Message to MCI: It's NOT Me!
In this age of identity theft and hijacked MySpace identities, proving you're you is not always easy. Just ask Lisa Newman of the District. Lisa has been fighting just such a battle against MCI, which keeps trying to get her to pay someone else's bill.
About three years ago, Lisa began receiving long distance phone bills for a phone number she never had. At the time, she hadn't been an MCI customer for many years. Lisa quickly called MCI about the bills, customer service workers and supervisors assured her the mix-up would be fixed.
Several months later, though, another MCI bill appeared in her mailbox.
Lisa called the phone number on the bill and discovered the root of the problem. The name of the woman who answered was Lucy Newman. She, too, said she had been fighting MCI.
Lisa relayed the situation to MCI, which, once again, promised to get its act together. But the bill-and-complain cycle repeated itself several more times.
Lisa thought the case of mistaken identity was finally behind her after a chat with MCI in January. She even received a letter saying the disputed MCI account had been closed. Then, in mid-August, she received a notice from a collection agency working for MCI.
She called the collection agency, apoplectic. "It was clear they did not believe me about the bill," she said. "They kept saying, 'MCI would have only sent this to us if you owed the debt!' "
The grand total of the bill, by the way, is $39.74. Lisa refuses to pay, even if it would make the whole mess go away. "I have this very German side of me," she said, "very orderly in some ways, and that side is the person with perfect credit history!"
For the sake of her FICO, she next stormed the phone tree at MCI, refusing to get off the phone until she got an answer.
MCI initially told her that it had "erased" its record of her name and had no files on her debt since they had turned it over to a collection agency. Later, they found her file using the errant phone number. It turned out, her situation had been "in research" at MCI and never resolved, and, of course, referred to a collection agency.
She hung up with a promise from an MCI customer service rep to call her on Aug. 21 with a resolution. No one called.
Two weeks ago, Lisa pulled her credit report and was relieved that it remained unblemished.
When asked about the Lisa/Lucy situation, Christy Reap, a spokeswoman for Verizon, which now owns MCI, said: "Obviously, we--someone, somewhere, somebody--dropped the ball on this. Verizon and its predecessor work hard on customer care. Something went very wrong with her specific issue in getting it resolved in a timely way. We're working to get it resolved."
Epilogue: Following an inquiry by this reporter, Lisa received a letter on August 28 saying her situation had been resolved by the "MCI Executive Escalations office" for good.
Have you ever spent time in customer service purgatory? Share your story here because, as they say, misery loves company but hates call centers.
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