Verizon Keeps On Billing Guy Who Canceled Service

Gregory canceled Verizon, but Verizon didn’t cancel him. The company kept on billing him every month, and every month he’d call to get the charges wiped away, which the CSR promptly did.

The problem kept continuing, though, and now Verizon sent the phantom bill to collections. He writes:

I am contacting you because I really could use some help with Verizon high speed internet and phone. My (now) wife and I moved out of our old apartment on 6/15/09, and notified Verizon that we were canceling our service effective immediately.

Every month since then, Verizon has continued to try and bill us for either the phone, the internet, or both services. Every month, I call them and get the charges waived and the account closed again. Every month, they fail to close the account and another month’s bill shows up.

This month, Verizon decided to send the bill to a collection agency. So now this is negatively affecting my credit report, not to mention that I still have to deal with this month by month. At this point, “IC Systems” is handling the debt so I assume Verizon is no longer going to work with me on resolving this.

What should Gregory do? Maybe send an Executive Email Carpet Bomb to the company’s top brass?

(Photo: Matt McGee)

Comments

Edit Your Comment

  1. donnie5 says:

    Maybe he can have the telemarketing company, Avaya, pay the bill for him.

    • Pibbs says:

      @donnie5: Lol, I was thinking the same thing.

      Company pays non-employee, non-employee keeps money: Felony.

      Company bills customer who cancels service, customer pays no money, goes to collections to try and extort money from customer: No Felony?

      I know, pay the bills, then take them to court for theft and have the prosecutor recommend six years in jail for the top brass at Verizon. That’ll teach ‘em!

    • ohenry says:

      @donnie5: I know the story you’re referring to, but unless there is another company by the same name, Avaya is not a “telemarketing” company, rather, a “telecommunications” company. We use their phone systems at my job.

  2. GearheadGeek says:

    File against Verizon in small claims, since apparently going through channels with Verizon had no effect. If the OP has any documentation of his attempts to cancel, it should be a slam-dunk and if their legal department actually learns of the suit before the court date, it might be settled promptly out of court.

  3. Colonel Jack O'Neill says:

    Write Verizon a letter saying that it was canceled, then if they keep billing you, file a complaint with the FTC, the BBB, consumer affairs.

  4. shepd says:

    STOP CALLING.

    You must send them mail after they continue to screw up. Paper trails are important. If regular mail doesn’t work, you send them a final notice that you dispute the charges and that you will be ignoring further billing pending their decision to bring the matter before the judge or not via registered mail.

    You can then sit back and, if creditors call, you can send them a copy of your mail to Verizon along with a notice that they must stop calling you. I’d also mention that the very fact that Verizon is sending disputed accounts to collections may possibly constitute some sort of fraud, or violation of (insert local credit protection law here).

    • LadySiren is murdering her kids with HFCS and processed cheese says:

      @shepd: Agreed. I’d comb over the Fair Debt Collections Act (might have the acronym wrong here) to see if you can sue for damages. It’s a pretty effective tool against corporations and debt collectors.

  5. RenegadeTempest says:

    Make sure to file a complaint with your state’ AG office. I find this to be the quickest way.

    Make sure to inform the collection agency that you have these complaints filed and a pending small claims case against the company. This will hopefully dissuade them from being overly aggressive, since they could end up named in the case and, more importantly, have little or no chance of collecting the phantom debt.

  6. Reading Rainbow says:

    I have a question. Two stories prior it about a company accidentally sending payroll checks to a guy (and him not informing them about it) for four years. He’s probably going to have jail time. How is this any different (minus timescale)? Straight up, isn’t Verizon effectively stealing from this guy (or ruining his credit)? Threaten criminal charges against them.

    • tbax929 says:

      @db4dbms:
      They’re sending him invoices, not stealing from him. If they were taking it out of his bank account, then I’d say that’s stealing.

    • Bob Lu says:

      @db4dbms: I kept asking this question whenever there is a post about a company’s error in customer’s favor.

      Someone finally argued that it is because that big companies are regulated by more complex tax and accounting lows, it is unfair to put the burden of finding individual customer related error – no matter in who’s favor – on them.

      While it does have its point, I’m still not convinced that it is fair to put all the blame on the customers.

  7. nwaasob says:

    Verizon pulled this kind of crap with me too. After years of trying to get it fixed I surrendered and sent them a check ($47.70) and a letter telling them that I was giving up and that I would never use anything with the Verizon brand again. A CSR called me to talk about it but in the end they happily cashed the check even though they admitted they were in the wrong. Fast forward 5 years and they send the bill to a collection agency anew. I pulled together pages and pages of documentation (cancelled checks, Verizon statements, bank statements) to show that I had already paid it but still Verizon wouldn’t talk to me. The collection agency did and immediately shut down their proceedings when I sent them a copy of the canceled check.

    No Verizon, never again. I tell everyone that I can about what they did to me.

    • pop top says:

      @nwaasob: Once it gets sent to collections, the original company you were dealing with no longer deals with you. A lot of people don’t understand that collections agencies literally buy debt from companies. Company X gets their money from the agency so they’re all set, so now you owe the agency the money. It is completely out of Company X’s hands at that point. So while you were right to do what you did, even if Verizon wanted to help you, they couldn’t.

      • nwaasob says:

        @squinko: Oh, I understand that — illegal to collect on the same debt from two companies and all that. My issue was with how Verizon dealt with everything, and particularly how they sent the same incorrect debt to a collection agency years after they had stolen from me and had absolutely nothing to say when they were proven to be wrong. There is no way to dice it except to conclude that Verizon is an evil thieving bastard.

    • Hil-fish says:

      @nwaasob: They tried this on me, too! 4 months after I closed my Verizon accounts and two months after receiving a final bill and one month after receiving a check from Verizon for the balance THEY owed ME, I got a bill from them.

      I will NEVER use them for home services again, and as soon as my cell phone contract is up, we’re ditching them. I’ve had enough of their shenanigans to last a lifetime.

  8. Quake 'n' Shake says:

    So when did AOL buy Verizon?

  9. nrich239 says:

    i’m having this exact same problem and got a letter from IC systems yesterday. Luckily for me, I have a verizon bill that shows “Payments owed 0.00 Final Bill”

    This agency can shove this debt right back up verizon’s inept billing systems.

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      @nrich239: I was just about to bring this up. When we canceled with Verizon, we received a statement just like that one with a statement of $0.00. I’m guessing the OP didn’t receive one, and as such, his account was never closed?

  10. tedyc03 says:

    How is it ok for a company to get a felony conviction against a guy who they paid for four years inproperly, but Verizon doesn’t get dinged?

    Corporate America must be better than the average joe, and this is just proof.

  11. Blueskylaw says:

    This may very well be a way for Verizon to add to their top line by selling nonexistent debt to collectors, who then have to find out for themselves that they themselves were fooled.

    Conspiracy theory?

  12. Naame says:

    AT&T has pulled the same crap with me a few times. It once took me a total of 5 months to reverse all of the charges that AT&T hit me with for their Uverse internet service which I never even got installed. The short version of the story is that I called to subscribe to the service, canceled immediately when the technician arrived due to unacceptable installation requirements, and I still got a bill the following 5 months even though the service was never installed in the first place.

  13. katstermonster says:

    +1 to the OP for correct use of “affect.” :)

  14. Jimmy Tango says:

    This exact thing happened to me during college! I was so pissed when I got a bill 6 months later that was sent to collections. Totally fucked my credit. Needless to say I will NEVER pay verizon another cent for the rest of my life.

    • PLATTWORX says:

      @Jimmy Tango:

      Nice langauge, Jimmy.

      How did one bill sent to collections “totall f***” your credit? How was your FICO score changed? Did you work to have this error corrected?

      • jimv2000 says:

        @PLATTWORX: If you don’t have much credit history (like most college students), I imagine that one bill sent to a collections agency can indeed fuck one’s credit.

  15. PLATTWORX says:

    “So now this is negatively affecting my credit report”

    It will? Did you check your credit report?

    Most large companies have their own in-house “collection agencies” which are not real seperate businesses. I agree you should have written Verizon long ago and kept a copy.

  16. tbax929 says:

    I had the same thing happen with Qwest. Maybe all the telecoms just suck.

  17. chocobo says:

    Is it true that if a collection agency is calling you, it harms your credit report?

    Paypal invented some bogus charges from years before I signed up for their service, then refused to reply to any emails I sent to them to ask how this could even be possible. A few weeks later, that same collection agency, IC Systems, was calling me demanding money.

    After a few days of repeating the same story, insisting that I will never pay because this is Paypal’s fault, it’s a completely bogus charge which I can easily prove could not possibly be real, they finally left me alone.

    I’m going to be pissed off if that messed up my credit score…

    • howie_in_az says:

      @chocobo: Whenever a collection agency calls you just ask for their address, then send a debt verification letter to them. 9 times out of 10 it will shut them up because they can’t prove you owe the debt, can’t prove they’re licensed to collect the debt, or can’t prove they’re authorized by the original creditor to collect the debt.

  18. yellowlight says:

    I had the opposite issue once, Verizon disconnected my service because I had a positive balance (because their credit system pays forward).

    Currently I am experiencing technical issues but I must warn you that the customer advocacy / presidential appeals / or any other department can not force another department to do anything. Also Verizon has different databases which might be where the problem is originating. A lot of times they can not check other information because there system blocks them. Even the customer advocate can not modify information, only put in a request (which has no teeth).

    They are able to provide you credit to compensate for your time I would demand that. It never hurts to try especially if you right.

  19. PsiCop says:

    The first and most obvious thing to do, in this particular case, is to send a physical letter … certified mail w/return receipt … to the collection agency, denying the debt is owed. If you do not, you may become liable for the debt by virtue of not having notified them that you’re protesting it. Keep multiple copies of this letter and of the green receipt-card showing they received it, you’ll need this later.

    More generally …

    The downside of dealing with a company like Verizon is they’re enormous and the inertia of their own bureaucracy as well as the fact that they can just throw their weight around, means getting them to do anything will be near impossible. That they sold this off to a collection agency means it’s even more likely they will refuse to lift a finger to do anything about it.

    The upside is that, as a utility, there are government agencies capable of intervening against them on the consumer’s behalf. A state public-utility control agency would be an obvious avenue to pursue. So too might a consumer-affairs agency (although in many states they don’t have jurisdiction over utilities). A state attorney general’s office would probably also like to know about this.

  20. crimebll says:

    Did I suffer some sort of blackout and write this article without realizing it? I had the exact same experience, right down to IC Systems

  21. coren says:

    Was the bill increasing every month (they thought he still had service and so he got a bill for 50, then 100, then 150 (plus late fees), was it the same bill every month (just with late fees tacked on), or was it one bill one month, or an entirely different one each time? Not that it excuses Verizon’s inability to cancel accounts, but if it’s the same bill every month there’s at least a sort of sense to it going to collections now (as opposed to a bill going after a month)

  22. catastrophegirl chooses not to fly says:

    at least he didn’t have it on automatic draft so they didn’t have access to his bank account. that’s one thing i have learned never to do again after a little incident with bellsouth some years back.

    ***still campaigning for use of the tag “zombie accounts”

  23. Gracegottcha says:

    I’m going through that same issue with Sprint right now. I canceled my cell phone service four months ago, paying it off completely. Yesterday, I received not one, but TWO bills for $639 – They keep charging me as if I were still a customer. It’s the same bill week after week with more and more fees and penalties tacked on.

  24. oldwiz says:

    I’d complain to your state’s public utilities commission. This is clearly another example of Verizon’s inability to bill customers properly. In Massachusetts, it’s the Department of Telecommunications and Cable. I had a dispute with Verizon, and after filing a written complaint with DTC, Verizon resolved it promptly, but not very nicely.

  25. momma_andrea says:

    Send a certified letter to the collections company. You have a limited amount of time to do that or they will assume you agree to the debt. There is a pretty good letter at [www.debtconsolidationcare.com] Theoretically, the collections company will verify with Verizon that you owe the debt and send you the documentation. This will take awhile and will give you time to work with Verizon to figure out what the deal is. In the mean time, contact the BBB and the other agencies that other posters have mentioned to see if you can get the situation handled.

  26. TheFuzz53 says:

    As I have said before, the FCC needs to strip this company of every license they have to do business until they a competent billing system put in place because the one they have is complete and utter shit.

  27. LawyerontheDL says:

    Good luck. I had to sue them. This is not an unusual thing for Verizon, I have found. I took them to small claims, they removed it to federal court and then realized that I am an attorney and was actually excited about the federal court removal because it’s easier to file pleadings. What a bunch of yahoos. The dispute was over less than $200. Supposedly they had authorized $20K in attorneys fees (not sure I believe that). All I can tell you is that they paid a hell of a lot more than $200 in attorneys fees and paid me for my costs.

  28. TechnoDestructo says:

    Physically bomb some Verizon cell towers.

  29. starbreiz says:

    Ugh, what is it with Verizon? I had the same exact same thing happen to me with Verizon. It’s pretty clear that their billing and service depts don’t speak. I would advise the OP to watch his cc statements also, because after I resolved my billing mess Verizon started billing me again a year later because the new resident at my old address started service. I thought it would have been illegal for them to bill an old cc for someone else’s new service.

  30. KMan13 still wants a Pontiac G8 says:

    it’s a shame that verizon is so great, but their billing departments (both mobile, and home) are so poor.

    Anyways, this definitely constitutes mail fraud (billing for something that isn’t owed)