(Posted Wednesday 5-3-2000) This is a copy of the letter that I sent to the Better Business Bureau in Parsippany, NJ on Tuesday 5-2-2000. I feel that the letter speaks for itself. Thanks for your reading, Johnny Anderson.
Dear Sir/Madame. Two years ago I purchased three phone cards from a gas station near to my home. One was $5, one was $10 and the third was of $20 in value. Having many phone cards in my house (as I collect them) I never used these cards because there was “no expiration date” mentioned on the packaging or the front of the phone card. The phone cards when purchased were each on a 6” by 4” piece of thin cardboard and the phone card itself was inside a clear plastic rectangular box that was glued to the cardboard. If you cannot picture this, go to most gas stations and you’ll see them hanging up from a hook. Sam’s Club in Southern CA, has the same kind of packaging for their AT+T cards.
So over the past two years I’ve used phone cards that had expiration dates on them, and leaving these cards and other cards for times when the time on the others had run out. Today, Tuesday 5-2-2000 I opened up the $5 card and took it
out of its packaging for the first time since buying it. I dialed the 1-800 number and when asked to do so entered my PIN. When I had done this the computerized voice asked me to do this procedure again. At the end, it asked the same thing again and again. Obviously something was wrong. I pushed the * symbol (as asked to do) for customer service. Around 1pm (CA time) Lisa came on the phone. I explained the situation and she checked out my card. “Call back in
again and the second the computerized voice comes on the line, immediately punch in your PIN” she said.
Again, without joy I ended up calling customer service. About 5 minutes later Phyllis came on the line. After explaining the above she told me that the card had expired. I mentioned that firstly there was NOTHING on the front or the back of the packaging, or on the front of the phone card for that matter that said anything about any expiration date. (The reverse of any of the phone cards cannot be seen until they are taken out of the packaging due to a full cardboard backing.) I also mentioned that even though this was the first time that I had ever seen the back of the card it said at the base on the back of the card, “Expires 1 year from first use or 8/99.” I hadn’t even used it yet?
While on the phone with her she asked me to open up the $10 and $20 cards. Expiration dates on the back of these two cards were 3/99 and 5/99. Again, there was no way of telling this unless you opened up the packaging. Trying to explain this to her was like trying to teach a dog to speak English, it was pointless. So after wasting five minutes of my time I ended the call.
At 4.25pm the same day I called customer service and asked Warren to get a supervisor to call me back. Ten minutes later “Darlene” called me. She concluded that I had to send the cards to an address in NJ (mentioned at the end of this letter) and I would be sent some new cards. Firstly I asked if I could talk to the Vice President or the CEO of the company. I wanted to explain this scenario to a higher power and hoped that they could understand the situation and to save time give me 3 new PIN numbers over the phone to rectify the errors mentioned. I told Darlene that the US postal system like any in the world is not 100% guaranteed. I don’t mind paying 55 cents to send the three cards to their destination, but they could get lost in the mail. Then I’m at a loss of $35. And as there was no mention of any expiration date on any of their packaging, in my opinion I feel that it should be the company’s duty to guarantee the safe delivery of the cards. This being the case I wanted an assurance that my $35 worth of phone cards would reach their offices. I wanted them to be sent with a guaranteed delivery with a service like (the USPS’) “return of receipt,” where at least that way someone would have to sign for the envelope and it was proof that they had received it.
Her response was as follows. “The highest person that you can talk to is the manager. That person will be in tomorrow. They will say the same thing that I am going to tell you, that you will have to mail the cards in. I cannot give you the manager’s name; I am not authorized to do that. Yes we do have a CEO but I’m not authorized to give out that information.”
When I asked her how I was to find out that information she responded by saying, “I would have to find that out myself.” When I said that I was talking to an employee of Vo Call right there and then, where else was I supposed to find out such information if she couldn’t give it to me? Her simple response was, “it’s public knowledge. I can’t give it to you, I’m not authorized to.” Well if it’s public knowledge then, why on Earth can’t she release that information to the customer? Talk about a company who are making it as hard as possible for their consumers?
I don’t think I have to explain much more about my conversation with Darlene and how I got absolutely nowhere after a 20-minute conversation.
Where do I stand legally on this? Can the BBB help or is this a matter for the FCC or the National Fraud Center. I’m not suggesting that their company is a fraudulent operation, but they obviously have no intentions of justifying their marketing errors with any guarantee of their ‘invalid’ phone cards arriving at their destination, hence their headquarters. I’ve found many companies in the US when at fault will pay for or at least credit the customer for any inconvenience they’ve had regarding postage and packaging fee’s etc. Also if a supervisor of a company isn’t authorized to let customers know, or even be connected to someone higher up in the company to view a complaint, I personally find that very suspicious? Even if the buyer isn’t allowed the phone number of the headquarters, why can’t they be transferred through to it?
The company’s name is VoCall. To reach them their customer service number is 1-800-891-6530. The address I was given to send my cards to and I presume a main office is as follows: PO Box 29, Springfield, NJ 07081.
I appreciate your time and await your response on this matter. Regards, Johnny Anderson.
UPDATE On Monday 7-24-2000, I received a one page response letter from Debra Maiorano at VoCall, via the BBB. In short their letter was a blueprint of what I'd said above. They still flatly refused to pay for the certified mail (or UPS/FedEx etc) to get my $45 worth of phone cards to them. (I'd found another sealed $10 card since the writing of the above letter). At one point in her letter she states ..."the expiration date is normally printed on the back of the calling card, as well as on the back of the package. However it is possible that due to a printing error, Mr. Anderson's calling cards did not have an expiration date printed on the package." And yet still they do not accept responsibility here and offer to pay shipping charges. To add insult to injury she later states ..."We do ship our calling cards via UPS, and always guarantee delivery of the calling cards to our customers." Would it have been that hard to simply offer to mail me a UPS envelope already filled out so that I could mail the cards to them. Or maybe even offer COD (cash on delivery.) Talk about bad business ethics for a company? I'm now writing to our local congressman after having spoken to the California Utilities Commission and City Hall over this matter. City Hall suggested that I go straight to the Attorney General with this. I'll see what happens with our local congressman first of all. I'll keep you updated and thanks for reading.
UPDATE (Friday 9-1-2000) Our local Congressman David Dreier was a great help. After receiving all relevant information from me, he then wrote to the BBB in Springfield, NJ filing a second complaint. On 8-11-2000 the infamous Debra A. Maiorano responded. The letter was nothing enlightening but in her last paragraph she stated, "...we will be glad to reimburse the shipping cost, upon receipt of the calling cards and packages. Our offer to issue a refund is contingent upon us verifying that the expiration date was not printed in the back of the packages, as stated by Mr. Anderson."
That sounds simple enough doesn't it? So on Tuesday 8-22-00, I mailed all four phone cards and their packaging and enclosed a letter to Debra Maiorano. This envelope was CERTIFIED and addressed to her personally. In my letter I simply requested that I be called as soon as SHE received my package. Is that too much to ask? For this company this simple task obviously is! After hearing NOTHING for TEN DAYS, I called Debra. I asked her why she hadn't called me when SHE received the letter. "We got the letter a week ago. I cannot personally respond to every letter that comes through this door," she replied. "I gave it to a member of staff." When I asked her if she could have at least followed up to see if that call had been made to me, she said, "the staff member should have called you." Understanding how awkward Debra could be, I didn't even continue that part of the conversation any further as I knew it would be a complete waste of time. So I asked her if she could find out if my cards had been mailed back to me yet. In her sarcastic, uncaring, monotonous tone she replied, "Oh Cycilia's on vacation and she'll be back on Tuesday (9-5-00)." I'd had enough, I had to put the phone down.
What a way to run a business eh? I'm more than appalled. I cannot find words that even begin to describe how disgusted I am with Debra's complete and utter lack of morals. Without any exaggeration, this has to be in my top three of the worst companies in the US that I've EVER, EVER dealt with. I'll keep you updated and thanks for your reading, Johnny Anderson.
This company is beyond appalling. I cannot find a word in the lowest depths of my mind that can express my disgust toward this 'so called' company?'
Back to Some really Pathetic people.
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