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Council of Better Business Bureaus ®
Start With Trust®
Council of Better Business Bureaus
BBB Warning: Prison Calling Services That Fail to Connect
March 21, 2014

Consumers from all over have turned to Better Business Bureau with complaints about Jail Call Services and Prison Call Solutions, two Texas-based companies that advertise deep discounts on phone calls between jail prisoners and their families.

In the past three years, 105 complaints have been filed against Prison Call Solutions, while more than 190 customers across the nation have filed complaints against Jail Call Services. Both companies have an “F” rating with BBB. Many complainants said they tried repeatedly to get the companies to refund their money when they couldn’t get the phone program to work, but were refused.

Several complainants were told by a prison facility’s official phone service provider that they were blocking prisoners’ calls because it was illegal to use the third-party call forwarding system required by the program. The BBBs detected a pattern of complaints and contacted the companies repeatedly, but emails and phone calls went unanswered.

Some of the language on Jail Call Services’ website is identical to the language on other companies’ websites that have offered similar discounted phone services. Those websites include US Jail Calls, US Prison Calls, Prison Call Services, and Prisoner Talk.

For those who need a service to contact someone in prison, BBB offers the following advice:

  • Contact the facility first. Different facilities will contract with different communications services. Call to ensure the company you are considering will work with the facility in question.
  • Start with trust. View the company’s BBB Business Review at bbb.org for background information and complaint statistics.
  • Read the fine print. Before you pay for anything, make sure you understand the company’s refund policy. Check the company’s complaint details at bbb.org to see if it follows its stated policy. 
  • Pay with a credit card. Charges made on a credit card can more easily be disputed than payments made by debit card.
  • Get it in writing. Make sure any guarantees or discounts – and their limitations – are spelled out in a written contract. Do not accept a verbal promise from a sales representative.

For more news and tips, visit bbb.org, read our blog, or follow us on Facebook.

Many thanks to BBB serving Eastern Missouri and Southern Illinois and BBB serving Central, Coastal, Southwest Texas and the Permian Basin for their investigations into these companies and their affiliates.