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Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Scam-Residential Email/ESBI: semi-legal, totally shady internet scam!!

This is one you can't really recognize, unlike the 419 scams which have a hallmark ring to them or even just print at all! So, this one isn't one you fall for really, knowingly, but one more like identity theft where you just notice it one day if you are one to examine bills before forking over your money.

On our bill this past month for our local phone carrier,EMBARQ, my husband noticed a $14.95+$1.01tax charge for "Residential Email Mo Fee" on a separate page labeled "ESBI" with an explanation of 3rd party billing. Whaaa?? Our email is cable, for one thing. For another, WE DIDN'T SIGN UP FOR ANYTHING! Well, my husband called them (Residential Email, number provided), cussed them out and told them we weren't paying. They said ok. No arguments. Someone backing down that easily knows they are shady and in the wrong. Apparently, while he was yelling, the rep kept trying to tell him about the "service" to get him to "keep" when he'd take a breath. She mentioned something about $1000 in coupons she claims he signed up for on the internet or some idiotic thing. I called the next day to ask what she had on file and she had our phone and home address and my husband's email. (So it was him and not me!) She wanted to give me her sales pitch while she was bringing up our record (we have a record for something we didn't order?), but I cut her off and said I don't want to hear it, I think you are scamming people, and I just want to know how to avoid this so please tell me how we got on this list. As a matter of fact, when you call in, they ask you to type in your phone number like you are inquiring about a legitimate phone company charge before you speak with a representative.

You local carrier is allowed to pass on 3rd party charges, so that's legal. I think you can get that "feature" blocked-we're looking into that today. The companies, or at least one I saw while researching this situation, has a "F" rating with the BBB. Go figure!

From what I can gather, you "sign up" for this by entering sweepstakes, filling in your info for a free this or that, taking online surveys, etc. Some people found that the email address on file wasn't even theirs. All, like us, didn't directly sign up for this garbage. Apparently it is in the Terms and Conditions when you are filling online forms (generally for stuff unrelated to this Residential Email company) that they are allowed to bill you, etc. I find it incredibly unfair and shady to advertise one thing, have your sign up window below that, then in fine print (or separate link) to Terms which have nothing to do with what you think you are signing up for, but really are other opportunist, scum charging you for a bogus service.

Here are some links to blogs and info about this:
The first is the BBB thing I found, the second is an account similar to ours.

Here's my Rip Off Report for McDonald's:

Call me a complainer, but I won a Shell Gas Card in the 2008 McDonald's Monopoly online game (Free Parking space) and never saw it. They said they sent it (surprise), so I guess that makes me a liar. True, I didn't lose any money, but it still deserves some sort of mention.

1 comment:

  1. Here are some other useful links.

    If you were charged on your residential or local phone bill for services you did not authorize or order, you can share your cramming story with other phone customers here:

    You might also try contacting class action lawyers investigating telephone cramming cases: