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 Texas : Features : Columns : Letters From North America :
Bank Statement Blues
by Peary Perry
Peary Perry
I donít care what anyone says, life is tough. You roll along everyday trying to get things done and have some sort of peace and quiet, but then bam, out of the blue something just manages to dump on you and ruins your day.

Now, Iím not talking about some major catastrophe or illness, nothing like that. Iím talking about one of those little sniggly things that we all have to deal with from time to time that make no sense and eats up a lot of time that we could use elsewhere to do something like have fun, or play golf or walk or read a book.

Case in point.

Last week, I was looking over a bank statement for our general account at the office. I happened to notice a charge for $28.90 to a national internet service provider (ISP) who I wonít identify, but whose name starts with an ďAĒ and ends up with an ďLĒ. This wouldnít have been any big deal except that we had just got through looking for a company to use at one of our offices out of state. I wasnít aware that we even had an account with these people.

I started checking and come to find out no one knew anything about this or why we were being charged.

I first called the internet company and tried to find out what we were being charged for, but without an account number they couldnít help. Or should I say, they wouldnít help.

I then called the bank and found out they had no idea who charged it since they had an authorization form on file from the ISP to deduct the $28.90 from our checking account each month and send it to them.

Well, as you can see this is going to be a problem. I then called the ISP and get an opportunity to speak to someone who is closer to New Delhi than I am. Iím thinking this guy should be in bed about now, since it has to be early in the morning over there and heís probably talking like this since heís sleepy, but no matter. He canít help since I donít have the aforesaid account number and he canít tell me why my account is being drafted and how it got started since he doesnít have the paperwork, which is at their offices somewhere in the United Sates, which he isnít. All he can tell me is that I donít have any service, but while Iím on the phone would I like to sign up for their special?

I am getting very frustrated, because I am trying to explain that I donít need the serviceÖ.I just need to know why they are charging me and who authorized the charge in the first place and how did they get my bank account numbers?

Once again, he canít tell me since I donít have an account number, but he can get one for me if I will just tell him how I want to pay for itÖ.never mind that I am already paying for it and donít have it. He wants me to pay for another account and then he can talk to me about my new account. I finally obtain the number of his supervisor in the United States and call him to discuss this account that I donít have.

From this person, I am directed to the fraud unit. They are able to locate my account, which has been closed since 2004 but is still being paid for from my checking account, but they cannot tell me who opened the account and gave them drafting instructions to withdraw money each month. They said it was against their policy to disclose this information. When I told them it was my account and I wanted to know why they were drafting on it, they said they could only tell me if I had a court order to do so.

Now, isnít this great?

Here Iíve been charged nearly $360 bucks for a year and the company taking the money needs a court order or a subpoena from an attorney in order to tell me why they have been charging me in the first place. So what would that cost? More than the $360 several times over. This makes no sense at all, does it?

I finally hung up in disgust, called my bank and had them stop the drafts from being honored (another $25) and asked them if this happened very often.

ďEvery dayĒ was the answer.

I know from experience that the local cops and district attorneys wouldnít do anything even if I could prove someone illegally signed me up for something that cost me $28.90 a month. They have bigger fish to fry. So my efforts to secure justice are a pipe dream.

This is a result of my stupidity for not watching my statements each month. Do you? Itís your money and there are folks out here trying to take it away from us.


© Peary Perry
Letters From North America
- February 1, 2006 column
Syndicated weekly in 80 newspapers
Comments go to pperry@austin.rr.com
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