7 On Your Side:Pay Attention To Terms Of Service - KTRE.com | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

4/30/07-Alto

7 On Your Side:Pay Attention To Terms Of Service

For almost two months Pat Tuskey says he's been overwhelmed by what's now a $6,290 Earthlink bill.

A much greater expense than what he thought he was signing up for in March.

"It was supposed to be like $9.95 a month for the first six months and whatever it was going to cost after that. And we wanted it because it was one of the cheaper ones out there," says Pat.

Dial-up service offers local phone numbers to connect to the internet. But Pat's land-line service wouldn't let him dial 1, then the number, because he didn't have long distance.

He says he called customer service who offered him an 800 number to use instead.

"I said this is great it works," says Pat after being set up over the phone with a technician. "I said is there a fee involved [using the 800 number] and he said there is no cost to you."

But according to the service agreement, which Pat is subject to, logging in with toll-free numbers 800, 888, and 877 cost extra. How much extra? $0.10 cents per minute which adds up to $6.00 per hour.

"It's an 800 number. I'm under the impression that 800 numbers are supposed to be toll-free phone number," says Pat.

And because he didn't realize he was being charged by the hour, Pat says he didn't always log off of the internet--racking up hundreds of hours of use at the $6.00 per hour rate.

We contacted Earthlink's corporate office in Atlanta, Georgia and learned of another detail. Customers are sent a CD to activate their Earthlink account.  On it, they say, the customer is prompted to accept any extra charges for using an 800 number.

But Pat's installation process happened over the phone, when he first called Earthlink letting them know his local access numbers weren't working.

Pat says he never used the CD and now he's paying the price.

"My wife is not in good health and there are other things that are going on that we're having to deal with. With something like this you're trying to talk with the people you're supposed to talk to. What do you do? You feel helpless!," says Pat.

Pat's lesson has been learned. He says he will pay much closer attention to the service terms in the future.

After we contacted the company, Earthlink agreed to put Pat in contact with the proper department to see what can be worked out.

Earlier this evening we learned the company cleared the charges. Pat will only be responsible to pay the $9.95 fee for two months.

Christine Nelson reporting. cnelson@kltv.com

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