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AT&T tries to wring out more cash in cycle game


Updated: June 12, 2012 8:27AM

D ear Fixer: My wife and I switched to T-Mobile on March 9 from AT&T for our cellphones. We called AT&T to find out how to cancel. My wife was told she had to pay the bill, wait a day and then cancel the service. So we paid the bill on the 8th and went to T-Mobile on the 9th and signed up and ported her number. We called AT&T that night and canceled the service.

We recently received a bill from AT&T saying we owe $150 for the billing cycle that started on March 9 and ended April 8. My wife told them we canceled, but they said that since the billing cycle started before we canceled, we owed the whole bill. Also, since a new cycle had started by then we would owe another $150 in May.

We canceled based on what they directed us to do and yet we still owe. Can you help?

Greg Wermund, Romeoville

Dear Greg: What a difference a day makes. In your case, it cost about $265.

You told The Fixer that because your and your wife’s phones weren’t under any contract, you figured this switch would be relatively easy. But apparently the instructions got garbled. The intent, we suppose, was to make sure the payment would clear so the account could be closed. But what happened was the account simply re-upped itself for another month (and then another).

We took this to AT&T spokeswoman Mollie West to see what she could find out. AT&T took another look and soon after, they let you know that they’re waiving all charges and will send you a new invoice showing a zero balance. You’re officially off the hook.

Ken vs. Sprint: The break-up

Speaking of phone bills … Remember Ken Loebel, the Fixer column reader who was ticked off when Sprint unilaterally decided it would end its “unlimited” 4G data plan before the end of Ken’s two-year contract? The fine print allows Sprint to make such changes, but Ken felt it was unfair.

We asked Ken’s fellow consumers whether he should accept Sprint’s offer to get out of the contract with no early termination fee or whether he should fight on. Opinions were mixed.

We caught up with Ken last week. He said he ended up canceling his contract, though he’s still upset about what happened. He thinks Sprint should have gone further and “grandfathered in” customers whose plans had not yet expired.

Ken says he’ll continue to fight against such service agreements that are unfair to consumers, by contacting his legislators, regulators and consumer groups.

“There is a point when you simply make a decision to move on, never do business with a company again and tell all your friends what a bad experience it has been. That is most likely the course that I will take,” Ken told The Fixer.

Get rid of this slide

The Fixer’s all for fun in the sun, but if you have this inflatable pool slide in your backyard, get rid of it now.

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission this week announced the recall of 21,000 inflated “Banzai Splash” in-ground pool water slides, which were sold at Wal-Mart and Toys R Us stores nationwide from January 2005 through June 2009 for about $250.

The slides can deflate during use, causing the user to clunk his or her head on the ground as they slide down. A 29-year-old Colorado mom died in Andover, Mass., after fracturing her neck as she went down the slide, and in two other accidents cited by the CPSC a 24-year-old man from Springfield, Mass., became a quadriplegic from his injuries and a woman from Allentown, Pa., fractured her neck.

The vinyl slides have a blue base, yellow sliding mat and an arch over the top of the slide. A hose can be connected to spray water on the downward slope of the slide.

Consumers are urged to immediately stop using the slides and return them to the nearest Wal-Mart or Toys R Us for a full refund. (Consumers can just cut the two safety warning notices from the slides and bring those in, if they don’t want to transport the whole slide.)

For more info, check out

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