And the Scams Go On

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yogi
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And the Scams Go On

Post by yogi » 08 Feb 2019, 15:08

Well, I couldn't just let the never-ending Christmas thread die without a substitute, could I? :lol:

Several years ago my wife graduated to a smart phone. I stayed with the flip. When she bought it there was a service package attached to it. If she signed up with T-Mobile, there was this pay-as-you-go deal that was pretty good for its time. So she bought into it. T-Mobile provided the connection, but they passed on the billing to a company called Vesta. So, we got a bill from Vesta_T-Mobile every month. Wife was perfectly happy with the "unlimited" service while I stuck with Virgin Mobile for about half the price. Then again, I used my phone about 1/10th as much as she used hers.

On Cyber Monday I bought the Pixel. A couple weeks later it was delivered and was ready to go live with it, but Virgin Mobile didn't have an obvious way to make the switch. They were heavily into iPhone. But then I found a deal with T-Mobile where wife and I could have a joint account for less than any of the local competitors I looked at. The only glitch was that she had to change phone numbers. They could not move her old account over to the new joint account. I would have complained more but the price was right.

Life went on and we both are enjoying T-Mobile as much as anybody could enjoy such a thing. Today, I happened to be looking over my Chase credit card mobile app to see if something I did not receive yet was billed. I noted that there was a pending charge from Vesta_T-Mobile waiting to be posted. That's the account that was eliminated when we made the switch. It turns out that Vesta never stopped billing even though the service had stopped. Further research revealed that they are doing this a lot and also scamming AT&T people the same way. So, we called the credit card folks who gave us credit for the two past charges but could not credit us for the one pending. Apparently it's only "pending" and not on their books. Thus it can't be removed until it gets posted. WTF?

This will all be resolved when the charge does get posted, tomorrow. All we need to do is call the credit card people AGAIN, and explain what happened. We talked about companies not wanting to do their own bookkeeping because it adds a cost to the process. Well, here's a case where T-Mobile is having somebody else do their billing and their former customers are getting screwed. The problem is with Vesta, and not T-Mobile, which doesn't make it less frustrating. But I missed it for nearly three months and Vesta is perfectly happy billing me for something I'm not getting anymore.

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Kellemora
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Re: And the Scams Go On

Post by Kellemora » 09 Feb 2019, 11:34

Not with a cell phone company, but with my Comcast Cable Internet package.
The frau is who paid the bill, and the only thing she knew was that it was always going up.
They did not mail us a paper bill because she signed up for on-line billing.
Unfortunately, we could never access the actual invoice.
I did get a copy showing the total in my mailbox, but not an itemized list.
When I finally got an itemized list, I found out they were charging us for equipment we never owned.
My wife got on the horn to them, and they said they owned the equipment.
She gets frustrated easily, and gave up arguing with them over it.

I finally go access to an itemized bill and found several things wrong with what we were being billed for.
All in all, they billed us for over 1000 dollars in bogus charges, and this was after the government already fined them like 5 million bucks for doing so.
But, because of this, they got a concession from the government, that they do not have to pay anybody back more than 120 days worth of bogus charges.
By the time they did decide to pay up, we had paid in 1,200 dollars, and they only paid us back 120 dollars and kept the rest, legally.
We provided all the paid receipts for the equipment we owned that they were charging us rent on.
It took me several days to dig up all these receipts, but they did no good, other than they finally quit billing us for our own equipment.
But then they pulled another stunt. We don't have TV service with Comcast. Yet they sent a box for the TV.
We sent it back to them and they said we never did. Fortunately UPS provided us with the tracking number and date of delivery of the box back to Comcast. So they finally took that off our bill too.

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yogi
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Re: And the Scams Go On

Post by yogi » 09 Feb 2019, 13:39

Anything the cable company "gives" you is their property and they have the right to lease it to you. They don't have the right to bill you for items they never gave you, of course. Your experience, and mine, just reinforce a long standing policy I follow with bill paying. Don't go paperless and don't allow automatic payments. It's extremely difficult to resolve issues when you are trying to deal with a dumb computer in somebody's billing department. Sending checks and monthly paper bills are getting difficult to use. My bank, for example, is now charging me a $2 monthly service charge because I won't go paperless with them. I thought about it and looked into the app they offer with their paperless system. The very first thing I discovered is that the app doesn't work with Pixel phones. Guess what kind of phone I have. :mrgreen:

I have to admit that I was extremely happy and surprised that our credit card company did what they did. I discovered the erroneous charge by accident and called it in immediately. They discovered I've been getting this charge for three additional months. They refunded those charges with only my word for what had happened. Then again, I've been using Chase credit cards forever. I must have sent them nearly a million dollars in purchases over the years. I rarely, if ever, paid interest on that but the businesses I dealt with made Chase rich.

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Kellemora
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Re: And the Scams Go On

Post by Kellemora » 10 Feb 2019, 10:30

I used to never use plastic, wrote checks for nearly everything.
Trouble is, large companies with monthly billing want to do everything automatically and electronically.
The frau who handles our cable bill got a price reduction by starting a new contract with them, but it was only available if you used direct withdrawal from your bank.
I have a couple that instead of using my bank, I got a credit card that pays cash back, and use it for automatic payments.
I don't use it for anything else, as I have another that works the same way, and also deposits into my savings account each month. The first one I mentioned, I have the cash back roll into a payment on the credit card. Then I cut them all a check every month so I never owe any interest.
Being retired, I don't buy very much, but even with not doing so, I have still made over 800 bucks in cash back transfers to my savings over the past couple of years.

My bank still sends me a paper statement each month, but they charge me 3 bucks to take a picture of my checks and print them on the back of the statement. There are still numerous places, especially government entities, who say your cancelled check is your receipt. At least they accept the image on the back of the bank statement as proof of payment.

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yogi
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Re: And the Scams Go On

Post by yogi » 11 Feb 2019, 09:59

Plastic money is the only way to go, but it is being replaced by 'pixelated' money. LOL I've heard of it and have a few choices that I can go with, but I never enabled the option. I want to look into it further before I commit. I like the idea of flashing my clever-phone in front of a scanner and suddenly my bill is paid. I have a feeling that the credit card company is still in the loop with this process which would be a reason for me not to switch. I would consider doing it this way if I can automatically debit my checking account and leave the credit people out of the transaction altogether. I'm not certain it's at that point yet.

Cashback is a marvelous thing that is paid for by the charges each retailer must pay for credit card transactions. It is wonderful for me but there are two shops that I know of in town that are closing because of the excessive fees they must pay. It's a Catch-22 for them because most people don't want to shop where credit cards are not honored, but use of the credit cards is adding cost to the products. Those added costs are forcing people to look elsewhere for better prices.

I'm dealing with Chase and I don't know if they an option to direct deposit my cashback earnings. I do know they made a deal with Amazon. I get messages from Amazon telling me how much money I have available from the cashback program with my credit card company and that I should use those monies to buy something from Amazon. Great idea, but it's none of Amazon's business what I do with my credit card. So, I now have a policy of not buying anything via Amazon. This deal between them and Chase is one reason I'd seriously consider switching to electronic payments via my clever-phone.

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Kellemora
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Re: And the Scams Go On

Post by Kellemora » 11 Feb 2019, 12:58

I had a Merchants Account for many years. I had options on it that upped the price considerably also. Such as the ability to take a check and run it through electronically and have the funds guaranteed before I let the customer leave with my goods.
I actually got the account when I had several rental properties. Plus was doing a few flea market type sales of things I took out of houses I was renovating.
Had one interesting incident happen. I had a doll house that one of my kids no longer wanted. I put an ad for it in the paper and a lady came by my house to take a look at it. She wanted it and asked me to hold it for her so she could go to the bank and get the money. I asked her if she had a credit card, because I could charge it to her credit card.
She liked this idea because she could spread the payments out over a couple of payments.
When she got the bill from the credit card company, she didn't recognize my company name and disputed the charge.
When the CC company called me, I said she bought a doll house. They relayed the info to her, and she called me to apologize. She had never been to a garage sale that took credit cards before, and although surprised, she forgot all about it by the time the bill came.
When I got rid of all the rental houses, there was no longer a need to keep a merchants account for collecting rents.

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yogi
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Re: And the Scams Go On

Post by yogi » 12 Feb 2019, 09:39

I had an experience similar to the one you describe with your Merchant Account.

Wife and I went downtown Chicago one afternoon to check out some arts and craft show she was interested in. We made a date of it and had late lunch before visiting the show. As it happened my wife found an art piece that she liked and wanted to buy it. For some reason the seller could not take a credit card but would take a personal check. The check was written and I didn't see him verify it in any way, but I had no problem if he didn't have a problem. LOL Well actually, I did have a problem. There wasn't enough money in the checking account to cover the check we wrote. I knew that in advance but didn't think there would be an issue because I could transfer funds instantly in the morning, before the check would clear.

It turns out that in the morning when I got online to make the transfer an NSF charge had already been made against that check. I don't know how he did it, and he certainly didn't do it while I was there watching him. The NSF charge is applied at the end of the business day for the bank so that I figured there would be plenty time to cover it in the morning. But the check I wrote got through the Federal Reserve System and to my bank the same day and in less than a couple hours. Normally that takes a few days to happen, but this fellow had an inside line. I would have asked him to delay the deposit if I knew he could do it so quickly, but I had no idea. :cry:

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Kellemora
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Re: And the Scams Go On

Post by Kellemora » 12 Feb 2019, 11:41

Many large banks offer business customers paperless deposit. Saves the bank money, but it a pain for businesses who take a lot of checks, unless they have a check scanner, but even then, they have to enter the amount manually.
A lot of stores these days, if you write them a check, they run it through a reader and hand your check back to you.
If you have overdraft protection at the bank, it will go right through, if not, your check may be declined.

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yogi
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Re: And the Scams Go On

Post by yogi » 13 Feb 2019, 08:28

The incident I mentioned is the reason I bought into overdraft protection at my bank. However, I had to use it one time and while it allowed my check to go through they still charged a fee. Not only that, the protection is in reality a line of credit on which they charged me interest. What kind of protection is that?

The thing that bothers me most is that it literally costs the bank nothing to process my NSF. I have three accounts with them: one for checking, a money market fund, and the line of credit. Each one is an entry in a computer memory slot associated with my account. No actual money or people are involved when moving these funds around. The only time cash actually gets passed is when I use their ATM machine, and the bank doesn't even own that. I can see the reason for the fee as being a deterrent, but it costs them nothing either way.

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Kellemora
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Re: And the Scams Go On

Post by Kellemora » 13 Feb 2019, 14:08

I've been with the same bank now for nearly 40 years. It has changed hands several times during that time. After one of the changes they were a hassle to deal with until they got all their records updated. I kept the convoluted set of tracking numbers on a card in my pocket so the tellers could find me in their system. But once the system was updated, I've never had a problem with them since. They've even watched my back for me a couple of times when some unscrupulous lawyers illegally stole money out of my account. The bank caught it before I did and put the money right back in from their own funds while they tracked down the money and got it back from the lawyers. They broke numerous laws, but of course, being lawyers they were never punished for their illegal shenanigans.

I may have mentioned this incident a few years ago.
My late wife pre-ordered a few Christmas gifts to be delivered right before Christmas, nothing major.
Because of her health conditions we carried a life insurance policy through the credit card.
Should she die, the insurance would pay off 'her' credit card, which was a low limit card to start with.
There was a stipulation in the insurance agreement that I also had to quit using my card.
I knew this so cut it up and threw the pieces away.

The credit card company did not honor the insurance agreement from day one. They did not pay off her balance, what they did do was make interest free payments each month. They were hoping I would make a charge somewhere along the line and cause the insurance to be canceled.
I never did, but here is what did happen.
Come a week before Christmas, and the companies she ordered gifts from, ran the charges for her gifts and shipped them out.
This created charges to the account after she passed away, even though the sale was made before she died.
I tried to fight it but they have their own rules which are not written in the insurance contract anywhere.
Because I paid for life insurance to pay her balance when she died, and they didn't do that, I refused to pay them any more money, and not pay for the charges she made.
They in turn took me to court and got a judgment against me, even though I was not the primary on the credit card.
They had another clause that said should the primary die, the secondary becomes the primary.
Even though I never used the credit card myself, ever.
I didn't pay the judgment against me, and they had nothing they could do, since my atty said I was judgment proof.

Now, back to the bank changing hands. In the three day interim it took for the records to change hands, the St. Louis lawyers contacted their TN lawyers to hurry up and snatch money out of my account before the bank could verify they were allowed to do this or not. Two problems here, I did not have a bank account in TN, but the bank was national, so I did have access to my account here in TN. The second problem was it was a business account and an LLC account.
It is illegal to take money from a business account or an LLC to cover a personal debt.
When the bank was verifying records at the end of the day, they caught the fact a personal judgment against me was paid to the law firm from an LLC by them associating my SSN with the LLC EIN number. Knowing it was illegal for them to pay out those funds, they immediately put those funds back into my account.

This irked the lawyers big time, hi hi, so they tried to get a second judgment against me on the card I never used, not once, ever. They did this by making me the primary and using the secondary card number as belonging to the primary.
This time I had a judge who figured out what they were trying to do and he tossed it out, as being double jeopardy.

Up until about three years ago, those same lawyers would subpoena my companies bank statement from the headquarters of the bank, now in Chicago I think. I know they were looking for something they could call co-mingling of funds to launch another attack. I guess they never found a questionable transaction, because they finally gave up.

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yogi
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Re: And the Scams Go On

Post by yogi » 14 Feb 2019, 09:01

I think the Special Counsel Robert Mueller would like to have a few words with you about money laundering. :lol:

All I can add to your interesting story is that ordering an item is not the same as buying the item. In every case that I've purchased goods online my credit card was not charged until the item shipped. I currently have something ordered and is backlogged for nearly a month now. My card has not been billed. In fact I'm thinking about canceling the order and going elsewhere. Thus the timing of credit card charges is similar to check cashing. Your account is not always billed at the moment you place an order.

As far as "fine print" goes, it's always caveat emptor. Buyer beware! I don't know of anyone who actually reads the fine print of what they sign, and if they do they don't understand it fully. The only way to go into such dealings is with the knowledge that the contract is written to protect the other guy. You are the one they are being protected from. LOL

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Kellemora
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Re: And the Scams Go On

Post by Kellemora » 14 Feb 2019, 12:41

In a small way, I got the last laugh.
The amount of the charges for gifts she ordered was under 100 bucks.
Insurance paid down the 200 which was on the card already to around 160 bucks when the new charges appeared.
So, for only 250 dollars owing and supposed to be covered by the insurance we paid.
They had to have spent a couple of thousand dollars trying to collect it.
Then down the road a few months, they tried again, which probably cost them another grand.

FWIW: At the time I still had the written agreement for the coverage and what it covered.
The actual policy with all the fine print didn't come until later, and it did not agree with what the agreement had stated on it. Nor did either document define how the payments would be made.

We went through something similar with a burial plan we purchased. We have ALL of the paperwork outlining what was covered and what wasn't. We did not get the final paperwork until it was all paid off. The final paperwork had things in it that did not agree with the outline we agreed to.
We took both to an attorney to look at, and he circled the items that disagreed and contacted the insurance company. He got us back the papers with the clauses excluded, and our original agreement restated properly on the paperwork.
Sneaky how they promise one thing, in writing, then provide another document that gives them an escape from providing the service they promised.

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Re: And the Scams Go On

Post by yogi » 15 Feb 2019, 09:01

It's called "bait and switch" which is totally illegal from what I understand. They get away with it because few people are as organized or persistent as you are.

You are right about the hidden costs of trying to collect a debt. I'm certain the company spend more on recovery than they would have spent on just paying off what they were supposed to in the first place. The reason they they did what they did is certainly because it was more profitable for them to scam people with their bait and switch scheme. They know they were wrong which is why they amended the agreement after your attorney wrote them. But I bet they never changed the way they do business in spite of it being illegal.

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Re: And the Scams Go On

Post by Kellemora » 15 Feb 2019, 11:00

On the bright side, our policy is rock solid now. Each item on it is written in plain language as clear as it can be.

I got burned once many years ago on an invention. They changed one word from Pen to Unit, claiming it was so it would cover Pen Barrels too. This was fine until they sold my contract to the company who produced the ink. To them, one unit was a 30 gallon carboy of ink. So needless to say I made nothing after that.
However, I did get my comeuppance when they sold my contract to yet another ink company.
The latest company was ready to fork over big bucks based on the terms of the contract to the company they bought the contract from. I told them what they did to me, and they used that as a way not to pay the other company, and did pay me about 1/3 of what the other company owed me out of the goodness of their heart. We struck a new deal and they paid me fairly, but still no where near what my original contract was intended to net.

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Re: And the Scams Go On

Post by yogi » 16 Feb 2019, 10:00

I've heard that story before. Not only can one word change the entire meaning of a contract, but something as simple as a comma will do it too.

While I'm an ardent supporter of simple language in a contract, there are times when the protection intended can only be had by spelling it all out in legalese. If you ever read some of those Terms Of Service (TOS) documents that go along with using public web sites, such as Facebook, you would never go there. Even reading some news platforms have terms that seem unnecessarily restrictive. It's ok to read the news, but you can't copy, rebroadcast, or duplicate it in any way shape or form, which would seem to include talking about it.

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Re: And the Scams Go On

Post by Kellemora » 16 Feb 2019, 11:57

I hear ya Yogi!

Almost all the wording used in TOS agreements is to protect them, and use us as they see fit.

One of the big three TV Syndicates, I think it was CBS, went after WayBackMachine for making copies of their Index page. WayBackMachine won the case. I forget the exact reason, but it had something to do with it was placed before the Public Sector in a Public Place in a non-restrictive manner, meaning the Internet is a Public Place.

I remember back when I read about it, there were several other things mentioned which are still considered Private, especially if you have to become a member of a website to see the content. So, just because it is on the Internet, doesn't necessarily mean it is in a Public Place on the Internet.

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Re: And the Scams Go On

Post by yogi » 16 Feb 2019, 18:39

As a matter of fact we here at Brainformation fit into the not all that public category. :grin:

There is one forum that is hidden from public view and can be seen only when you are a logged in member. So, anything taken from there can be contested. I don't have any copyright issues, even though I technically own everything you see here. In fact it probably would benefit us if somebody did steal our content, but only if they gave us credit too. The major news sites don't see things the way we do here. They DO copyright their content and write their TOS to warn people about it. There have been a few times when I wanted to reproduce something in our forums and wrote to the authors/publishers for permission. Invariably they did not respond to my request. So, at some point in the past I claimed we can use copyrighted content on a "fair use" basis. We are no different than library in that regard. So far I never received a take-down order. LOL

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Re: And the Scams Go On

Post by Kellemora » 17 Feb 2019, 12:08

Ha ha, they would have to be a member to come in and see if you posted something from their website.
And since the site is private per se, you didn't post it to the general public.
Then their is the question of whether or not it was theirs, or did it come off the wire.

Back when I played music, I had to pay ASCAP and BMI to play any songs they owned or controlled.
BMI got ridiculous so I just paid ASCAP and didn't play any BMI songs for hire in public.
My biggest problem was not with ASCAP or BMI though, I couldn't play in any Union controlled facility.
There were exceptions. But usually it meant I had to pay Union Scale for a musician, even though they were not there to play. One of the exceptions is when I played the calliope on the US Admiral Riverboat. In this case I was filling in for a Union musician as his guest.
But the Unions are why I never played for weddings. Most reception halls are locked up by the Unions.
By the way, the way copyrights work on music, at least back then, it was possible for a copyright never to expire, if a company owned the music and kept renewing the copyright, something the actual authors cannot do.

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Re: And the Scams Go On

Post by yogi » 18 Feb 2019, 15:47

The way I see Brainformation forums is that anybody can read what they can see when they land here. In that sense it is a public site. The Administration and the Members Only forums are invisible to the public. Since I claim fair use of any copyrighted content, that means we are a public source of information. Nothing unique here is copyrighted and anything that is copyrighted is owned by somebody else. I discovered that the author may have rights to the original material, but a lot of websites out there supersede their rights in their TOS. Any arguments we might evoke would not likely be with the original authors, but with the TOS issuers.

Music rights is about as convoluted as it gets. I go to a website where I can download music tracks and listen to them privately off line. Those are in mp3 format. I can also download specially formatted tracks that can be made into playlists for that site only. The rule is that I cannot listen to those playlists on that site unless I have at least one other person in the group listening along with me. plus there must be three or more songs in the playlist. The reason for this funny business is the licensing. Licenses for private listening are different than licenses for public listening. The private rights are about twice the price.

Weddings these days are dominated by DJ's. Live bands seem to have gone the way of the DoDo bird. I'd hate to see the contract that the DJ's get involved with for the music they play. :lol:

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Re: And the Scams Go On

Post by Kellemora » 19 Feb 2019, 12:10

I don't know about the current rates for DJs. But they used to be the same rate as a Jukebox. $75.00 to ASCAP and I believe it was $125.00 to BMI annually. Plus the city/county license stickers which varied considerably.
Live bands and orchestra's were a little different, and it was geared to performances and locations.
It wasn't prohibitively expensive to play in a small nightclub with only 30 to 50 average patrons per night we played music.
But as I said before, my playlist no longer included BMI controlled titles, only ASCAP and Public Domain.
I have no idea what it is like today, since I've not played since the mid-1980s.

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