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How To File A Complaint Against Your Telephone Provider or Cell Phone Company - Federal Resources

Updated on April 19, 2012

I just love the smell of fresh democracy in the morning! There is nothing more patriotic and invigorating than taking your fight all the way to the top. Or is there? If you have been keeping up with my suggestions thus far, than you know that starting off at the top may not be such a good idea, as there are other resources that will hopefully result in a better outcome. If you haven’t already, please be sure to check out some of the previous articles such as setting your goals, and state resources.

Ok so what do I know, I have only been in the business for over a decade! If you want to start off at the top, more power to you. Wether your tactics are to bombard your phone company with every type of complaint known to man, or just working your way to the top, you’re probably pretty frustrated that it has come to this.

The Federal Trade Commission - Bureau of Consumer Protection to the rescue. Ok maybe not ot the rescue, but at least watching over you. This entity of the federal government is charged with preventing deceptive business practices, preventing non competitive practices such as business monopolies, price fixing and that sort of thing. While this entity does not currently assist with the individual resolution of consumer complaints, they certainly want to know about it. This is an excellent resource for folks that have been victims of deceptive marketing techniques such as bill cramming (having services added to their phone bill by 3rd parties) or folks that have been constantly harassed by telemarketers. The truth is that they collect data across the board, and they don’t step in until they see a pattern of shady business practices. So bottom line it won’t help you in your struggle, but if multiple people complain, they may swoop down and hit your provider over the head with the scales of lady justice.

Remember when Janet Jackson had that “Wardrobe malfunction” a few years ago during the big game and the FCC swooped in to impose a large fine on the TV network airing the game? It turns out that the same group who gets to dictate what curse words you can say on television, and who empower Amateur Radio operators around the country also regulates your telephone service. The FCC acts pretty much as a catch all on the federal level for complaints regarding, slamming, cramming, billing, service levels, and just about anything else you can think of regarding communications. They even have a way to report those annoying red blinking lights on towers that burn out. Basically you can report just about anything to the FCC regarding your service. While I generally regard this as overkill, you may wish to file a complaint with them as well. I personally have always had great success at the state level with complaints, but it may be necessary to call in the big dogs. Generally, complaints are processed slower at the federal level unless there is a serious safety issue involved. Anytime I have heard about the Federales stepping in, the situation has already been resolved at the state level. So the choice is yours, this might be a good safety net for you.

Incidentally, the FTC also is associated with the national do not call registry. If you have people calling you all the time, then it is a great idea to file with the registry. There are a few limitations that you should know about though. For starters, businesses are not eligible to be on this list, so if you’re at work and people keep trying to sell you stuff, you’re just stuck with them. You actually pay more money for your phone service just for the privilege of being a business so expect a few phone calls from people wanting your money! You can however register your mobile phone. Also, it can take up to 31 days to actually be on the list. Bottom line telemarketing firms have to refresh their list every so often to stay complaint, so don’t expect this to be the magic wand that gets waived and presto all your calls stop, it takes awhile.

There are a few exceptions to the do not call registry. For example, if you have a business relationship with a company, for example lets say you buy something from a major big box store, they can actually call you for up to 18 months after you register. I’m sure you have all seen those barrels around town or drop boxes that say “Win a FREE Cruise!” and of course you’re always a winner, but you have to pay for port fees or some other sort of junk. It turns out by filling out that information card, you actually gave that company written permission to call you, totally nullifying the do not call entry for that company. Be sure you know who you give your number out to. Also, non profit groups, political groups, and phone survey companies are also exempt from the do not call list. Sorry, you’ll just have to deal with these people.

At this point I sincerely hope you have achieved some level of satisfaction from the overall complaint process, but who knows, maybe you still have that burning urge to take on the mega-gigantic phone companies. While the federal level seems to be the last stop, there are a few other private resources at your disposal as well. Be sure to check out the article featuring these resources, some are free, some you may incur out of pocket expenses, but let me ask, can you really put a price on justice?


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