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FIGHT BACK : UNSCRUPULOUS PHONE SLAMMERS TRICK PEOPLE INTO OK'ING CHANGE.

Byline: David Horowitz

It always seems to happen when people sit down to dinner. The phone rings, and a caller asks you some innocuous question like, ``Are you happy with your long-distance company?'' You think for a moment and answer, ``Pretty much! It's OK most of the time.'' Then, the telemarketer says, ``Can I put you on hold?'' You politely say yes and wait for the voice to continue. Nothing happens. You hang up and quickly forget about the incident. It is not until your next telephone bill arrives that you are shocked to find out you have a new long-distance carrier, ``On Hold Communications.'' There is no explanation of what happened to MCI/WorldCom, AT&T, Sprint or whatever long-distance company you selected out of the nearly 500 national competitors. You have just been ``slammed.'' Literally made a dummy of by some not-so-funny and shrewd rip-off artist.

Slamming is simply the illegal art of having your long-distance company changed without your knowledge or permission.

The major long-distance carriers have all been accused of slamming at one time or other, and most have paid heavy fines for being involved in the practice. It's still hard for me to believe that they actually told their sales people to use sleazy tactics to fool people and slam them. I've always maintained business is in business to stay in business and not give customers the business, or they go out of business. How do you know you've been slammed? What do you do about it?

Reverse `slam'

If you want to return to your original long-distance company, call your local telephone company, explain that you have been slammed, and ask to be switched back to your original carrier with no ``charge changes.''

Call the company that has slammed you. Demand to be rebilled at the rates your original carrier would have charged. Use the company's 800 number listed on your telephone bill and call on their quarter.

Then, call your original long-distance service and explain that you've been slammed, and tell them that you want to switch back and be re-enrolled in any special calling plan available, providing the rates are equal or lower than what you paid before.

Then, send a letter describing the problem with a photocopy of your phone bill to the Federal Communications Commission, 1919 M Street NW, Washington, D.C. 20554. Or call the FCC complaint line toll-free at 1-888-CALL-FCC. That will send a loud and clear message to the ``slamming'' company that there is a record of the problem and they could be prosecuted under federal and state laws.
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Copyright 1999, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

 
Article Details
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Title Annotation:L.A. LIFE
Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Feb 13, 1999
Words:432
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