The state Attorney General and Consumer Advocate are warning that you may’ve been fooled by a Merrillville, Indiana phone company. Utility Consumer Advocate John Perkins says Buzz Telecom has been fooling Iowans into switching their phone service through a fast-paced and confusing sales pitch.
Perkins says the Buzz representatives target elderly people and will tell the people that they represent their local telephone company. Perkins says once Buzz switches your telephone service over to their service, then they add on extra charges.
Perkins says often times the promised savings in long distance fees from Buzz is “simply illusory” and people are actually paying more for long distance. Perkins says they’re encouraging people to carefully check their phone bills.
Perkins says the things Buzz is doing is what’s known as “cramming” and “slamming.” Perkins says cramming is the unauthorized placing on your bill of something you didn’t order, while the slamming is switching your long distance without your consent. Perkins says the complaints started rolling in after people discovered Buzz Telecom wasn’t a bargain.
Perkins says the Utilities Board thinks as of today they’ll probably go over 150 complaints, with the vast majority of complaints coming in the last two weeks. Perkins says the complaints are investigated and then his office makes recommendations to the Utilities Board.
Perkins says they’ve asked the Utilities Board to docket a number of the cases and are seeking civil penalties. He says civil penalties can be as much as 10-thousand dollars per offense, and the board will determine how much that civil penalty will be.
Attorney General Tom Miller says the amount of complaints in this case really sent out a warning signal. Miller says very few people complain, and one way to look at complaints is the number in the light of the fact that most people don’t complain. “A 150 complaints is a huge, huge number, let me tell ya,” Miller says, “that’s why we’re hear today as sort of a red flag for consumers to be looking at their bills, either from their regular carrier, or from Buzz Telecom.”
Miller says if you see something that doesn’t look right on your phone bill, call Iowa Office of Consumer advocate to report the problem. You can call 515-281-5984.
Related web sites:
Iowa Utilities Board website