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MCI (fka MCI WorldCom) Slamming Incident
October 2001

I had switched the long distance carrier on my Pacific Bell DSL line to MCI. A couple of weeks later, I mysteriously started getting annoying calls from MCI begging me to come back to them.

The mystery was resolved when I got the next phone bill from Pac Bell, which included a charge for switching to WorldCom.

When I called Pac Bell about the change order, they said it had come from WorldCom. But WorldCom customer service could offer no explanation for the switch and denied any responsibility.

What makes this slamming incidnet ironic is the fact that MCI and WorldCom are the same company (even though their customer service reps have a tendency to deny this), so they have slammed their own account. What also complicates things is that although the MCI access code (1010222) and the WorldCom access code (1010555) are different, the confirmation message received when calling 1-700-555-4141 is the same for both carriers. But if you're pre-subscribed on the access code for MCI but have your account with WorldCom (or vice versa), calls will be billed at the exorbitant casual caller rates.

Eventually the bill came from Pac Bell, including a section from USBI, a division of Billing Concepts, including the charges from WorldCom.

I called USBI at the indicated number 888-478-8724. They refused to do anything, insisting that I talk to MCI WorldCom (or whoever they are).

A call to Pac Bell seemed to be more effective. After explaining the problem to the Pac Bell customer service rep, I was transferred to Pacific Bell's Third Party Billing Center. I could have avoided the 20 minute hold time by calling Third Party Billing directly at 1-800-280-1996.

The rep at the Third Party Billing Center immediately agreed to accept the complaint, saying this would be forwarded to the California PUC. The carrier is required to provide the authorization. In the absence of this, the California PUC provides that the customer is not responsible for long distance charges, and the offending IXC is responsible for both PIC change charges incurred in switching to and from the offending carrier.

I could have avoided this problem by having a PIC freeze... but a PIC freeze can create its own problems when you want to switch... and it seems like the IXC's still try to override the PIC freeze when you switch carriers. This time, I agreed to a PIC freeze. That will at least reduce the likelihood of a re-occurrence.

MCI customer service referred me to their fraud number, 800-803-7559, when I mentioned the alleged slamming by WorldCom.

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