Local News

5 On Your Side Goes The Distance For Overcharged MSN Customers

Posted June 13, 2001

— Some Wake County Microsoft Network users found out the hard way that their dial-up Internet number was not local. Most were billed hundreds of dollars in unexpected phone charges, but after a long battle, they are finally being reimbursed.

"I would just leave it overnight downloading songs," says Hunter Bulk.

It is something a lot of teens do and not usually anything to worry about until his dad, Ned, opened a $850 phone bill.

Gillian Jeffrey yelled out loud when she opened her $460 phone bill.

Jeffery and Bulk are two of at least 148 Wake County

Microsoft Network

internet service customers stunned by their February phone bills. The problem: For about a month, the customers were rerouted to a long distance Chapel Hill number when they accessed the Internet. It was a number they did not know they had been switched to.

Combined, our complainants were billed more than $13,000. All say attempts to straighten out the mess with MSN were futile, and complained they dealt with "rude," "inaccessible," and "unresponsive" customer service representatives.

"Absolutely awful! I've spent hours and hours and hours on the telephone talking to one customer service person after another," says Jeffrey.

Ned Bulk was instructed to fax his phone bills, along with letters. He says he did that five times.

All of the people who complained to 5 On Your Side describe similar frustrations. We were pretty frustrated with MSN, too, because initially, they agreed to reimburse only a few of our complainants.

5 On Your Side got the

N.C. Attorney General's Office

involved by giving attorneys there the case information of all of our complainants. They say MSN finally admitted the error was theirs and agreed to reimburse all customers.

For customers who have not received a check yet, MSN is reviewing each case individually.

5 On Your Side often gets complaints from people who get slapped with long distance charges for Internet access. It is important to make sure that you choose a local number. Otherwise, you may get stuck paying the bill.

This situation was different in that these computer users originally chose local numbers, but were later switched to long distance numbers by MSN.


Kamal Wallace


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