The Checkout

This Phone Bill Charge Was No Joke

Reader Luke Currano of Columbia, Md., recently sent me an e-mail about some extra cell-phone charges that really angered him. I wonder if any of you have had similar experiences.

Here's his tale: He added a cell phone line to his Cingular account for his younger sister. His next bill included an $8.69 charge on the new line for "Direct Bill Download Detail." It turns out, his sister had been getting "stupid, unfunny jokes text messaged to her phone for several days,"--79 cents for each joke, coming two to three times a day. Currano said this was not something she had signed up for. Currano complained to Cingular, but the first customer-service rep he talked with said Cingular couldn't do anything about the charges because they came from a third-party service. They referred Currano to that company,

When Currano called the company, all he got was a recording with instructions for subscribing and unsubscribing to horoscopes and jokes. There was no operator with whom he could dispute the charges, only a recording with an e-mail address.

Currano then searched the Internet and found lots of other complaints about SMSfun4all. He also visited the company's Web site and concluded his problems were not unique, considering some of the FAQ's on SMSFUN4ALL's Web site:

I have never subscribed to this service, but I am receiving messages, how is this possible?

It is impossible that customers receive messages at random on their mobile phone. The only way to subscribe to our service is by sending a text message with a keyword (joke or astro) from the mobile phone number that receives the messages to the service. Maybe somebody else used your mobile phone to subscribe to the service. In any case we are not allowed to send any messages before somebody actually subscribes.

My child subscribed to the service, can I get a refund?

We clearly communicate in all our advertisements that you have to be the legal owner and bill payer to subscribe. Beside this we clearly state that children under 18 must seek parental approval before subscribing to any of our services. In every case, the contracting party of the mobile phone, which receives the text messages, is responsible for the mobile phone. So, we are very sorry, but in this case you don't get a refund

Cingular spokesman Clay Owen said erroneous third-party billing is a very small problem, less than 1 percent of the total complaints the company receives. Even so, he said, the customer representative who talked to Currano "may have provided the wrong answer." Currano should have gotten full credit the first time he challenged the charge (if it had been the second or third time and he still hadn't dropped the joke-of-the-day service, the company may have been more reluctant to do so). Owen promised to take care of Currano's problems--once Currano calls to complain again.

Currano has since gotten his bill corrected. But he's still angry, particulary because he says it's not the first time he's seen unauthorized charges on the cell-phone bill, like a roadside assistance charge when he first signed up. He's gotten rid of those too, but his bad feelings remain.

Have you been plagued by erroneous third-party billing on your telephone bills? Let me know--by posting a comment or sending an e-mail to

By  |  July 5, 2006; 7:00 AM ET Consumer Tips
Previous: Tube Kiting Safety Alert | Next: Say What You Mean, Round 2


Please email us to report offensive comments.

I had that roadside assistance charge, too .. when I first signed up with Cingular. EVERYONE with Cingular should look for it (or, Caroline, maybe you can investigate!) .. it was, I think, $5 a month ($60 a year!) added to my bill for a service I didn't want, request, or even know about. And it was very well hidden on my bill! It took two billing cycles to get it removed, and they were not the least bit surprised when I reported the "error" .. I bet they do it to everyone!

I also get occasional, unexplained "data" charges, when I only use the phone for voice calls. Very annoying.

Posted by: New York, NY | July 5, 2006 7:22 AM

I was subjected to one.
While connected through AOL to SYMANTEC to update my Virus software; I received a pop-up that simulated a symantec one and asked me to click "OK' to join the network. Since I had just finished updating the virus software; I made the mistake of clicking OK on this simulated symantec pop-up.
Then I started receiving $10.00 long distance service charge plus charges to calls all over; as if I had contracted from the service.
Needless to say I did not need a new "network" or Long distance service. Nor did I make any of the calls. This is still on-going towards bringing these parties to justice.

Posted by: preferanonymous | July 5, 2006 9:36 AM

I had several charges added to my Sprint bill when I signed up, and like NYNY above, it took several billing cycles to get them removed. One particularly ironic charge was the extra (insert absurdly large number) minutes for $10.00 a month charge. The phone is used very, very rarely; the previous cycle I had used something like four minutes. Still, Sprint decided to add the charge, then seemingly couldn't believe that anyone WOULDN'T want such a good deal on more minutes.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 5, 2006 9:37 AM

The real evil aspect of all this is the way the system is set up - just as you describe in the blog posting - where the consumer is bounced back and forth: "Oh, you have to talk to Company B. That's not our problem." "Oh, no, Company A misled you. It's their problem, not ours." They set it up cleverly so that no one is really responsible. I bet they figure most consumers will just give up and pay the amount since it's probably fairly small. Then the companies reap huge rewards in the aggregate.


Posted by: Bounced | July 5, 2006 9:44 AM

I DESPISE Cingular -- I LOATHED their predecessor, Cellular One. I had the worst customer (dis)service from Cellular One that I have ever had in my life (one of their CSRs actually called me a b***h and hung up on me!). I wouldn't subscribe to Cingular if they were the only cell service on the planet! I haven't had any trouble with Sprint, with whom I've been doing business for 7 years -- but then again, I always read my bills carefully. Good luck, Cingular users! You'll need every bit!

Posted by: Arlington | July 5, 2006 10:31 AM

I have had this problem only once with Verizon, and it was a real charge for upgrading service. Since they didn't tell me about it, though, I complained and didn't have to pay the service fee for whatever service upgrade it was. I think Verizon is much better than any other company (not just because I use it) because it has good coverage (even in the Metro!) and their prices are competitive with the other major service providers. The only problem is their selection of phones!

Posted by: verizon | July 5, 2006 10:31 AM

I once had a bogus $40 charge added to my residential Verizon bill from a 700-number service which noone in our family had ever called or used. Verizon directed us to call the 700 number company, which I did. The person in that company first refused to remove the charge, then agreed to remove 50% of the charge, but when I said "Didn't you hear me -- I DID NOT use your service and will NOT pay you a single cent" -- he agreed to remove the entire charge, but 'warned' me that I will never be able to call their 700 number again, after which I thanked him and asked Verizon to block all 700- and 900- calls from our landline. Verizon screwed up our bills for the next 5 cycles. They removed $40 from the original bill twice, and every consecutive bill they listed $40 as 'amount owed from previous bill'. Every time we called and every time they promised to fix it. The problem even made it on our credit report!!!

Posted by: Elle | July 5, 2006 10:58 AM

Ironically, Congress is actually moving the OTHER direction on cell phone consumer protection.

The Senate Commerce Committee just approved a bill that would eliminate State consumer protections for wireless (unless they rise to the level of fraud), but the FCC has never taken an enforcement action against a cell phone company - so good luck!

Call your Senator!

Posted by: Brian | July 5, 2006 10:59 AM

I had a terrible time getting a refund for two $9.99 charges on my Verizon account (one on each cellphone) beginning back in December, 2005. Verizon gave me the name of m-Qube, who promised an investigation, only to tell us that they were merely "an intermediary between the carrier and content provider." The content provider turned out to be Blinko, which promised an investigation. Their 800 number turned out to be phone mail hell, with no possibiliity of speaking to a human being, and they took ages to answer email. In February, they offered to refund half the charge after I threatened legal action. I wouldn't settle for it, and finally they agreed to refund the entire amount within 4-6 weeks.

At the end of April, no refund, so I re-contacted them. Their email response was that their "third-party refund processor mishandled a few accounts," but they would make sure the refund was issued. We finally got it in May, six months after the initial contact.

I still have no idea how this service was initiated in the first place. My husband and I are certain that we did not authorize it.

Posted by: MG | July 5, 2006 11:36 AM

This is another case of the user blaming the big bad company.

Mr. Currano failed (it seems) to inform his younger sister about the charges related to the cell phone. If she is old enough to have a cell phone, she is old enough to be responsible.

Mr. Currano should have told her that both incoming and outgoing text messages cost money. If he told her this and she was responsible, she would have told him about the first few text messages that she received. Shortly thereafter, they could have "cancelled" the service. The cost would have been less than $1.00.

Still a pain and "wrong" but a MAJORITY of the $8.69 charge was the user's fault.

Posted by: Non debtor | July 5, 2006 2:14 PM

Don't forget about the "equipment insurance" that Cingular automatically adds to your bill. We never, ever would have wanted insurance on our phones (why insure when you upgrade for a free model every 1-2 years?) but Cingular gave it to us without our knowledge; it took us three billing cycles to get it off the bill for good.

Posted by: therov | July 5, 2006 3:00 PM

I had more than $400 in 1-900 phone charges added to my Verizon phone bill. After some sleuthing, I learned that a rogue company in Ontario, Canada was claiming that I made multiple 30+ minute calls to some unknown service. I called Verizon, told them I was not going to pay the charges and told them to not allow additional third-party charges.

Then I went after the Canadians. I called the company and left increasingly belligerant messages. An operator eventually returned my call and threated to sue me for harassing them! I reported them to the local BBB and even contacted local law enforcement officials with the company name and address. All I got was a couple form letters in response ("we're really working on the problem") and probably a downgrade on my credit history for refusing to pay the charges.

When no one is willing to enforce the law (e.g. extortion, fraud), why should we be surprised when things like this occur?

Posted by: Joseph LaMountain | July 5, 2006 3:56 PM

I didn't need a 3d party, I had enough problems dealing with the "party of the first part," Cincinnati Bell, when they replaced my existing phone with an alleged upgrade. When I went in to collect the new phone, the teenaged help in the phone store offered me "free" text messageing for 90 days as part of the replacement package (which at the time did not involve a new calling plan). Thinking this would be a good opp to learn text messaging, I agreed to try it. Bad idea. next bill included charges for it, which took months to remove, then came a letter eliminating the plan I had and going to a (naturally) more expensive plan. Meanwhile, Warner Cable was blanketing the area w/tv ads saying Cin Bell charges extra for a paper bill. This turned out not to be true, but Cin Bell does give a form of discount if you buy every imaginable service from them bundled into one account; trying to sign up for this plan, or get a coherent explanation of it took months, plus a complaint to the local BBB, which did result in a phone call from Cin Bell by a very courteous employee, who nonetheless solved nothing; it turned out I don't have the required collection of services to qualify for the whopping $2 or whatever it is off the bill each month, even tho I have a land line with caller id and blocker-type services, and a cell phone, plus all kinds of repair insurance for inside and outside, which is required here unless you want to pay their gigantic fees if something goes wrong with the phone line. It also took 2 months and something like 10 phone calls to their customer serv people just to set up online billing on what has to be one of the worst carrier internet sites out there. Thank God I haven't tried to deal with a 3d party. The local direct seller of services is bad enough.

Posted by: ohio | July 5, 2006 4:37 PM

While my son is serving in Iraq, he asked that I put his Sprint cell phone account on military hold (they suspend the account for $5 per month). They were very cooperative and efficient, but the next month there were over $20 in text messaging charges. When I called to tell them that the cell phone was turned off, in my drawer and not being used, they also said it was a third party situation. I said I didn't care who was responsible, but to take the charges off and keep them off, which they have done. So Sprint is ok in my book.

Posted by: Slats | July 5, 2006 4:49 PM

I don't get this. Isn't there any way to control bill through services? I don't see any reason that my phone should be treated as a credit card without some form of authorization protection, such as a PIN. Also you should always be able to stop a service through the same methods as you initiate it. On persistant, long term services there should be rules that require either an "out-of-band" method for account management (and authorization) such as the web or a customer service representatives or they should be required to have a termnination message through the same method it was initiated, e.g., through a text message.

Billing for services should always be through a credit card, not through the phone. Can you do a story or provide more information about the rules on phone billing and why third parties are allowed to bill services without control through a phone number?

Also, if I send a message from my phone to a third party, such as this joke company, isn't there a trace through Cingular or my wireless provider? That way it is possible to identify fraud on the part of the third party vendor and shut them down.

Posted by: ken | July 5, 2006 5:39 PM

I have a Cingular cellphone. I was never charged for roadside assistance or equipment insurance, but I was charged for accessing on the Internet with my cellphone. I said that I had never done it, but they insisted that I did. I was also charged for receiving text messages, although I said that I don't know anyone who would text-messaage me, and I hadn't opened them. I thought they were sent to me by mistake, but it didn't matter. Someone sent an email to my cellphone, also in error, as I don't know anyone who would do that. I didn't open it, because I was told that if I opened it, I would have to pay for it, and it was impossible to know before I opened it how expensive it was. I had to tell them to disable my phone so that I can't send or receive text messages, access the Internet, or send or receive email. That was the only way I could make sure that I wouldn't be charged again. Now, all I can do with my cellphone is make and receive calls.

Posted by: Just Me | July 5, 2006 6:06 PM

I have a family plan with cingular. To avoid any problems I had the phones disabled from internet, text message, picture messaging and any other extra crap. All the phones can do are make and recive calls. I go over my bill each month with a fine tooth comb.

Posted by: J | July 5, 2006 6:57 PM

I have never had any of these problems with T-Mobile. Their customer service has always been top-notch when I have had to contact them for any assistance. However, I have heard from several friends of mine who have Cingular about all the issues they have had with that company regarding improper billing, customer service, and mail-in rebates (as far as I am concerned, Cingular NEVER honors any mail-in rebate).

Posted by: Drew | July 5, 2006 7:33 PM

I had a very similar problem. I had cingular family plan for a year with no problems. I added a third line and the first bill after that: the new line has roadside assistance and I get a 40 charge for a subscriptiona plus 10 per month subscription fee. I know for certain i did not sign up for this garbage. I called cingular, yelled at them and they said they would deal but it would take time for the charges to be reimbursed. Roadside Assistance was immediatly reimbursed, still waiting for the 50+ dollars they still owe me. We'll see what my next bill says. BTW, was the third party charging me fees for a fourth party that is still anonymous to me.

Posted by: EI | July 5, 2006 7:59 PM

I agree with Drew about T-Mobile. I've never had a problem with their telephone customer service folks - they are always pleasant and very helpful. There have never been any billing issues.

I don't know if this helps, but I guard my cell phone number the way I do my personal email address. My cell number is not used unless I specifically want that company to contact my directly.

Posted by: Elisa | July 5, 2006 9:41 PM

I have not had any erroneous charges on my cellular, landline, or VoIP telephone bills.

Posted by: ProfessorB | July 6, 2006 7:46 AM

I have T-Mobile. Their service people are usually friendly, but not very helpful. As a long time customer, T-Mobile allows bonus minutes if you request them. I have two phone on my account. I requested bonus minutes on both phones because we were running out of allowed minutes. The service rep added bonus minutes to one phone and not the other. When I received my bill I saw that the other phone had accrued over $20 in excess minutes (with no bonus minutes allowed.) I called T-Mobile. The service rep said the previous rep made a mistake in not crediting the second phone with bonus minutes, but that she couldn't do anything about that. I asked to speak to her supervisor. He came on (I don't know if he was a supervisor or not), but he was very rude and hung up on me. So, basically, I had to pay for the service rep's mistake.

Posted by: DCnative | July 6, 2006 9:18 AM

I had a contract with Cingular for at least three years and I have more complaints about their billing than I could ever remember to list here.

In sum, more than half of my monthly bills came in with ridiculous inappropriate overcharges that often took hours to reconcile. For the first year or two I would take the bill to the local store and some sales rep would try to fix things and send me away assured next month's bill would arrive with the correct charges. Later I had to deal with obnoxious "customer service" phone lines and reps trained to argue with customers until they just give up and pay the unwarranted charged. I never received more than 2 correct bills in a row without overcharges. The reps were either incompetent or dishonest (my guess is dishonest), but I didn't care either way since it was my time being wasted while the clowns in the store had nothing but time to waste.

I now have a contract with Verizon. The store reps seem no more competent than Cingular, but I have yet to have a problem with a bill. My monthly bills arrive consistently without a single unexpected charge. My advice is don't even consider Cingular - as you can see in the other comments here, the problems with Cingular are rampant and in my opinion caused intentionally by the company and their employees.

Posted by: Amacfarl | July 6, 2006 10:40 AM

Wow! Hearing all of these horror stories confirms my decision to have a pay-as-you-go plan from Virgin Mobile. The person above who mentioned only using the phone a few minutes a month might want to consider this option. Our phone is used rarely and we just add more money when needed. No hidden changes sneaking into the bill.

Posted by: PayAsYouGo | July 7, 2006 10:32 AM

When I signed up for TMobile I was assigned a phone number that had apparently been previously owned by somebody who signed up for a bunch of those lame text messaging services. I called T-Mobile to complain and ask if text messaging could be disabled, as I never wanted to use it, and it was only causing extra charges; but they very cheerfully and pleasantly told me there was nothing they could do. I tried going to the website of the joke company and unsubscribing, but of course I didn't know the previous cell owner's password. I ended up getting my phone number changed. It was a big stupid hassle.

Posted by: Laura | July 7, 2006 1:34 PM

I think a amjor end result problem is that the company can always "ding" our credit report. That hurts later on but what is the worse thing we can do to them? Gripe? Email? Argue on the phone? Not using their services takes a long time to affect the company's bottom line.

The system is set up a litle too easy for companies to "ding" my credit rating. If only I could ding them back when they screwed we might get somewhere.

Posted by: Sean | July 7, 2006 2:05 PM

I moved from one city to another, and obtained a new telephone number, with a standard "land line" service with Qwest. A few days later, I received a pre-recorded wake-up call at 6 AM from a service that I never heard of, and never subscribed to. As with other postings, the 800 number provided at the END of message (I had to listen to the message for FIVE minutes) was also recorded, and had no information. Using internet reverse-phone directories gave me the name of the company, but the same 800 number. My phone company - Qwest - was of no help - contact the originating biller. The police were of no help. It took months, and the intervention of my Senator with the FCC to finally track down the company in another state, contact the State Attorney General, and put a stop to it. The final explanation from the originating company - someone else ordered the service, and the originating company accidentally mist-typed the wrong phone number into their database. My charges of $1.00 per call were ultimately removed after months of difficulty, and wake-up calls that I did not want.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 10, 2006 1:30 PM

I'm not sure how relevant my experience is as I am writing about a Canadian experience. But I was receiving annoying spam SMS messages from a organisation that purports to connect people together to become friends - a quick search turned up many complaints on this shady company that offers absolutely no information without having to 'register' first. After many useless calls to my cellular provider in which they provided erroneous information that did not end these unwanted spams from a service I did not in anyway sign up for, I finally spoke to a technician that provided the correct information on how to unsubscribe. After searching online to see if any others had the same problem as me, I found the email for the public relations manager of the cellular provider and sent her an email detailing my compaints. They were nice enough to refund one month's worth of SMS fees, though that hardly compensates for the time and frustration of the whole affair.

Posted by: Gene | July 10, 2006 5:59 PM

My landline and cell phone are with Verizon and I have never had a problem with that company. I have had my cell phone service with Verizon during the last six years and my landline much, much longer. I have heard and read about many horror stories concerning Cingular's service. The subscribers to Cingular may want to consider swithing to Verizon.

Posted by: Vettaa | July 12, 2006 4:43 AM

We had an odd charge show up on our T-Mobile bill and after some hunting on the internet found that it was from Blinko. We never signed up for this. According to their website you have to signup online receive a code word by SMS and then type that code word into the web to confirm the service. We DEFINITELY never went through this process, let alone ever heard of these people, which indicates to us that Blinko or is guilty of cramming. (No child uses this phone, but a well-educated computer geek) T-Mobile was extremely uncooperative about removing the charge. Only after arguing to talk to a manager was the first charge removed with a warning that it won't be removed again on future bills (despite them admitting that they receive a lot of complaints about Blinko--the clue train apparantly doesn't stop at the T-Mobile offices). They told us it was our responsibility to remove ourselves from Blinko's service to avoid being charged again. We never signed up in the first place, but we tried to call (voice mail hell) we SMS'ed with the removal commands (all of which took a lot of personal time). We still continued to receive the spam messages despite the unsubscribe attempts so we called T-mobile again to tell them this and they offered to block the Blinko numbers from SMSing the phone. Okay, that's fine, except they are still trying to send them, indicating that we haven't sucessfully unsubscribed and now can't because the number is blocked... We'll see on the next bill if we have another fight with T-Mobile on our hands. This is ridiculous. These SMS spam/scam companies get a free ride with the carrier's cooperation and collusion, frankly, and even if they maliciously add you as a customer and never take you off, the carrier insists they can keep taking your money. They fixed this with land lines, what is taking the legistature so long to make the same fix to cell lines??

Posted by: Marie | July 13, 2006 4:17 AM

I actually work for cingular customer service and i get calls from customers all the time from angry parents on these direct bill charges. Mom or dad always says that perfect little 'Johnny' or 'Susie' did not subscribe and does not know how to text message or get on the internet and they want credit for the charges. Parents sometimes don't realize that their kids are smarter than they think. Standard Cingular service comes with your basic text message and internet service, and you actually have to say - no i don't want that - to stop the services.

Posted by: Megan | July 27, 2006 1:45 PM

Hey Megan, nice of you to bash paying customers, but not everyone has a child who uses their cell phone to sign up for these pernicious services -- a lot of times, it is malicious and fraudulent activity that causes these charges to appear. I would say it's probably closer to 70% scam, 30% customer fault. It's scary how little responsibility Cingular (and other companies) takes for protecting its customers from fraudulent charges -- many of which are not caused by customer fault and SHOULD be resolved by the cell phone company on behalf of their PAYING customers.

And your scornful attitude is certainly another indicator of why customers should avoid Cingular like the plague!

Posted by: Arlington | July 28, 2006 10:31 AM

Im getting tex messages unwanted, they are from flycell, I do not want this, need to delete, Im being charged for somthing im trying to delete. PLEASE HELP IF YOU CAN .# 408 829-8136 cell Thank You.

Posted by: Alexander Rivas | July 29, 2006 1:15 PM

Just so you know - I'm not bashing paying customers. I like my paycheck too much. And I'm not actually trying to have a scornful attitude, just trying to state the facts. Not all customers that i talk to that are complaining of these charges have children. There are a lot of factors that can cause this issue for the direct bill charges: downloading ringtones and not reading the fine print and recycled numbers, just to name a few. If it does help any, i do have cingular service, and NO,I do not get a discount on my bill.

Posted by: Megan | August 4, 2006 1:49 AM

i've just discovered that i've been getting ripped off also by this mcube cingular scam. i guess i'm naive but i just trusted that whatever reason for my bill's being so high were probably my fault. how stupid of me to think that i could trust a company that i've been a loyal customer to for about 4 yrs now.

i won't go into my story, it's the same as all the rest. i'll just skip to the ending. when i called cingular to dispute the charges the representative was very kind. he explained that alot of cingular customers were calling in with the same complaint and explained that mcube sends text messages to phone, if the messages aren't answered with one saying your not interested you are automatically billed. he was so nice and seemed to have my same attitude that it should be illegal,so i took his word. he did say that mqube is in no way connected to cingular.
i still had my doubts so i did a little research.mcube and cingular are partners. knowing that i'm finding it increasingly hard to beleive that cingular is not involved in this scam. if anyones doubts me look on mqubes website.
i hope this makes everyone even more suspicious of cingular. on my bill beside the mqube charge it's even got a number for the merchant.......its a cingular number. why are they telling everyone they aren't connected??????

Posted by: jaime | August 4, 2006 1:58 AM

don't get me wrong, i don't think that the customer service represntatives are in on this. i'm sure the guy i talked to has no idea. but someones not telling him the whole story at his job.
and come on, anyone who thinks that this is the customers fault is out of their minds. i don't remember even reciving any text messages asking if i wanted a ringtone......let alone 30 text messages. and even if i did recieve them you shouldn't have to communicate back that your not interested or automatically be billed. that's rediculously unethical.

Posted by: jaime | August 4, 2006 2:06 AM

This just happened to my husband the other day. The same exact thing. Stupid jokes every day. He called Verizon and they took it off the bill. Next bill it was on there again. The customer service rep was very rude and unhelpful, and kept on saying that there was nothing Verizon could do about it.
It's insane. I guess grift has been around for ever, but it just seems so dirty.

Posted by: Jules | August 4, 2006 4:24 PM

verizon is also a partner of mqube. i was told today that although they are partners mqube is a third party and that cingular has nothing to do with their business. wrong. if they allow a business partner to take advantage of their customers they are also at fault.

Posted by: jaime | August 4, 2006 5:51 PM

i don't know why nobody's bashing T-mobile on this blog. Their customer service droids are as nice as they can be, and it really raises the guilt level to have a complaint with the billing department. (Hint: Ask to speak with the Conflict Resolution Department when you *start* getting frustrated)
T-mobile forced me to pay charges on my daughter's cellhone that was stolen. I reported it immediately, and they told me they couldn't turn it off without cancelling the phone, and that would cost me $200. So a month later, someone found it and downloaded $175 in ringtones. I found it on my bill and called, and argued the point with many levels of customer service people (i'm on a small income and that's a quarter of my social security check), all to no avail.
What I hadn't realized is that millions of people are refusing to pay their cellphone bills in protest of these (and other) unfair business practices. The phone companies are actually quite vulnerable in this way. Not that I'm advocating action. I paid my bill.
But I am in the process of writing a joyful goodbye letter to T-mobile, because the bad feelings have sure nuff lingered. My only issue is which company I want to abuse me for the next few years.
I'm considering prepaid and screw them all.

Interesting fact: Did you know that the parent company of T-Movile, Deutsche Telecom (known as Deutsche Telephonewerk) was one of the German companies that used Nazi slave labor during WWII? here's the link:

Posted by: jeanne | August 7, 2006 12:06 PM

Look at Flycell's Better Business report, it keeps growing and growing and has jut been made available.

Keep away from these people, every few days the report grows by a few complaints.

Posted by: Angry J | August 7, 2006 12:49 PM

I can certainly relate to the negative experiences that you have regarding service that you have cancelled but are still being billed. I requested cancellation of service for ringtones on my daughter's Sprint phone provided by Blinko. I followed the company's policy for cancellation back in March followed by e-mail. They responded back indicating that the service would be cancelled. It is August and we are still being billed for a service that we no longer have nor have they provided a refund which they indicated would take 4-6 weeks to receive. I am totally fed up and am now considering taking legal action against Blinko. I also contacted Sprint about this situation and they told us to inform them if we were still being billed.

Posted by: karen | August 11, 2006 11:17 AM


Posted by: TERESA , GRAVETTE, AR | August 19, 2006 7:29 PM


Posted by: B.A D.C FLA | August 20, 2006 7:02 AM

what happens when you get those sms messages is if you go onto a website on your phone and a ad comes up. even though you may not have subscribed to it by entering in imformation you are still billed for this. sprint is not charging you it is these groups of sms that are charging sprint and sprint charges you.

Posted by: Krista | August 23, 2006 11:28 PM

do not need this on my phone

Posted by: eleria davis | August 27, 2006 9:31 PM

do not need this on my phone plese tack it off think you.

Posted by: eleria davis | August 28, 2006 6:34 PM

I received a bill way over my usual amount and discovered after looking over my bill that I had been charged 194 minutes for 8 calls to voice mail. I don't know about any of you but my voice mails are generally just a few minutes. But 20 or 30 minutes? I don't think so. Cingular insists I must have left my phone (motorola Razr)open so that voice mail kept going or that someone else may have possibly used my phone. What!!!??? So I did a test and dialed voice mail and guess what?...the recorded voice asks "are you there"? if you don't press any key and it hangs up after about a minute. So I continued to look over my previous bills for months past and 8 out of 10 months had these ridiculously long voice mail charges. Of course the gal from Cingulars's customer service insists that the sim card cannot make that error and must be either some thing I'm doing or just have many long messages. I suppose these pople are all programmed to deny any fault of Cingular. So much for rollover minutes!

Posted by: Sue | August 30, 2006 3:57 AM

Great news fellow m-qube suffers! I have a simular issue - I will not bore you with the details - it is a mirror to those above. I have a name, number and an email of the President/CEO. I looked on the BBB online(they are great by the way on finding out about a company)they list this company and I quote: "Customer Experience
Based on BBB files, this company has an unsatisfactory record with the Bureau due to unanswered complaints and a pattern of complaints and one or more unresolved complaints." I sent the email today and I thought while I waited I would share my new knowledge with my friends.

Here ya go - Oh - you are welcome

Company name: m-Qube, Inc.
M-Qube, Inc.
Company address: 311 Arsenal Street
Watertown, MA 02472
See the location on a Mapquest map
See the location on a Google map
Original business start date: 2001
Type of entity: Corporation
Incorporated: 2001 in Delaware
Principal: Jeffrey Glass, President/CEO
Number of employees: 250
Phone number: 617-673-2400
Fax Number: 617-673-2401
Email address:
BBB Membership Status: This company is not a Member

Web site address:

Posted by: Daniel | September 6, 2006 3:24 PM

Just trying to see if anyone has any info about Flycell that I can contact them. I was charged 20 on my last bill and another 10 on this one. I ended my services in June and they are still charging me. I look at the BBB report but the phone number given doesn't contact anyone. Any help would be great!

Posted by: Brandi | September 16, 2006 3:06 PM

T-mobile messed us up. When we moved from Hawaii to Virginia the transition was supposed to be seemless. Well after struggling with bad reception and dropped calls, missed calls, no recetpion for about a month we were finally advised we needed to change the sim cards for our phones. Fine. We did that--with actually some confusion and extra fees because when we went to the t-mobile store it was not the right store!!! We were at the right mall but their were two stores. One out in the middle of the mall and one inside a shop in the mall. Go figure. Both parties pointed the finger at each other. It was crazy. Guess one was an "independent dealer" of t-mobile.
It continues....
In (I think July) I got a blackberry and wanted text messaging to be on the thing. My wife called t-mobile (I was sitting next to her when she did this) and she was making sure text messaging was added or already on our 5 phones.
Get This....we always use texting....have always done so BUT T-mobile for some reason took us OFF text messaging for free/included charge AND proceeded to bill us for hundreds and hundreds of texts over the next month.
The bill jumped from our usual 200-300 dollar range for the 5 phones to 800 dollars!!!! From the texting!!!! When we called to correct the bill (several different times with several different people and managers) they could only make sure the CURRENT Bill (From Aug 28 or something like it) onward could be corrected. They indicated they could not go back and fix the July bill because WE had authorized them to DROP the Text service!!!! ARe they nuts!?>?? Do they think we are idiots????? Why would we call a company to take off a service (about the only one that works at our house because the VOICE RECEPTION IS SO BAD) off a service we USE so that we could PAY MORE money for a lousy service????? All we keep hearing from T-mobile here in Fairfax County is "we're putting up another tower." Right!!!! All I want is credit on the bill for the false charges since we NEVER authorized the change. I refuse to pay whay I don't owe. One rep was able to calculate what I could pay without included the texting service--but that it would still be on my bill! So I guess they will eventually continue to bill me, cancel my service, and put it on my credit report.
I will despite this phone company until they fix it.
I will place a statement on my credit file.
This is the second time I've been raked over the coals by these crooks. (Nextel did it to me before.)
I would love to find out who that customer service rep is at T-mobile and have a little chat with her--and a police officer or my lawyer.
Thanks for this blog.

Posted by: Jim from VA | September 17, 2006 10:30 AM

Supposedly someone broke into my house and used my cell phone to sign me up for Flycell last month at 3am in the morning. I live alone and this would have been impossible but Flycell support tells me it had to happen since they have a "so called" double opt-in process... I say they either got hacked or more likely, they are using fraudulent means to get cell phone numbers and faking subscriptions to boost profits. If anybody needs it, the support (if you can call it support) number for Flycell is:

212.400.1212 ex 441


Posted by: Todd from TX | September 20, 2006 4:38 PM

This is bullcrap, I just recieved my phonebill today with the mqube subscription that i was oblivious to, I did a google search for mqube because I didn't know what it was, this was the first site that came up, thanks, I now know that I'm also being ripped off, got to go call Cingular, Thanks again for the info

Posted by: mike | September 25, 2006 5:39 PM

I'll add my voice. I love my child and we talk often. I added her to my Cingular system for 9.99 a month. All was well untill she, or a friend she lowned her phone to. Text messaged a "Free ring tone" service.

For months I called Cingular and had some of (they never would remove all) the charges. Some months there would be the same charge five times for the same thing. Even after they took off some charges some months I paid $80 to $150 in 3rd party charges to keep my phone.

Needless to say I took the phone away from my dauther and turned it off but still the charges keep comming.

When my contract expired. I turned off my phone too and let the service terminate. That was a misstake too.

I coun't pay the bill on line because they turned off my account to their web site. I couldn't pay my bill over my phone because it was dead. Wouldn't even turn on after charging. So I took time off work and went into the store.

I paid half of what I owned. And I was told after have some more charged removed (they did another $130+) they would reinstate my account. I did, they didn't.

All they realy wanted was for me to pay off the account. Now that my ballance is ZERO (0) they want $500 deposit to open a new account.

I told them Goodby.

I liked Cingular. I was a customer for six years. I paied thousands to them in that time. I esimate it is something like $10,000 plus. I'd like to have a Cingular account still. My friends and older children are on Cingular. But this is too much to take.

Read more at www grennan com.

I'm going to call their marketing department.

Posted by: Mark Grennan | September 29, 2006 7:50 PM

Will not bore all. But I've had the same problems with M-qube or m-cube whatever.
Let get together and file a class action...

Posted by: Bryant Washington | October 3, 2006 7:02 PM

The comments to this entry are closed.


© 2010 The Washington Post Company