83-year-old Ronald Dorff was charged more for a month of dial-up internet than he lives on for a year.
If you're frustrated with your Internet provider, be thankful you're not Ronald Dorff of Woodland Hills, CA. He came frighteningly close to being financially ruined by a single AT&T bill, and had to go public to set things right.
Dorff is 83, and a great-grandfather, but he still lives alone. He's dependent on Social Security checks to get by, which is probably why he's the only person still using dial-up Internet. But that strategy backfired when his bill shot up from $51 one month to $8,431. He contacted AT&T, who said they would send a technician to his house, but never did.
Dorff, coming from a generation when customer service still served customers, assumed that meant the problem was fixed. That is, until he got his next bill, which came in at a whopping $24,298. That's more money than Social Security (his only income) pays him in a year. He told KCAL:
"If they're going to insist on me to pay the bill, my financial stability is gone."
This time, AT&T bounced Dorff between several representatives on the phone before finally sending a technician, who immediately discovered the problem. Dorff's dial-up modem had been dialing a long-distance number for hours on end, racking up huge charges. It was a simple fix, but when Dorff asked AT&T if his bill he adjusted, he was given a flat "no."
That's when he decided to take his story to the media. Fearing negative publicity, AT&T immediately backed down. In a statement to KCAL, a representative said:
"We have waived the charges and explained to him how to use a local number to reach his service."
Isn't that nice? Not only did they agree not to financially destroy him once they were exposed, but they gave him a last touch of condescension for the road. Class act of the week!