Business Owner Gets $216,464 AT&T Bill - for Phone That Never Worked

<b class="credit">dishekie/reddit</b>

A business owner was already a little miffed at AT&T when the phone line it installed didn't work. So imagine how upset he was when the company sent him a bill for $216,464.75.

The user posted the offending bill on Reddit back in March, then posted an updated bill this week -- pictured above, and now slightly adjusted to a more manageable $215,653.58. He notes that he has continued to fight the bill since it first arrived with no resolution in sight.

So, yes, that's six months with a phone bill equivalent to the price of a decent house hanging over his head. Apparently, during the week that the VOIP (voice over IP) phone was installed (but not functional), it was somehow hacked to make fraudulent phone calls -- a lot of them. Hence the huge bill.

The situation may be nearing a resolution, though. This week, the popular blog BoingBoing took notice of the ludicrous bill, and it seems that exposure escalated the matter to higher-ups at the company.

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The aggrieved customer posted yesterday that he'd received an email stating that AT&T's CFO is looking into it. (Though one commenter on the Reddit thread suggests that may not be quite accurate. "Fair warning - the CFO is probably not looking into this," wrote the user with the handle "FreakyCheeseMan." "AT&T has a special tier of customer support known as the "Office of the President" ... I strongly suspect that that's what you're getting here - some other level of customer service peons.")

But the mis-billed businessman is taking a wait-and-see approach. "Nothing has gone to collections or anything like that yet," he writes. "I am kind of just waiting at this point to see what will happen."

Assuming this does wind up getting resolved in his favor, it's more evidence that social media can be a powerful tool for resolving difficult customer service issues. Getting your issue widely publicized through Twitter or a social news platform like Reddit can light a fire under a customer service operation a lot more effectively than spending months on the phone. We're guessing that right now, someone with real authority is seeing that the bill is clearly a mistake -- and figuring out that the now-former customer has no intention of paying.

We've reached out to the person who posted the bill, and will let you know if we learn more about the situation.