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SOS: She wasn't a Spectrum customer, which didn't stop Spectrum bills

SOS: She wasn't a Spectrum customer, which didn't stop Spectrum bills

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Spectrum wanted Kari Porter back, so the telecommunications provider sent a sales rep, uninvited, to her home. And for about a week, his pitch worked.

The Senate Committee on Government Operations, Technology and Consumer Protection recently held an informational hearing on K-12 virtual schools in Wisconsin. Department of Public Instruction senior policy advisor Jennifer Kammerud highlighted that in the 2020-21 school year, there will be 52 virtual schools in Wisconsin compared to 48 virtual schools from last year that served 8,791 students. In 2019-20, there were over 850 thousand students in 421 public school districts and 25 independent charter schools, and over 750 private schools serving over 120 thousand students. Kammerud also shared that about 15 percent of students did not have access to internet at home. "Moving forward, we do need to have a way to make sure that students can access the instruction," Kammerud said.

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That was plenty long enough for Spectrum’s billing department.

Porter, 54, said she used to have Spectrum internet, but it was unreliable so about a year ago she switched to a high-speed TDS connection.

It was last fall when the “very convincing” Spectrum rep showed up at her Windsor home with a deal, she said: A three-month free trial of cable, phone and internet service and “’send equipment back within three months if you decide not to pay and you won’t be charged,’” she wrote SOS on March 28, quoting the rep.

It didn’t take that long.

When the equipment arrived about a week later, she decided hooking it up wasn’t worth the hassle, knowing she would probably only use it for the free three months.

“I didn’t even plug it in, didn’t ever receive any offer in writing (including in the equipment box), didn’t sign anything, didn’t complete online Spectrum sign up,” she wrote.

Instead, she sent it back to Spectrum, which received it on Dec. 2, according to UPS’ package-tracking service, she said.

Nevertheless, the first bill for the Spectrum services she never had arrived in February; in March came another bill, plus past-due charges for not paying the first. Messages and calls to the company left her passed down the customer service rabbit hole and on hold for longer than she could commit to.

“Last week after two hours of holding and being passed around, someone finally listened (or so I thought),” she told SOS. “I had to call again and and was told I’m responsible for this bill, $238.55, because I didn’t call to cancel. ... They claim my agreeing to let them send me equipment was my ‘signing up.’”

Kim Haas, senior director of communications for Spectrum parent company Charter Communications, told SOS that Porter’s account should have been closed when the company received the equipment on Dec. 2. Her bill has now been zeroed out.

“We apologize for the inconvenience,” she said. “The misunderstanding arose because the customer did not contact us to cancel service, and there was an error on our side processing their returned equipment.”

Tickets refund

Another Brown Paper Tickets customer has received a refund. Mary Powers, of Madison, reported April 8 that the $129.96 showed up on a recent bank statement.

Powers had purchased four tickets to an April 24 show at the Middleton-Cross Plains Area Performing Arts Center that was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Seattle-based Brown Paper Tickets last month agreed to a consent decree in Washington state requiring it to provide $9 million in restitution to an estimated 45,000 customers.

AT&T's long history with the Wisconsin State Journal's SOS column

AT&T and other telecommunications companies are the source of regular complaints to the newspaper's consumer-assistance column.

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"I’ve even blocked the email addresses that come in, but they send messages from a different address each time," Jeff Smith said.

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After a year of haggling with AT&T, John and Carole Rusch say they were willing to make a contribution of $823.46 to the telecommunication…

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"Time will tell if this actually fixed it," Darlene said, but she was "hopeful" that it had.

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"Don't ask for a pass code!" the couple wrote to the company on Nov. 10. "We don't have one. No one ever contacted us to get one!"

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"When the technician arrived the next day, it took him about three seconds to fix the problem," Boyd said.

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Fifty-eight bucks a month for AT&T landline and internet service, she said, ordered over the phone, in perpetuity and with no contract.

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"They have threatened me with collection agency companies calling on their behalf."

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Each kept blaming the other for the problem.

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Incredulous and less-than-completely satisfied.

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"How can you tell me you took $195 out of my cards and you don't know where it went?"

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