Integrity is made up of little things, which is why I complain about Qwest

by Mr. Sheehy

Dear Qwest Customer Service:

I write to you today as a customer of many years. My most recent relationship with Qwest began in October of 2003, and while this business arrangement has gone well, I have grown increasingly frustrated with irregularities in my billing, causing me to suspect that there are consistent issues with either the accuracy or the ethics of the billing practices employed at Qwest.

The irregularities of which I speak are the mysterious appearances of a “Directory Assistance” call on my phone bill, which appears periodically and costs $1.25 each time. I have never – and I emphasize with total clarity – never used your directory assistance. One of the first times I noticed this line on my bill, I called to complain, but the customer service rep. simply read to me with an air of extreme confidence the exact date and time of “my” call to directory assistance. His tone told me everything: I would not be right.

For a dollar and a quarter, fighting with such a representative was not worth the effort, but more than a year later, the calls continue to appear on my bill periodically, and the feeling that I am being robbed – either through inaccuracy or unethical practices – grows more and more. A month ago I called again and spoke at length with a customer service rep about the problem. I had to speak with her for more than five minutes about this issue while she theorized every possible way someone might have dialed directory assistance. I got the feeling that if I’d said, “We weren’t home that month,” she would have replied, “Well, was there any evidence that someone had broken into your house?”

These “calls” have appeared at different residences, and my wife and I are very confident that we do not call directory assistance. Quite frankly, we have no reason to call it, and since we’re so frustrated by having to pay for not using it, we are doubly determined never to use it. In my frustration, I have looked back into my bills to see how many times a directory assistance call has appeared. It appeared on the following bills:

  • July 1, 2008
  • June 1, 2008
  • April 1, 2008
  • January 1, 2008
  • July 1, 2007
  • July 1, 2006
  • May 1, 2006
  • March 1, 2006

Though these mistakes have cost me more than $10 in fees and taxes, my reason for writing to you is that I feel that this needs to be addressed in principle.

I have contacted your competition in this area and found that to use their services, I need to increase my bill approximately 6%. That means even with the inaccurate charge for directory assistance, your price is better. If, however, you are not able to respond to this letter in a way that convinces me of the integrity of your company, I am willing to pay that extra 6%. In an age of automatic bank withdrawal, it is worth it to me to know that a company is not trying to filch $10 with the hopes that I might not notice.

I will look for your response and sincerely hope you are able to convince me that you are an ethical company that in some manner understands the spirit of service.


Geoffrey Sheehy