. I usually pay my bill with the convenient iPhone app, so didn't notice anything awry until I looked at the paper bill today. My wife had been complaining about annoying spam text messages, but I had no idea we were being charged for them. 

 

Well, after several calls, and a wide variety of differing information, I was finally told I would be credited for a month. Then two months. Nothing more, according to AT&T reps, could be done—I'm out hundreds of dollars. 

 

Neither my wife or I EVER opted into any of the garbage she was charged for. When she would see a spam message, she would delete it. That should be ALL that is required for anyone. 

 

I asked if AT&T ever investigated the 3rd party companies it deals with. Nope. Repeatedly, I was told there is nothing—nada—AT&T can do to dump or otherwise ban the many notorious crammer companies (and all it takes is 5 minutes on the web to document their sleazy, and illegal, tactics). Really? Somehow a huge corporation like AT&T can't take the time to vet sleazy companies with documented unethical and illegal tactics from using AT&T's NETWORK to prey upon its customers? You'll have to pardon me if I refuse to believe that. And I find it interesting that the crammer charges are listed as "AT&T Monthy Subscriptions" on my bill. Not "Third Party Subscriptions" but "AT&T Monthly Subscriptions." Which is probably one of the reasons I skimmed over them in the past. Hmmm.

 

Now think about this—I'm probably typical of many customers who pay online or who fail to scrutinize every item in their bill (a mistake I will *never* make again, obviously). So I have many months of charges, at $30/month, that I have paid to AT&T—charges I did not agree to, sign up for, or authorize. But AT&T now refuses to reimburse me for the money stolen (let's not mince words) by predatory, lying, sleazy companies using AT&T's network AND billing system. So, what does that mean? It means AT&T is keeping my money. There's no simpler way to put it. 

 

I'd like to refer everyone to this article:

http://columbiachronicle.com/cellphone-bills-new-frontier-for-fraud/

 

Here's the conclusion of John Breyault, vice president of public policy, telecommunications and fraud for the National Consumers League:

 

Although many customers are charged for services they have not purchased, wireless service providers do not seek to end the practice because they also profit from it, according to Breyault.

 

“Unfortunately, all three of the players have a financial interest in making sure that the system continues as it is because they all get a cut of what consumers pay,” Breyault said.

 

Isn't that interesting? 

 

So, sorry for anyone defending the behavior of AT&T in regards to these predatory crammers using AT&T's network and billing system—this absolutely stinks, and I have contacted the FCC, FTC, my state's attorney general's office, and a legal firm. This is not how a world-class telecommunications company should treat its customers (and I've been with AT&T for years, with multiple iPhones and iPads). No, this is a textbook example of how a company alienates and loses its customers. If I don't get a decent resolution—and more importantly, if I don't see some action taken against 3rd party sleazebag crammers—I will close my account and encourage everyone I know to do the same. 

Message 81 of 94 (4,232 Views)

Re: At&t let a third party charge me $9.99 without my consent

I also must add I was insulted when an AT&T rep told me I or my wife must have opted in to the crammer's service. That ABSOLUTELY is not the case. If I or my wife receive a spam email and charges start appearing on my bill—despite the fact that neither of us did anything other than delete the spam—that is NOT in any way agreeing to the spammer/crammer's invitation. Period. AT&T should actively and aggressively target any 3rd party that says otherwise. I can't understand how anyone can think I'm "opting in" to paying someone just because they send me an unwanted message and demand I reply "stop" or do anything other than delete their unwanted intrusion.

It's time for AT&T to do the right thing and eliminate 3rd party billing unless a customer OPTS-IN, not the other way around... and to aggressively purge any company caught cramming. Otherwise AT&T cannot complain if people (like myself) assume that the money made from association with crammers is more important than protecting customers from predatory thieves.
Message 82 of 94 (4,216 Views)
Former Community Manager

Re: At&t let a third party charge me $9.99 without my consent

I am sorry that you had this experience and I appreciate your very thorough feedback. 

 

I'm going to pass your thoughts on to some other folks because I think you'd captured the concerns other people have expressed in a very concise way. 

--------------

As of May 1st, I am no longer serving as the Community Manager for AT&T. This account will no longer be able to accept private messages.

Did a post have a solution that worked for you? Help other people find solutions faster by marking posts that helped you as an "Accepted Solution". Learn about accepted solutions here.

I am an AT&T employee and the postings on this site are my own and don’t necessarily represent AT&T’s position, strategies or opinions.
Message 83 of 94 (4,190 Views)
Expert

Re: At&t let a third party charge me $9.99 without my consent

Interesting reading on this - the carriers do give the opt out for 3rd party billing

 

http://newsroom-magazine.com/2012/government-agencies/federal-trade-commission/ftc-formally-recommen...

 

http://www.consumeraffairs.com/news04/2012/07/ftc-wireless-phone-bill-cramming-is-significant-consum...

 

Anotehr point, if you block 3rd party billing it should also block purcahses from googleplay or what ever android is using for it's app delivery method

Message 84 of 94 (4,182 Views)
Teacher

Re: At&t let a third party charge me $9.99 without my consent

Agreed, Michael. Many people here have been making the same point. It is indeed pleasing to see that @jamileh read and appeared to appreciate your post.
Message 85 of 94 (4,162 Views)

Re: At&t let a third party charge me $9.99 without my consent

[ Edited ]

Thank you, Jamileh. I appreciate your assistance. I've been very happy with AT&T for the many years I've been with them (since I bought my first iPhone). This is the first time I've ever had an issue. I hope it can be resolved quickly. But even more importantly, I hope this might get the company to address the cramming issue and aggressively disassociate itself from these disreputable thieves. 

 

Thanks again. 

Message 86 of 94 (4,146 Views)
Highlighted
Expert

Re: At&t let a third party charge me $9.99 without my consent


michaelmhughes wrote:

Thank you, Jamileh. I appreciate your assistance. I've been very happy with AT&T for the many years I've been with them (since I bought my first iPhone). This is the first time I've ever had an issue. I hope it can be resolved quickly. But even more importantly, I hope this might get the company to address the cramming issue and aggressively disassociate itself from these disreputable thieves. 

 

Thanks again. 


The company may work at it, but to effectively fight it would have to done at the FCC level, federal goverment nad other controlling entities - something like a do not call list and even then it would not be 100 percent effective.

 

Sad fact that it if it is tried to be stopped by preventing at the company name level, sending phone number / short code, DNS resolver it takes about an hour to setup a new LLC without the assistance of professional services, 10 miniutes or so to change the phone number, less if the company buys a DID block of a couple hundred phone numbers, dns can be changed in about 24 hous, register a new domain name at someplace like godaddy.com, submit to the new name to thedns provider and it is a new location, ip addresses can easily be spoofed or made anonomous with inexpensive software to connecting though one of the online services that provide this

 

the easiest way would be if the fcc changes the requirement of providing a method to stop pruchases by putting a purchase block on the number to automaticly setting up the purchase block and requiring a email to the carrier to have it removed. ATT, Sprint, Verizon and every other carrier in the US complies to the FCC ruling about providing a method to prevent purchases, right now you as the customer have to call them and request it being turned on - and this is no charge to you, just the time for the phone call

Message 87 of 94 (4,069 Views)
Contributor

Re: At&t let a third party charge me $9.99 without my consent

[ Edited ]

 

 

I was doing yardwork this afternoon, and in my pocket was my (very) old W580i, on which I have never made a purchase. I had also disabled the MediaNET button LONG ago, my phone is to be used as a phone...not a web device. And after having not used my phone all day, I suddenly received a text message stating that my subscription purchase for Snap for Mobile was successful.

 

I didn't authorize {word filter evasion}. I didn't even use the *** phone for anything other than six voice calls and four TXTs over the previous five days.

 

Sensing a scam, I almost immediately signed into my account on my desktop machine and went to Manage My Mobile Purchases. Sure enough, a $10.94 charge had been added to my account. Using AT&T's website, I tried to get the charges off my account...and it was immediately denied, literally one second after I clicked the Submit button (20MB broadband brings you bad news...FASTER). Yes, I called and got it reversed, and yes I put a block on purchases. Not that I should have had to do that, mind you...

 

Stop telling people that THEY made some sort of mistake. {keep it courteous}

 

Message 88 of 94 (3,276 Views)
Expert

Re: At&t let a third party charge me $9.99 without my consent

[ Edited ]

rogerch wrote:

 

 

I was doing yardwork this afternoon, and in my pocket was my (very) old W580i, on which I have never made a purchase. I had also disabled the MediaNET button LONG ago, my phone is to be used as a phone...not a web device. And after having not used my phone all day, I suddenly received a text message stating that my subscription purchase for Snap for Mobile was successful.

 

I didn't authorize {word filter evasion}. I didn't even use the *** phone for anything other than six voice calls and four TXTs over the previous five days.

 

Sensing a scam, I almost immediately signed into my account on my desktop machine and went to Manage My Mobile Purchases. Sure enough, a $10.94 charge had been added to my account. Using AT&T's website, I tried to get the charges off my account...and it was immediately denied, literally one second after I clicked the Submit button (20MB broadband brings you bad news...FASTER). Yes, I called and got it reversed, and yes I put a block on purchases. Not that I should have had to do that, mind you...

 

Stop telling people that THEY made some sort of mistame. {keep it courteous}

 


Thinly hidden vulgarity gets you nowhere, it just trivializes your end of the discussion.

You need to understand how theses places work - they can use a simple fact of "you did not respond with stop or end so you authorize it"

 

You took the personal responsibility to handle the issue by placing a purchase block, that was the correct step. Now it won't happen again.

 

Not sure where you are coming from with your attacks and claims of "long lengthy employement" (not that I could care) since this is your first post I have never responded to anything from you - unless you have another id on the forum. Nor am I concerned of your opinion on me. Bottom line, this happens the majority of the time through a "free" download, or taking a "free" intelligenece quiz on one of the social sites.

 

Thinly hidden vulgarity, name calling and bypassing a forum filter does nothing to prove or show the validity of a post, while I am really happy that you have 20mb internet pipe, that is kind of slow given the 1GB pipe available via Google fiber or the 100 MB pipe available via a cable carrier - although I do confess I am confused as to why this had to be part of the reponse, same as with your employment length.

 

Happy for you that you got it taken care of, with the purchase block in place you can be certain that any future charges placed on your mobile phone bill where specificly authorized by you.

 

Have a good day today and a better day tomorrow. Y'all be safe out there now.

 

Message 89 of 94 (3,262 Views)
Voyager

Re: At&t let a third party charge me $9.99 without my consent

The same thing happened to me. I canceled it and received credit but the charge is right back on my phone. That is the smallest reason that i am canceling my service as soon as possible.

Message 90 of 94 (2,392 Views)
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