The other evening I received email confirmations for the purchases of a $700 notebook/phone and $120 a month six-line service from a cell phone company. But I hadn’t ordered them.
The phone and service had not been paid for. The phone company was carrying the credit for them both. I freaked.
I do have an ancient flip phone from the same company that we carry in the car for emergencies. But that’s all I have. And it’s just a phone. It’s pre-paid by the minute. We don’t have any other mobile devices. We’ve simplified.
But I did talk to a sales person on the phone the week before. I was exploring alternatives to our current home phone and internet. My home phone service provider had notified me that they were extending my low introductory rate when, in fact, they were increasing my bill by thirty per cent. This had annoyed me. So I’d called around for alternatives.
When I saw those emails confirming that I’d made a big credit purchase and e-signed a contract, I assumed that the pushy saleswoman I’d spoken with had clicked in an order for me. I’ve heard of this happening to other people. Once you’re on the hook for a contract, you’re on the hook. Not making payments for purchases and contracts wrecks your credit rating.
I called the customer service number on the email right away. But the foreign-sounding woman who answered seemed unable to comprehend my problem. And she said she was unable to locate my account information. She asked for my name and number, over and over. She was sure I must have a third phone number. Finally she laughed.
“You have a pre-paid account,” she explained. “This is the post-paid department.”
“But I called the customer service number on the email you sent me,” I told her.
It didn’t matter. She said she was not authorized to open my account information because I have a pre-paid phone.
“But I’m not calling about my pre-paid phone,” I insisted. “I’m calling about another account and phone ordered by mistake using my name. You sent me two emails. Don’t you have records of them?”
Yes, she had records. But, no, she couldn’t help me. I’d called the wrong number. I’m only allowed to talk to the pre-paid department.
I repeated that I wasn’t calling about my pre-paid account. I was calling about a phone and service agreement purchased using my name. It was a mistake. I wanted to cancel it.
She asked my permission to transfer my call. I said no. We ran this loop several times. Finally she transferred my call to the pre-paid department even though I told her it was the wrong thing to do.
The pre-paid customer service woman also had a thick accent. She also seemed unable to comprehend why I was talking to her. She worked in the pre-paid customer service department. She told me that, since I’d ordered a new phone and service contract on-line, she couldn’t help me. Her department doesn’t handle this.
“But I didn’t order anything,” I told her. “This order has my name on it. It came to my email box. But it’s not mine. I didn’t order it. So I’m calling to cancel the order.”
“You ordered this on-line,” she repeated.
“No,” I said. “I didn’t order it anywhere. I talked to a sales person last week on the phone. But I didn’t order anything.”
“What’s your order number?”
“I have no idea,” I told her. “I didn’t order anything. Can’t you look in my account at the emails you sent me?”
“I need the order number,” she repeated.
She waited while I enlisted my husband’s help to download and open recalcitrant attachments. We searched for an order number. I read it to her.
This is when I noticed that the order had my name on it but a different delivery address. The $700 tablet would be delivered to someone else. I’ve heard of this kind of scam.
“I can cancel it,” She said. She paused. “I can’t cancel it.”
Which was it?
No. She couldn’t cancel the order for me. She decided that this was really not her department. She works in the pre-paid department and this was not about my pre-paid account.
“Yes,” I said. “That’s what I told the first woman. She insisted I talk to you.”
The pre-paid woman told me she had to transfer my call again. She said I’d have to wait a long time while she explained the situation to the next person. I spent a long time on musical hold. I considered hanging up and calling the warehouse store that had handled the order. But they were closed. So I kept holding.
At last a woman with an American-ish accent and a chained-to-the-desk attitude came on the line. She had no idea why I was calling her. No one had explained anything to her. So I told my story all over again from the top.
“Those are just order confirmations.” She spit the words. “You can delete them.”
“But they have my name on them,” I told her. “You sent them to my email address. I didn’t order anything.”
“They were sent in to you in error. Don’t open them,” she said. “Just ignore them and delete them.”
I could hear her eyes roll. I was her problem. There was no apology for any mistakes on their part. There was no apology for inconvenience. She hurried and scraped me off the phone.
How could I “not open” emails that I’d had to open to read? How could I “ignore” a $700 tablet/phone and service debt contract with my name on them? How could I “not open” attachments? They had instructed me to open the attachments to read the order number for them.
After I got off the line with customer service, I called the customer phone number listed on the invoices. The person who answered spoke no English. She passed the phone. The second woman told me that my first name is similar to her mother’s first name. But her mother has a completely different last name from mine.
She laughed. “Maybe my mother used a different name.”
But she told me that no one there had ordered a new phone or phone service. I read the name, address and phone number from the invoice to her. She didn’t confirm or deny any of it. She sounded unconcerned.
In the end, Robert and I went through our credit and debit accounts to be sure that no one had used our bank accounts. I checked my on-line pre-paid phone account. There was no evidence any of it had ever happened.
But I can’t ignore those emails and I won’t delete them. I want an e-paper trail if this thing comes back to bite me.
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Thanks for reading.
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