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AT&T Charged An 86-Year-Old Man $24,000 For Two Months Of Dial-Up

AT&T (Photo by Rob Wilson via Shutterstock)
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AT&T charged an 86-year-old Los Angeles man over $24,000 for using his landline phone dial into his AOL account. Ron Dorff, 86, told the L.A. Times that he pretty much only uses his landline phone to access the Internet. He's still on dial-up and uses AOL as his service provider. Dorff said that while he typically pays about $51 a month for his service, his March bill from AT&T came to a staggering $8,595.57—more than Dorff's monthly social security checks by about $7,000.

A flabbergasted Dorff called up AT&T, and the rep at the call center was equally confused. She told him she'd send a tech over, but no one ever came. Then Dorff got his bill for April, and it $15,687.64. Now, Dorff's total amount owed including fees was $24,298.93, with a warning that a few hundred would be tacked on if he didn't pay up by May 8.

Once again, Dorff called a rep who couldn't explain the situation, who sent a technician. This technician visited Dorff's home and explained it was likely a problem with his modem. So, Dorff called AT&T once more and told the woman on the other end of the line what the tech said, but Dorff said she refused to lower his bill.

"I told her I couldn't possibly afford what they wanted. She just insisted that I had to pay it. She was very blunt about it," Dorff told the Times.

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Let's do this by the numbers: A man who receives $1,530 via Social Security each month is being asked to pay $24,298.93 for two months of low-speed Internet that typically costs him about $102 for the same time frame because of a vague modem issue.

So, Dorff used his outrageously expensive phone to contact the Times. Reporter David Lazarus called up AT&T, and this time, AT&T said they would be dropping the charges. They also had an answer for why the bill was so high: the modem was dialing a long-distance number each time Dorff went to log on, and he continued to be charged by the minute. It's not clear how that happened or why AT&T didn't flag the exorbitant charges as unusual and look into them on their own, but the rep told Lazarus that the technician fixed the problem when he visited Dorff's home. She also claimed that AT&T was in the process of working things out with Dorff when the reporter called.