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Telecom Cost Control

While scrutinizing an AT&T phone bill for a client recently, I discovered some mysterious charges on the very last page of the bill. Poorly labeled and weakly described were services for webhosting for $39.95 per month from a company called These charges had been billed for over two years without anyone noticing. In this case the charges were in error and I was able to obtain a refund for my client, but I have seen other cases where the charges were downright fraudulent (referred to as “Cramming”). This practice of the phone company billing for other companies is referred to as “third-party billing” and is legal when done properly. Legal or not, you want to be aware of it.

So first of all, you need to read your phone bill every month. Carefully! These and other types of charges, legitimate and not, can find their way onto your bill and you need to catch them early. If you see something on your bill and you don’t know exactly what it’s for, call the carrier and get the explanation you are entitled to.

Second, you can protect against surprises like the Bizzfinders charge above by having your carrier put a block on Third-Party billing. It’s not total protection against over-billing, but it does plug one of the holes.


Reference URL:


Douglas Guy
Title: Consultant
Company: D W Guy
(Consultant, D W Guy) |

We got crammed with 3rd billing supposedly authorized by one of our employees, the TP party claimed birthdate confirmation etc. Regardless, we could not block all TP billing as some of it necessary from a corp edict. We were able to appoint a single touch point with our vendor. They will make no changes to our account without specific instruction and authorization from that one individual.

Mark Von Der Linn
Title: Principal
(Principal, |

Thanks for pointing out that there is more than one way to protect yourself. Such arrangements should made in writing and confirm that your carrier has recorded things in your account Notes. Should they drop the ball at some point, this will help greatly with getting a refund.
Don't let the "employee authorization" deter you from demanding a refund. In my example, the vendor had an actual recording of an employee authorizing the charges, but I was still able to get a refund.


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