Consequence of senior not paying phone bill and closing account

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atj520
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Consequence of senior not paying phone bill and closing account

Post by atj520 » Thu Nov 14, 2019 3:55 pm

Hi,
My elderly mother got hit with huge charges from her crappy phone provider, currently trying to negotiate the bill down.
Long story short, we were told home2home calls to Japan would be unlimited, home2cell, cell2cell would be extra, but the last bill didn't reflect that.

What would be the downside of simply not paying and walking away?
My elderly parents are in good shape financially (think ~1M, not in great health however), own their home/car. i.e. we could never image them borrowing money again.

Thanks!

gac1979
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Re: Consequence of senior not paying phone bill and closing account

Post by gac1979 » Thu Nov 14, 2019 3:59 pm

If they still drive, their auto insurance premiums (in most states) are largely determined by their credit scores. How much was the bill?

123
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Re: Consequence of senior not paying phone bill and closing account

Post by 123 » Thu Nov 14, 2019 4:01 pm

Who is the telephone service provider? Perhaps others have related experiences.

Did the senior use a landline, cellphone, or internet phone (VOIP) to make the calls?

Was the senior calling a Japanese landline or a cellphone?

How long has the senior had the service provider?

Costs for overseas phone calls can vary a great deal depending on the provider. We have come across differences in cost based on the type of connection at the other end in some countries.
Last edited by 123 on Thu Nov 14, 2019 4:05 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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OnTrack2020
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Re: Consequence of senior not paying phone bill and closing account

Post by OnTrack2020 » Thu Nov 14, 2019 4:01 pm

How much is the phone bill?

I would start looking for a new provider. Use someone reliable.

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Watty
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Re: Consequence of senior not paying phone bill and closing account

Post by Watty » Thu Nov 14, 2019 4:22 pm

OnTrack2020 wrote:
Thu Nov 14, 2019 4:01 pm
How much is the phone bill?
+1

"huge" could be a couple of hundred dollars or thousands of dollars.

It is also important if this is different than prior bills for calls to Japan or if this was something with a new service provider.

If it is a couple of hundred dollars with a new company then go on an pay it and get on with life. It was at least partially their fault for not understanding how the billing would work and reading what the plan actually said.

If it was thousands of dollars then it would be good to look into what government regulations apply and who administers it.

bloom2708
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Re: Consequence of senior not paying phone bill and closing account

Post by bloom2708 » Thu Nov 14, 2019 4:26 pm

Even it is several thousand, they owe it. They have the money. Seems silly to just ignore it and wreck their credit.

Hopefully the bill can be whittled down.

What provider would state that home to home calls to Japan would be free/included? Yikes.
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02nz
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Re: Consequence of senior not paying phone bill and closing account

Post by 02nz » Thu Nov 14, 2019 4:31 pm

atj520 wrote:
Thu Nov 14, 2019 3:55 pm
Long story short, we were told home2home calls to Japan would be unlimited, home2cell, cell2cell would be extra, but the last bill didn't reflect that.
What you recall some rep said on the phone is irrelevant. Every phone provider I know lists their rates online. The phone company is almost certainly in the right on this, very unlikely they billed your parents incorrectly.

Trader Joe
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Re: Consequence of senior not paying phone bill and closing account

Post by Trader Joe » Thu Nov 14, 2019 5:02 pm

atj520 wrote:
Thu Nov 14, 2019 3:55 pm
Hi,
My elderly mother got hit with huge charges from her crappy phone provider, currently trying to negotiate the bill down.
Long story short, we were told home2home calls to Japan would be unlimited, home2cell, cell2cell would be extra, but the last bill didn't reflect that.

What would be the downside of simply not paying and walking away?
My elderly parents are in good shape financially (think ~1M, not in great health however), own their home/car. i.e. we could never image them borrowing money again.

Thanks!
If you are a senior, I cannot imagine that there is any real downside whatsoever. Other than minor annoyances like letters or calls.

I do recommend that you try to work it out (as you have already stated).

Topic Author
atj520
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Re: Consequence of senior not paying phone bill and closing account

Post by atj520 » Thu Nov 14, 2019 5:05 pm

gac1979 wrote:
Thu Nov 14, 2019 3:59 pm
If they still drive, their auto insurance premiums (in most states) are largely determined by their credit scores. How much was the bill?
Bill was $500.

They probably have perfect credit today.

My mom drives Toyota Camry, an old one, nothing fancy in the future.

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8foot7
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Re: Consequence of senior not paying phone bill and closing account

Post by 8foot7 » Thu Nov 14, 2019 5:07 pm

Very, very few consequences aside from wrecking a credit score (the higher their score the worse the damage will be) if they walk away from an amount between $500 and $2,500. Above that, and the debt may be sold to a debt buyer that is not afraid to sue.

I would recommend attempting to settle after a few months either directly with the phone company or with the first collection agency that will undoubtedly reach out. You can generally settle for 50 cents on the dollar once the debt is over six months old. This way the situation is resolved.

If it's under $500, I would simply pay the disputed amount; it's not worth the time or the hassle factor, unless they are easily bored and want some action.

Mr. Rumples
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Re: Consequence of senior not paying phone bill and closing account

Post by Mr. Rumples » Thu Nov 14, 2019 5:10 pm

In a dispute with Comcast, my state utility regulatory agency was helpful. While they don't regulate phone companies, they do have contacts and did forward my request and within a day someone from Comcast's regional office called and resolved the matter. You may or may not of course, find the same where you live.

Broken Man 1999
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Re: Consequence of senior not paying phone bill and closing account

Post by Broken Man 1999 » Thu Nov 14, 2019 5:16 pm

A $500 bill to someone having a portfolio of about $1,000,000?

Seriously, pay the bill. It was incurred, and the funds are available.

Being old doesn't excuse the person from the obligation to pay legit bills.

Sets a bad example for other family members. Better to show character than try to skip obligations.

When did it become OK to shirk responsibilities?

Broken Man 1999
“If I cannot drink Bourbon and smoke cigars in Heaven than I shall not go. " -Mark Twain

Topic Author
atj520
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Re: Consequence of senior not paying phone bill and closing account

Post by atj520 » Thu Nov 14, 2019 5:17 pm

Yea, I'll probably call back and try to whittle it down. Got disconnected with their collections and of course they don't call me back even after confirming a "good call back number."

My parents have never not paid a bill in their life. The bill is $500, not a big deal, but the reps have lied to us on service before. Yes, those that stated above that the real terms are probably on their website. More just sick of their service, it's horrendous.

https://www.consumeraffairs.com/cell_ph ... ntier.html
https://broadbandnow.com/Frontier-Commu ... ns-reviews

You think it'd really make much difference on their perfect credit? They're insuring a 2004 Camry with 125k miles in IL through USAA- should I seriously worry about credit ramifications?

Topic Author
atj520
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Re: Consequence of senior not paying phone bill and closing account

Post by atj520 » Thu Nov 14, 2019 5:19 pm

Broken Man 1999 wrote:
Thu Nov 14, 2019 5:16 pm
A $500 bill to someone having a portfolio of about $1,000,000?

Seriously, pay the bill. It was incurred, and the funds are available.

Being old doesn't excuse the person from the obligation to pay legit bills.

Sets a bad example for other family members. Better to show character than try to skip obligations.

When did it become OK to shirk responsibilities?

Broken Man 1999
I hear ya, likely will. Just want to know the mechanics in case we take option b.

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Watty
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Re: Consequence of senior not paying phone bill and closing account

Post by Watty » Thu Nov 14, 2019 5:39 pm

atj520 wrote:
Thu Nov 14, 2019 5:05 pm
Bill was $500.
Just pay it. She made the calls.

In an odd sort of way it might even be a good thing as a learning experience for your Mom since older people are often targets of scams and this will help make her real cautious.

If you do not pay it it will not just go away and she will need to deal with collection agencies and they will try adding on all sorts of fees, interest, and late charges. They will also make a claim on the estate when she dies even if it is so old by then that it is technically uncollectible. You could then need to pay an expensive lawyer that charges by the hour to take care of it.

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dm200
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Re: Consequence of senior not paying phone bill and closing account

Post by dm200 » Thu Nov 14, 2019 5:43 pm

I do not know for sure, but I suspect that:

1. Phone company will, eventually, turn it over to a collection agency.

2. Then, their credit report will show a collections item - and drop in credit score

3. I suspect significant late fees, penalties - and legal/collection costs will be added.

4. The collection agency may take them to court over the now much larger bill

Therefore - just pay the bill [in my opinion].

Jags4186
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Re: Consequence of senior not paying phone bill and closing account

Post by Jags4186 » Thu Nov 14, 2019 6:09 pm

For $500 I would pay and move on. After all, once your elderly parents pass away the estate will have to pay. Do you want tons of fines, interest, late fees, etc. tacked on then?

Topic Author
atj520
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Re: Consequence of senior not paying phone bill and closing account

Post by atj520 » Thu Nov 14, 2019 6:24 pm

Ok Ok we'll pay it.

I don't want to pay more than $500 so that's pretty much the only motivation to pay it to be honest. Less cares about the credit hit and ethics of skipping a bill on a crap service tbh.

Sincerely do appreciate the comments. I learned a thing or two.

fru-gal
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Re: Consequence of senior not paying phone bill and closing account

Post by fru-gal » Thu Nov 14, 2019 7:14 pm

Yes, pay it and dump that phone company.

I asked Consumer Cellular about calling to Japan and they said:

I can help with your question about service to call Japan. We do offer international calling to Japan for $0.06-$0.14 per minute depending on if you are calling a landline or cell phone in Japan. Here is a link to our International calling FAQ page, https://www.consumercellular.com/Help/i ... ates/rates.

I am happy with them and they aim at older customers. They have an AARP discount.

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GerryL
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Re: Consequence of senior not paying phone bill and closing account

Post by GerryL » Thu Nov 14, 2019 7:30 pm

Pay it with warning that you intend to write a negative review. If they don't give you a break on the bill, then write up the story on online review sites using only FACTS. No name calling or opinions. "I would not use this company again because Fact 1, Fact 2, Fact 3."

gac1979
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Re: Consequence of senior not paying phone bill and closing account

Post by gac1979 » Thu Nov 14, 2019 7:42 pm

atj520 wrote:
Thu Nov 14, 2019 5:05 pm
gac1979 wrote:
Thu Nov 14, 2019 3:59 pm
If they still drive, their auto insurance premiums (in most states) are largely determined by their credit scores. How much was the bill?
Bill was $500.

They probably have perfect credit today.

My mom drives Toyota Camry, an old one, nothing fancy in the future.
I was just trying to point out that not paying a bill (and therefore impacting one’s credit) can have a multitude of trickle down effects (such as higher insurance premiums) that may be overlooked.

atikovi
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Re: Consequence of senior not paying phone bill and closing account

Post by atikovi » Thu Nov 14, 2019 9:01 pm

Some 2 years ago I signed up with Comcast on a 30 day free trial. I cancelled but they said I owed $202 which was bs and never paid. For the first year I'd get calls and letters from collection agencies. It's still in collections on my credit report but my credit score is nearly 800 so it doesn't affect much for me.

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JoeRetire
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Re: Consequence of senior not paying phone bill and closing account

Post by JoeRetire » Thu Nov 14, 2019 9:07 pm

atj520 wrote:
Thu Nov 14, 2019 3:55 pm
What would be the downside of simply not paying and walking away?
The downside is a loss of credit score and going to bed each night knowing you are a deadbeat.

Just have them pay it.

Next time, make sure they read the terms of their contract more carefully. If they can't understand the terms, you read it for them.
Don't be a lemming.

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Bogle7
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Re: Consequence of senior not paying phone bill and closing account

Post by Bogle7 » Thu Nov 14, 2019 11:24 pm

No more phone calls.
FaceTime.

student
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Re: Consequence of senior not paying phone bill and closing account

Post by student » Thu Nov 14, 2019 11:40 pm

02nz wrote:
Thu Nov 14, 2019 4:31 pm
atj520 wrote:
Thu Nov 14, 2019 3:55 pm
Long story short, we were told home2home calls to Japan would be unlimited, home2cell, cell2cell would be extra, but the last bill didn't reflect that.
What you recall some rep said on the phone is irrelevant. Every phone provider I know lists their rates online. The phone company is almost certainly in the right on this, very unlikely they billed your parents incorrectly.
I had phone company who billed incorrectly and I have to call to get it fixed every month until I switched. This was many years ago.

student
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Re: Consequence of senior not paying phone bill and closing account

Post by student » Thu Nov 14, 2019 11:42 pm

atj520 wrote:
Thu Nov 14, 2019 6:24 pm
Ok Ok we'll pay it.

I don't want to pay more than $500 so that's pretty much the only motivation to pay it to be honest. Less cares about the credit hit and ethics of skipping a bill on a crap service tbh.

Sincerely do appreciate the comments. I learned a thing or two.
It is good that you have decided to pay it. However, if you are certain that the company has made a mistake, you should complain to the appropriate agency. (Maybe FCC?)

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LilyFleur
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Re: Consequence of senior not paying phone bill and closing account

Post by LilyFleur » Thu Nov 14, 2019 11:49 pm

I would pay it--on a credit card.

Then make several attempts to get them to credit your parents what is owed them.

Then dispute the charges with the credit card company.

mptfan
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Re: Consequence of senior not paying phone bill and closing account

Post by mptfan » Thu Nov 14, 2019 11:51 pm

atj520 wrote:
Thu Nov 14, 2019 5:17 pm
You think it'd really make much difference on their perfect credit?
Yes it would make a difference, their credit will no longer be perfect with a debt that was not paid and sent to collections.

Caduceus
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Re: Consequence of senior not paying phone bill and closing account

Post by Caduceus » Fri Nov 15, 2019 6:56 am

It seems like maybe there was a miscommunication. I am not sure any reasonable customer would ever believe that international calls would be free and unlimited, unless I'm misunderstand what you mean by "home2home" calls. If what you mean is that you get unlimited calls between one domestic number and one foreign number, I don't know how your parents could have believed that in the first place. I mean, did they register what that foreign number was? (Otherwise how would the phone company know that was the number eligible for free calls?)

This just seems very odd. As it stands, I'm more inclined to think your parents misunderstood and that it was their fault.

If you still believe it was the phone company's fault, I would try to bargain down the bill to maybe half or 75% of it, and just pay it and be done with it. I don't think saving $250 or $375 is worth the cost of wrecking your credit, even if it was someone else's fault.

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cheese_breath
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Re: Consequence of senior not paying phone bill and closing account

Post by cheese_breath » Fri Nov 15, 2019 11:50 am

How elderly is elderly? I'm in my late 70s, and thankful I kept my credit score up there even though I thought I'd never need it again. I thought DW and I had it made.... house paid off, paid cash for new cars, always paid off credit cards each month. We'd planned to stay where we were the rest of our lives.

Then DW had a stroke over two years ago and has been in nursing homes ever since. For the first year I kept her in one near our home in MI. But her daughter convinced me to move her to TX as the daughter is best equipped of her children to take over her care if anything happens to me. So I moved us down here, her to a different nursing home and me to an apartment. Guess what, the apartment checked my credit before issuing a lease. No problem though, as my score is over 800. I don't know what they would have done if it was lower, let me in paying higher rent or not let me in at all.

One never knows the future until it's the past, and $500 is a small price to pay to keep your good credit. Pay the bill, and see if you can negotiate a partial refund later.
The surest way to know the future is when it becomes the past.

rooms222
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Re: Consequence of senior not paying phone bill and closing account

Post by rooms222 » Fri Nov 15, 2019 1:06 pm

By not identifying what the service is exactly, I believe the OP has led to a lot of advice to pay the bill where it may not be warranted. A family member is going through this exact situation with a small VOIP provider (Lingo) that has merged with another VOIP provider. They had a plan where for $40-70 dollars a month you could get unlimited calls to landline phones in 50-70 countries (only 20 countries for cellphones, because of "caller pays" in those countries).

When the latest step of the merger took place a month or two ago, those calls were all billed improperly on a per minute basis, and a $700 bill was sent to my family member, which she is fighting. It sounds like an identical situation for the OP's family member. This unlimited landline call plan is longstanding, with many people having this plan for around a decade. I would not hastily pay this bill, but write and call to get it corrected. The OP and posters are correct, that VOIP providers may be difficult to fight effectively. If they offer enough of a discount, I might pay something to resolve it, but the billings are erroneous and many people are in the same boat.

MJS
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Re: Consequence of senior not paying phone bill and closing account

Post by MJS » Fri Nov 15, 2019 4:42 pm

Caduceus wrote:
Fri Nov 15, 2019 6:56 am
... I am not sure any reasonable customer would ever believe that international calls would be free and unlimited, ...
Believing this is probably a factor of age. When I was a kid, a call to a town two miles away was billed at one candy bar per minute (5 cents per minute in those days); out of state calls required an operator and cost an hour's work for 3 minutes; an international call was scheduled a day in advance and cost a day's wages minimum.

Then, magic happened! Area codes, direct dial and cell phones. Free long distance calls for as long as you like! If a phone rep told me that certain kind of call was free, that would fit with what I have seen in my lifetime. It would be quite believable.

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