WI - Ameritech Billing Glitch

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Title: Ameritech overcharges customers in billing glitch

On two April days, calls normally costing a nickel billed as 5-cents-a-minute

Source: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

By Lawrence Sussman of the Journal Sentinel staff May 12, 2000

For two days last month, Ameritech customers in the 262 area code last month were charged 5 cents a minute for calls that should have cost just a nickel, the phone company said Friday.

The snafu, blamed on a computer glitch, is the latest in a string of billing and service problems tied to Ameritech. The computer glitch occurred during a system upgrade.

In this incident, some Ameritech customers in the 262 area code were billed for toll calls, rather than the correct local calls made to numbers in the 414 area code on April 20 and 21, an Ameritech spokeswoman confirmed.

That means that April telephone bills contained toll charges of 5 cents a minute for the calls instead of what should have been 5-cent calls, said spokeswoman Jody Juckem, who is based in Chicago.

For one Waukesha customer, the problem turned four local calls to an Internet service provider, which should have cost 20 cents, into a bill for $9.72.

Ameritech will credit customers for the overcharge on their May telephone bills, Juckem said. Ameritech plans to send letters out in the coming week explaining the refund.

She said the average telephone customer should receive a credit of about $5 on the next telephone bill.

Customers in the 262 area code include almost everyone outside of Milwaukee County who formerly had 414 area codes. That involves most customers in Waukesha, Washington and Ozaukee counties.

"We don't know exactly how many customers were affected," she said. "We're investigating it. We do apologize for the inconvenience."

If customers have questions about their bills, they can call Ameritech at (800) 924-1000.

State regulators said Friday night that they had been made aware of the problem by midweek but were waiting for a report from Ameritech to determine the extent of the problem.

State Rep. Tim Hoven (R-Port Washington) alerted the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel to the overcharges.

"While I understand mistakes can happen, this is just the latest incident in a series of events involving Ameritech practices that have infuriated Wisconsin consumers," Hoven said. "Over the last two months, I've heard more from constituents regarding their displeasure with Ameritech than any other issue."

Ameritech came under criticism for the lack of a 911 line that delayed the Cedarburg Police Department from moving into its new police station for about a month.

Listings in Ameritech phone books also have had problems. Government listings in the Milwaukee white pages had so many errors that Ameritech agreed to reprint the section and hand-deliver it free of charge last February.



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