This is a letter I have sent to over 400 recipients already on various elists - a version of this letter has also been sent to ALL of the local television newsrooms. PLEASE READ!

Last month, we received a few long distance charges on our telephone bill totalling around $30 which we honestly had not made. we proceeded to dispute the charges with AT&T and Ameritech back and forth for over 5 hours.

AT&T basically told us since their computer had shown the calls had come from our phone line, we were responsible for payment. Ameritech, on the other hand, said there was another possible explanation: if the phone line had been tapped from an outside source, there exists the possibility of fraudulent use. We felt this made sense, since our second phone line was installed outside of our apartment building, instead of being routed within the building like our main line.

Instead of fighting, we reluctantly paid the calls in the hopes that one day we would see a credit appear on a future bill. We did however have any long distance service canceled from our second line to prevent any future misuse of our service.

Yesterday, we received our monthly statement from Ameritech. My husband almost had a heart attack when he saw the bill: $996.67!!! the last call we *did not* place was dated for April 9th - a day before the cancelation of the long distance service.

Of course, we immediately called AT&T to dispute these charges - calls placed to 3 different numbers (but of the same area code) in California, and different areas overseas (islands I believe). AT&T said they would go 50/50 on the bill with us. We refused this offer! We're not going to pay for *any* of these calls!!

Today, I contacted the Citizens Utility Board (CUB) and also the District Attorney's office (since AT&T smugly remarked to go ahead and talk to our lawyer). We are now waiting for forms to state our claim. We also called Ameritech (since their customer service department was closed when we called last night). I pleaded with them not to shut off our local service, since we regard it as a utility, and not a luxury.

Ameritech said since the bill is not overdue, I do not have to worry, but when it is, I need to either pay in person or by mail (instead of the currency exchanges) with my claim. I was also instructed by all to keep accurate files of everything!

What it comes down to is this - we are majorly concerned on three parts:

  • We will be stuck paying the amount in full, or any amount whatsoever, since we feel we were robbed!
  • Our credit and our good name will be destroyed by this incident!
  • the inconveniences (putting it mildly) will go in vain, and we will lose our telephone service.

  • It is our belief that if the crewman on behalf of Ameritech had not wired our second phone line outside of the building exposed, we would not be in the situation we are facing today.

    I am sending you this note so that you may be aware of incidents like this. My husband and I believe if it has happened to us, it may be happening to someone else. We also feel that if thieves can splice lines for cable television, they can also tap telephone wires and abuse the services others pay for. CHECK YOUR WIRING!

    Thank you for your time.

    Ron and Lori Dake
    Chicago, IL

    ps. just for the record - our average phone bill for both lines has never gone past $120 in the five years we have had service. We do not allow others to freely use our phone, and the only other person who has constant access to our lines is our eight year old son.

    UPDATE An Ameritech repair technician was scheduled for June 3rd, between 3 and 7pm, to view the wiring from the telephone itself to the telephone pole outside. They never came. I just called Ameritech to see what was going on, and now I find out We are being slapped with a $51 fee for this service, which is required by AT&T in order to try to get this straightened out. This is absolutely wrong! When I had placed the service, there was absolutely no mention of a $51 fee. So not only are We being demanded to pay for what turns out to be overseas phone sex hotlines, but now We also have to pay for a service charge, when Ameritech didn't even do their job!

    We've also been trying to go with an alternative local phone service, but we have not heard word from Core.Com. Everytime I call them to find out when Our service will be switched over, they promise to call Us back. This is rediculious!