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Scamming You From Coast To Coast

, , , | Right | October 25, 2017

(It is the late 90s and I work in a call center for a large cellphone company. This company has both nationwide and regional plans. If a person leaves their coverage area, they are charged roaming fees that can be quite expensive. Many people getting hit by these fees call us to try and have them waived with a myriad of excuses. The most common excuse attempted is, “I was never in [Location]; your system is broken.” Whenever this happens, I show them on the itemized section of the bill how every call is listed, along with the location the call was made from. Almost nobody ever looks at anything besides the total. I then point out the very obvious path, visible on their own bill, that the customer took from their home to a place outside the coverage area, and, usually, back again. Even if there isn’t a path, most of the time there is an obvious break in calls that would easily fit within a trip from their usual location to where they were when the charges were applied.)

Me: “Thank you for calling [Company]. How can I help?”

Customer: “Your computer system messed up and charged me roaming fees when it shouldn’t have.”

Me: “Okay, why don’t you bring out your bill and we’ll—”

Customer: *cutting me off* “I’ve already gone over the bill, and if you go to [page number] you will see that I have calls from home, and then not three minutes later it says I have calls from roaming!”

(Looking at the bill, it is listed exactly as he described. The roaming calls are located halfway across the continent, so this is definitely not simply an issue of him crossing the border in three minutes. In addition to billing issues, I am also tech support and have access to tower data. I look up the exact tower each call was connected to when a call was made, which is logged in the account for troubleshooting purposes. This information, however, is not printed on the bill. Bringing up the tower location details of his calls around the time on the bill easily answers the reason for the discrepancy.)

Me: “So, I have been going through the details of these calls to find the source of this ‘glitch’ you pointed out, and I noticed that the last call made before the roaming charges started was from a tower located within [Major East Coast International Airport], and the first call made when the charges started is from a tower located within [Major West Coast International Airport].”

Customer: “…”

Me: “Taking the timezones into account, that would be about the time it takes to fly between—”

Customer: *click*

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