If they don't bill me, do I still owe them?

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Joel Mack, Mar 12, 2002.

  1. Joel Mack

    Joel Mack Cinematographer

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    Here's a stickler:
    My current ISP stopped sending me bills about 11 months ago. I never really noticed it, because around that time, my wife had discussed putting that bill on an auto-pay withdrawl from our joint checking account (which she keeps track of). When the bills stopped coming, I assumed (ah ha!) the withdrawls were being made monthly.
    Turns out, they weren't making any withdrawls, and the auto-pay was never set up. So, for whatever unknown reason, they just stopped billing me, but kept the service up an running. In fact, I've even called them for network problems several times since the bills stopped coming and they never said a word to me about it.
    Now, last night, they shut the service off, and say I owe them $400+ for the last 11 months. My opinion is that if they wanted the money in the first place, they would have a) billed me, and b) sent a threatening letter or two and called me about my non-payment. To go 11 months without SNiP-ing (Suspend for Non-Payment) seems excessive. Don't most places follow up a little sooner than that?
    To make matters worse, their billing department apparently can't even be bothered to call me back about this (maybe my phone number is in the same file with my address?). Guess they really *don't* want the money very badly...
    Anyhow, long story short: I don't have $400+ to give these people. What are my legal obligations regarding payment?
    Any advice would be appreciated...
     
  2. MikeAlletto

    MikeAlletto Cinematographer

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    Unfortunately there is probably some fine print that says failure to receive a bill does not mean you don't have to pay it. Were you using the ISP for the 11 months? If so you should pay it. If not and you didn't call to cancel it then it is still your responsibility. You could call them up and ask to speak to a manager and explain the situation. But if you had been using it for that time then you'll have to pay it. When I moved to texas and got my first apartment it took forever for the post office to get my mail flowing right. Because of this I would miss bills and be hit with the late fees. I would just call them up and explain the situation and they would take the late fees off my bill.
     
  3. Shayne Lebrun

    Shayne Lebrun Screenwriter

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    Use of service tends to constitute accepting fees for said service. You signed up for it, you didn't cancel it, so you owe for it.

    But, of course, I am not a lawyer, and certainly aren't versed in the laws of your state or city. If it means that much to you, give the 400 to a lawyer who'll probably tell you what I said above. :)
     
  4. Philip_G

    Philip_G Producer

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    agreed, if you used it, pay for it. simple.

    now if you didn't sign on the entire 11 months then I wouldn't expect you to pay, but you did use their service.
     
  5. Brian Mansure

    Brian Mansure Second Unit

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    Joel,

    I'm curious, is your ISP provider Earthlink by any chance?

    I ask only because I had an account with them for about 2 years and all of the sudden we were disconnected a week ago without any warning. Now this was an account that my employer payed for but it was supposedly canceled because of similar billing issues as you described.

    Thanks,

    Brian
     
  6. Joel Mack

    Joel Mack Cinematographer

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    Actually, it's a local cable-modem service provider. I figured I was probably on the hook for the money, but I am pretty pissed off they didn't do anything sooner. If I wasn't in the middle of my divorce, I might have the money, but right now, I just don't...

    I guess I'll have to work something out with them. Fortunately, I have some leverage, as there are two cable-modem service providers here, and I can always threaten to walk if they won't work out something reasonable with me...
     
  7. MikeAlletto

    MikeAlletto Cinematographer

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  8. CameronJ

    CameronJ Stunt Coordinator

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    I've had two similar situations.

    In the first, with my local cable company, I setup service at my new house. After sending me a couple of bills, which I paid, I stopped getting them. Now I'm not the best bill payer in the world, so I just assumed that I had lost the bills. I sent them a check for $150 dollars (figuring that should cover a couple of months service). A month later, I get a check back from the cable company for $150. This happened a year and a half ago, and I'm still getting cable.

    In the second, I had long distance service with AT&T at an apt in Delaware for work. Never got a bill. I called AT&T numerous times, and still, never a bill.

    In the first situation, I figure that I have a good argument if they ever come back to me. I tried to pay them, but they obviously didn't want my money. Also, I think I could argue that I didn't use the actual cable service (I have an antenna, that's how I thought I was getting local channels).

    In the second, I've got no chance. Since I made long distance phone calls, I figure that I'm on the hook if they ever decide to bill me.

    I'm actually hoping the cable company catches on, because I want a dish. Since we're not paying anything for cable, I just can't justify paying for a dish.
     
  9. Joel Mack

    Joel Mack Cinematographer

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  10. Josh_Hill

    Josh_Hill Screenwriter

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  11. Jeff R.

    Jeff R. Stunt Coordinator

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    I had a situation with DirecTV where I got half off for three or four months. Well, a few months after my promotional period expired, I was still being charged the promotional rate. DirecTV found the error but said I did not have to pay the back-charges. That's how I personally think it should be but I don't know the legal issues regarding it.
     
  12. Jay Heyl

    Jay Heyl Stunt Coordinator

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    I think there might be some legal limit on how far back they can go to collect on unbilled services. I had a problem with my bank where they were charging me at a rate higher than they had agreed to. I didn't notice the problem until about a year later. They said something about only being required to go back a certain number of months to make corrections. (They did make it right, though, by giving me a discount on the next 12 months.)

    I also recall a situation with the condo association where I live. It's an odd arrangement, but we actually have two associations -- one for the community as a whole and a smaller one for the immediate vicinity where I live. A couple years ago the local association discovered it had been paying the bill for a water meter that belonged to the overall community association. This had been going on for over a decade. The local association wanted full reimbursement, but the community association said they were only leagally liable for the last six or twelve months. (I forget which.) I'm not sure how things ended up, but I'm pretty sure they went to court over it.
     
  13. DarrinH

    DarrinH Second Unit

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    I have the same situation with my cable company. I called to have it cut off back last June. They never did. Even issued me a check for part of a month. We are kind of out in a rural area and most people in my subdivision cut theirs off and got Direct TV or Dish anyway. Guess the maintenance crew just did not want to take the trip all the way up to cut it off for just one and it got forgotten. Had it free ever since, but someone is about to build in front of us this spring. It will be interesting to see if they sign up for cable or get a dish. I am afraid if they sign up for cable that my freebie will get discovered.

    In my case I called to have it cancelled. I wonder if they could backbill me?
     
  14. CRyan

    CRyan Screenwriter

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    Darrin. If you cancelled and was notified of your cancellation (them sending you refund for partial month), then you are fine. Cable companies often will simply not cut it off. At least that is how it used to be. They are becoming more diligent in the bigger cities it seems.

    I knew a lot of college friends that moved into their new places only to have "free" cable. Company simply neglected to turn off service when people cancelled and moved. Pretty stupid in a college area where people are constantly moving. I knew of whole apartment buildings getting cable for nothing.

    C. Ryan
     
  15. Eric Kahn

    Eric Kahn Guest

    When I canceled my cable (worthless warner close to being the anti-christ), I immediately unhooked my digital cable box and never checked to see if they actually unhookeds the normal cable connection, got dishnetwork unstead much better in my opinion
     
  16. Scott Leopold

    Scott Leopold Supporting Actor

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    My cousin had a somewhat similar situation with AOL. He had them for a couple months, then cancelled. After a month or two, he received another bill. He called and straightened it out with them, and requested that they send him a cancellation notice, which they did. Eighteen months later, he received a notice from AOL that his case was being turned over to a bill collector, and that he owed them in excess of $800. To this day, he has no idea how they came up with such a high bill, and they refused to send him an invoice detailing the charges. He dealt with them directly for several months, but got nowhere. He contacted the local Attorney General, the BBB, a lawyer, and a local television news team that troubleshoots problems for consumers, and soon had it all worked out. His saving grace was the cancellation notice. His lawyer and the person he dealt with in the Attorney General's office told him that if he hadn't had proof of cancellation, even though he didn't use the service, he most likely would have had to have paid. Valid or not, AOL was prepared to present documents showing that he (or at least someone using his information) had used his account.
     

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