Oakland man claims Pac Bell ran a ‘sham’

The Associated Press
Wednesday March 14, 2001


SAN FRANCISCO — An Oakland man claims Pacific Bell unfairly has charged him and other customers $1.99 a month for WirePro, a “worthless, sham service,” according to a suit filed Tuesday in Alameda County Superior Court. 

Daniel J. Mulligan claims in his suit the telephone company has charged him $1.99 a month since March 1997 for a useless service he never requested or authorized. 

While Pacific Bell spokesman John Britton said he was unfamiliar with the details of Mulligan’s account, he insisted that customers never pay for unwanted services. 

“Nobody is asked to pay charges they don’t owe,” he said. “We stand ready to take care of something that’s not accurate. ... We always tell consumers, ’Read your bill and if there’s something you don’t understand, call us.”’ 

Britton said WirePro covers any problems with a customer’s inside wiring. Those kinds of problems are a “significant part” of Pac Bell’s daily maintenance calls, he said, refusing to be more specific. 

But Mulligan’s lawyer disagreed. 

James C. Sturdevant said the charges started appearing on his residential phone bills, without his consent, about seven months ago. For six months, he wrote on his bills that he did not want WirePro and would not pay for it. However, Pac Bell continued to charge him. 

“This is a classic case of billing customers for a worthless service which they never requested, authorized or knew about,” Sturdevant said. “It is patently illegal and has resulted in millions of Pacific Bell customers unknowingly paying substantial sums for a service they never authorized and will most likely never use.” 

WirePro, which now costs $2.99 a month, is touted as “protection against costly repairs on your wiring and jacks,” according to the company’s Web site. “If a technician finds the cause of the problem to be on the inside wiring or phone jack, the necessary repairs will be done at no charge to you.” 


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