I had intended to wax poetic about the rain we had last night. One and five eighths inches worth, the first we have had in months. It's not enough to break the drought, but it's a start.
That idea went on the back burner when the phone bill came.
In and of its self the phone bill isn't a big deal. This time however, the dreaded third party billing scam again reared its ugly head. It took the form of a charge from ENHANCED BILLING SER on behalf of BUSINESS VALUES ONLINE. The phone company was kind enough to provide their contact number, but would have no part of dealing with the situation.
So, I called.
I began the call by asking the rep what the h#l* Enhanced Billing Ser (that's how it appears on the bill) was. He recovered quickly and explained they handled billing for an enhanced online listing service.
I should explain here that I follow a standard routine when I get sales calls, or calls offering any free service. I start by asking "Is this going to cost me money now or at any time in the future?" You would be surprised how quickly that question cools their enthusiasm. If they say yes, as they usually do, I tell them I'm not interested and want no further contact.
Sometimes they say no and that they just want to update their data base. I tell them I don't want to be in their data base. Sometimes they say it's the yellow pages and there has to be a listing. I don't think there has to be a listing, but tell them nothing has changed. I avoid answering any question in the affirmative.
Sometimes they bill you anyway. That's what happened here. It is a crooked but time tested practice to send a bill to people or companies for goods and services they didn't request and / or never received, and hope they pay without checking. You might be surprised how often it works. Not all sneak thieves take physical goods or funds from you. Sometimes they ask you to send them yourself.
When confronted the charges were immediately dropped. They assured me they would not be relisted and that I would not be contacted again. We will see.
I should point out here to keep an eye out for this sort of thing. I have had the same company put their charges back onto my phone bill (in this case a website I never wanted) two and three times. Also, If memory serves me correctly, you can only be reimbursed for ninety days. Anything more than three months old they can keep because you didn't challenge them.
I hate sneak thieves. If I can keep one person from being ripped off by these scams, it is a good day.