800 numbers, free or pay?
(Note: These tips pertain to the industry cited above and do not necessarily track our experience with the company in whose report they appear. In particular, industry complaints referenced below are typical of the industry as a whole, but not necessarily every company in the industry.)Most consumers know they can call an 800 telephone number without a charge, but they do not know that sometimes a charge can be assessed. Many businesses and other organizations offer toll-free 800 numbers to the public for accessing free information about products or services. The information provider can charge for that service if it has what is called a "pre-subscription agreement" with the customer. That agreement requires the infor- mation provider to tell the customer that there will be a charge on future calls and to give the customer a Personal Identifica- tion Number, also known as a PIN number, to identify the caller. Charges can be assessed only on future calls. The company may call the PIN number an "activation number" or an "activation code." No matter what it is called, if you have to give some kind of code when calling an 800 number, expect to see a charge for the call on your phone bill. If you believe you were mislead about being charged for the call, the billing statement will tell you how to dispute it. You can also file a complaint with the Better Business Bureau.