Check your phone bills for the past few months for a bogus $14.95 charge (+$.46 tax) from “OAN Ideal Savings Now.” A message on our voicemail hotline tipped us off, and online complaints, like these 188, echo our reader’s grievance. It’s called cramming, and it’s illegal.
To get the charge removed, just call up your provider and complain. They will verify it with the 3rd party who, according to this complaint on ripoffreport, will say that you signed up on X date using such and such email address. The ripoffreport complaint says that the email address they cited was one the guy hadn’t used in years.
Original Consumerist reader voicemail tip:
Part of the problem is that with 3rd party billing, “FCC rules do not allow the landline provider…to question the third-party charges from OAN or anyone else,” says Michael Sisto of the New Hampshire Public Utilities Commission – a loophole some of these 3rd party companies are only too happy to exploit. Additionally, the carriers get a cut of each third-party charge they process and pass on to the customer.
Reached for comment, a Verizon spokesperson said, “Our customers have the tools to limit – or eliminate – many levels of data services, including messaging. From full-on block to limiting with no premium SMS capabilities, to blocking all data entirely on MY VERIZON, where you see your bill.”
OAN’s parent company, BSG Clearing Solutions, has a C rating with the BBB, with 726 complaints filed against them. The majority were billing and collection issues.
Reached for comment, a BSG spokesperson said they were merely a billing agent for 3rd party phone service providers and they maintained strict standards for accepting clients. They hypothesized that the consumer “doesn’t recognize the charge because it is being billed through ESBI; a spouse made a charge without notifying their partner, or the consumer simply forgot.”
In the event of a dispute, the company recommendeds contacting the service provider, requesting a refund from their phone company, having a block against 3rd party charges put on their account, or requesting a block and refund via BSG.
“BSG has done more to prevent fraud in the third-party billing industry than any other company,” they said.