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Companies That Charged Vermonters’ Phone Bills Settle With Attorney General
CONTACT: Elliot Burg, Assistant Attorney General, (802) 828-5507
March 14, 2011
Three out-of-state companies that charged local consumers and businesses on their telephone bills for services that many of the affected Vermonters claim they did not agree to buy have entered into settlements with the Vermont Attorney General’s Office. The companies are Durham Technology, LLC, d/b/a MyiProducts IMail, of Indianapolis, Indiana; More Local Reach, Inc., of Boca Raton, Florida; and YPD Corporation of Smyrna, Georgia. Together, the three firms billed over $220,000, all of which must be refunded.
Between 2005 and 2010, MyiProducts charged over 1,300 Vermonters more than $78,000 for a voicemail service. Between 2007 and 2010, More Local Reach and YPD, respectively, charged 214 and 201 Vermont businesses more than $58,000 and $84,000 for services related to online business directories. All of the charges appeared on local telephone bills and were facilitated by a middleman (called an “aggregator”), Enhanced Services Billing, Inc. (“ESBI”), of San Antonio, Texas.
In all three cases, the charging company failed to comply fully with a Vermont law requiring that notice be mailed to consumers and businesses before charges appear on their local telephone bills. The reason for the notice is that most people do not realize that they can be billed through their local phone company for something unrelated to their phone service. In addition, More Local Reach used what the Attorney General’s Office considered to be a deceptive telemarketing script, which stated that the purpose of the call was not to sell a service (which it was), but to update the prospective customer’s online listing.
In their settlements, MyiProducts, More Local Reach and YPD have all agreed to abide strictly by the requirements of Vermont law, to provide full refunds to all of the Vermont customers, and to pay $10,000 each to the State of Vermont.
Attorney General William H. Sorrell noted that the settlements are the first in what he expects will be a series of enforcement actions designed to combat “cramming,” or the placing of unauthorized or inadequately-noticed charges on consumer and business telephone bills. “Few people anticipate being charged for non-telephone services on their local telephone bills,” said Sorrell. “We will not tolerate companies that take advantage of that,” he added.
For more information on the settlements, call the Attorney General’s Office at (802) 828-5507.
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