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ATT Corporate shuffle

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Iwasntthere

Guest
What is the name of your state? Confusion - err, Oregon

I've got a (minor) problem with ATT and am, frankly, pissed. I'm hoping I have some recourse that is both punitive and financially viable. Any advice would be appreciated.

My problem is with ATT Worldnet Service and is, as stated above, minor, at least monetarily. It concerns an alleged balance of $14.95 being sent to a CA. I know, don't laugh, what pisses me off is the negative impact this whole situation has on my credit report. This situation apparently began in December of 2001, when I switched internet service from ATT Worldnet to ATT Broadband. All was well at that time, my bill was always paid in a timely matter to ATT Worldnet, my service smoothly transitioned to ATT Broadband, and my ATT Broadband bills were subsequently paid on time.

Today, I received a letter from 1st Revenue Assurance, a CA, demanding payment in full for $14.95, naming ATT Worldnet Service as the creditor. It states, among other things, that my account with ATT Worldnet is more than 90 days past due. I am concerned that I now have at least 1 negative in my credit report related to this account, maybe more. I don't know. I am requesting current copies of my file from the big 3 reporting agencies, but do not yet have them in hand.

I called ATT Worldnet and ATT Broadband Customer Service about this. They both made it clear that they were seperate entities and inferred that the problem was either mine or, at worst, the other ATT's. Worldnet did at least forward my complaint to a supervisor, with an assurance that they would follow up w/in 24-48 hrs.

I cannot speciffically remember all the events of my dealings with either ATT enterprise from 8 months ago, but I know this - I paid, and still pay, ALL my bills to ATT on time (including ATT Worldnet, ATT Broadband, ATT Cable TV, & ATT Universal Platinum Visa). I don't remember, and can't find documentation on, cancellation of ATT Worldnet Service. I MAY have assumed that a transition from ATT Worldnet to ATT Broadband included appropriate cancellation of the former account. At any rate, as stated above, I paid any bills sent me. Until today, I have received NO communication regarding this account from anyone, in any form. ATT obviously (as shown by the numerous accounts currently up to date) knew where to contact me before adversely affecting my credit rating.

My questions are as follows:
1. Is a creditor not required to send, and document, late notices or some other correspondence notifing an account holder of an alleged delinquincy before adversely affecting his/her credit?
2. If these ATT entities are indeed separate, shoudn't they be required to disclose that in a transaction similar to mine (Transfer of service from 1 ATT partner to another) and notify a customer of the necessity to cancel old service?
3. Can I sue to force them to correct entries to my credit report and possibly for damages arising from incorrect entries to my report? Is this a financially viable option?

Like I said, I'm pissed. I feel they at least blindsided me with a mistake on their part. Their mistake has had a negative impact on me. I have no assurance that they will even acknowledge their mistake, much less fix it promptly and in full. I want to get their attention and hope to force them to make greatly needed improvements to their customer service policies.
Thanks for consideration of my troubles...
 


JETX

Senior Member
Q1) "Is a creditor not required to send, and document, late notices or some other correspondence notifing an account holder of an alleged delinquincy before adversely affecting his/her credit?"
A1) There is no statutory requirement for a creditor to 'warn' a debtor of any adverse report. The only requirement is that the report to the CRA (Credit Reporting Agency) be accurate (this is covered in the FCRA - Fair Credit Reporting Act).

Q2) "If these ATT entities are indeed separate, shoudn't they be required to disclose that in a transaction similar to mine (Transfer of service from 1 ATT partner to another) and notify a customer of the necessity to cancel old service?"
A2) 'Should be required', maybe. 'Are required?', no. You as the customer are responsible for your paying your bill..... even in the event of cancellation. You should not have 'assumed' that these two entities (separately or together) would handle this for you.

Q3) "Can I sue to force them to correct entries to my credit report and possibly for damages arising from incorrect entries to my report? Is this a financially viable option?"
A3) No and no. If you truly owe the bill (even for $14.95) and IF it is truly 90 days overdue, then there is no error in your record.

"I feel they at least blindsided me with a mistake on their part."
Sorry, but I don't agree with you that this was their 'mistake'. YOU assumed that when you cancelled with one AT&T entity, the other would have either disappeared or been absorbed (or something). This assumption was clearly in error.... and was yours to verify.

"Their mistake has had a negative impact on me. I have no assurance that they will even acknowledge their mistake, much less fix it promptly and in full."
From your description, it appears that there was some confusion and assumptions made.... but that does not mean it was a mistake.
 
I

Iwasntthere

Guest
Halket, thanks for such a prompt reply. I do appreciate it, but I must say that it appears you have not included one peice of info in your consideration. That is, that I have paid any and all bills sent to me by ATT Worldnet on time. I have not moved or otherwise changed address, and as stated in my original post, have numerous other ATT accounts verifing that I still receive mail at the same address. In answering question #3, you seem to have assumed otherwise. That is, that I have not, in fact, paid all bills on time to this creditor. What if I have? Do I then have any recourse? Again, if so, it is financially reasonable (i.e.; am I going to pay a fortune to have incorrect reports promptly and completely removed from my file)?
Regarding your response to question #1, I mispoke. In the feild of public water distribution, where my only experience with similar situations comes from, we are not able to discontinue service or send a bill to collections before several good faith efforts are made to collect that bill, including at least a second notice. Instead of asking if efforts to collect should be made before adversely affecting one's credit (including a 90 days past due), I should have simply asked if a similar requirement exists in this case, that is: Is a creditor required to provide notice of a past due account?
Finally, in regards to question #2, you agin seem to conclude that there is indeed anunpaid bill, but more importantly, seem to agree(at least on a moral level) that an entity should make distinctions between itself and others apparent to customers. It almost seems criminal(shady, at best) to have 2 separate entities under the same corporate parentage operate so independantly of each other with out loudly proclaiming that fact to both it's customers and any potential customers. -frivilous example - "Let's operate these businesses separately, but make them sound as if they're one and the same. When we get a customer changing from one service to another, we can secretly charge them for both." - These businesses are merely divisions of one company - ATT. If they are indeed run independantly of one another, then that point should be made clear to customers who could potentially be advrsely affected in their business dealings with ATT. If this in not illegal, it is at least immoral and POOR customer service. If that is the case, any ideas on giving this enough bad press to force ATT to follow a more customer friendly policy?
Thanks again, Halket and any others who may wish to respond. I don't mean to bash your kind response, only to clarify points that appear to have been overlooked.:)
 

JETX

Senior Member
Your post wasn't really clear who claimed that you owed the money to... the issue is that SOMEONE is claiming that you owe the money.

So, as noted in my reply, you do NOT have any cause of action to sue..... and certainly not worth it over $14.95!! You do have a RIGHT to an accurate credit statement (via the FCRA).

So, lets play your game of symantics.... what did ATT (Worldnet or Broadband) say when you wrote them a letter requesting a clarification and proof of their claim against you???
 
I

Iwasntthere

Guest
Game of symantics? OK... ATT Broadband's Customer Service rep told me over the phone (I just got a letter demanding payment today, remember? We haven't gotten to the stage of writing letters requesting clarification or validation. That's why I'm here - to get some advice before proceeding) that ATT Broadband (my service provider since 12-11-02 through today) is a separate company than ATT Worldnet, and politely gave me a number for that entity. I then called ATT Worldnet, and was told the same thing re: their non-affiliation by an ATT Worldnet Customer Service rep. This rep also reveiwed my file and told me that according to their records, my account was closed in April of 2000 for "inactivity". She was unable to respond to questions regarding previous attempts to collect this "bill" or otherwise contact me before proceeding with formal collection efforts, other to say that an e-mail had been sent, "but, of course you wouldn't have gotten it, since you had switched to Broadband in December." She then attempted to get her supervisors involved, but as they were apparently unavailable, promised that they "would get back to me within 24-48 hours."

I am reacting in the way I am due to other mistakes made by ATT Broadband, that were poorly handled by them, that they would not admit to, but were eventually, without apology, and mysteriously resolved. (Specifically, a lost coupon and threats to terminate my service for a "partial payment")

It may be worth noting that after my last post, I went to ATT Worldnet's homepage for additional info. In the upper left hand corner is the following logo: ATT Broadband...featuring ATT Worldnet. Separate entities??? This would make my assumption seem a little more accurate; that switching from ATT *** to ATT @@@ would be seamless, as promised, and that they would be bright enough to correctly figure out the billing.

Finally, I apparently have not yet made myself clear. Let me try again... I do not care about $14.95. I spend more than that on lunch. My concern and my questions re: possible litigation revolve around ATT "somebody's" negligent handling of my account and the damage they have done to me and my credit rating as a result.

So Halket, I have succesfully defended myself from insinuations that I am trying to skip out on a debt and hopefully have clarified my situation and the desired outcome, it seems the symantic is back in your court ;) . Do I have cause? Does anybody else have some valuable input?
Once again, I thank you Halket, and anyone else, for your thoughts on this subject.
 
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JETX

Senior Member
Okay, even though I am far removed from the specifics that you have.... I will tell you what happened..... (or probably happened.. you fill in the missing pieces).

1) You changed your service from ATT Worldnet Service (apparently) to ATT Broadband (apparently).
2) From the bill amount, I assume you were paying something like $14.95 per month.... or maybe for two months, you're not clear.
3) You failed to cancel your service with ATT Worldnet Service (apparently presuming that the two separate entities would 'devine' that your transfer should cancel the prior service). It didn't.
4) ATT Worldnet Service realized that you were no longer using their service and cancelled due to inactivity (lucky for you... since they could have billed you until you did cancel!).
5) You are now upset because ATT Worldnet Service didn't realize your cancellation and do this for you. (They have no obligation to do so).
6) You have now taken the position that ATT (Corp.?) should have hired Miss Cleo and been able to see that you had moved companies within their 'sphere'. Sorry, but sister-companies often don't share computer files, billing records and customer data.... unless they want to sell you something. In fact, with the passage of the G-L-B Act (15 U.S.C. § 6801-6810), they can't exchange financial information without your permission!!

So, if the above is correct (or even near correct), save your lunch money and pay the bill!! AND you still do not have any cause for action against anyone...... at least not at ATT.
 
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I

Iwasntthere

Guest
NOW you're beginning to grasp the situation... except that there is still an absence of bills left unpaid (as stated previously, I have paid all Worldnet bills on time, at least those that were sent to me). Perhaps I should hire MIss Cleo to determine what became of the bill they claim I didn't pay.

As far as independant sister companies are concerned, the previously mentioned logo certainly seems to contradict any claims of indepenence made by Customer Service reps. In addition, a quick trip to the Library to glance in the most recent directory of large American Corporations reveals that among ATT Corp. and it's 9 subsidiaries, none are named as "ATT Worldnet".

Since it now seems that they are not, in fact, "sister" companies, rather 1 large company with very poor customer service, and keeping in mind the facts that I have paid all my bills on time and that my latest statement shows my account to be up to date, I would restate my earlier assertion - that ATT made a mistake re: my account and took action that has adversely affected me based on the results of their mistake.

Thank you Halket, for your time and the opportunity to work out some of the facts before pursuing this matter further. I very much appreciate your candor and wit.
 

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