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Cancelled Cell Phone Contract Leads To Credit Hassle

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JOHNSTON COUNTY, N.C. — Cell phones are a crucial part of everyday life for many people.When a Johnston County woman had a billing issue she could not resolve, she called Five on Your Side for help.

When you get a cell phone, you get a contract. If you cancel the service before the end of the contract, you pay a hefty fee. That is when the problems started for Skyla Massengill.

Massengill cancelled her Alltel service almost a year ago. Her contract was not up, so she paid a $250 cancellation fee plus about $100 for her final bill. Massengil paid a total of $356 by money order last September. She thought that was the end of her dealings with Alltel.

"I kept getting bills in the mail. I'd call them back and they'd always tell me that they hadn't received it and it might take a little bit longer because it was a money order," she said.

Massengill kept calling Alltel, but they could not find the payment. Two months later, she received a collections letter, reading: "Please be advised that the above claim has been placed with us for collection."

"I was mad," she said. "That was a lot of money for me to pay out like that and then [have] them turn around and say I didn't pay it."

Massengill traced the money order and found Alltel cashed it. She sent proof, but Alltel did not clear her credit. Massengill said she was irritated that the company was not serving its customers. Then she called Five On Your Side.

After a call to Alltel, spokeswoman Karen Hearn apologized and said the payment was "apparently not applied appropriately." She blamed it on "human error" and fixed Massengill's account.

"They told me on the phone, 'You know, everybody makes mistakes.' I was like, 'This is a mistake that has been going on for almost a year,'" Massengil said.

Massengill is glad the $350 payment is now officially credited so that she will not get any more letters threatening her credit.

Tuesday, Massengill received a letter from Alltel confirming the amount was cleared from her credit report. It also stated she will get a check for $15 to reimburse her for the cost of tracing the money order.


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