I recently got a company cell phone. My phone service is now free (for me). My old plan was a pay as you go system by Virgin Mobile. I didn’t want to lock myself into another two year plan, so I had instead opted for a cheap phone with no contract.
When I first got service a few years ago, Virgin Mobile had somehow managed to charge my credit card for roughly five months worth of service, or around $120. How this happened I have no idea. I eventually had to remove my credit card number from their system to bring my account balance back to something reasonable. When I had only about one month’s worth of balance remaining, I entered my credit card number back into the system.
So when I learned that I would definitely be getting a phone, I decided to discontinue my old service. The problem was, I didn’t have the new service yet, and my current month was about to run out, and I only had an account balance of $19.79. I needed at least $20 to get 400 minutes — one month’s service. When I tried to change to the 400 minute plan, the web site wanted to charge me another $20. I wrote Virgin Mobile; they told me there was no way to charge less than $10. But I only needed 21 cents!
I decided I would just get the 20 cents per minute plan which would get me 98 minutes. Well it turns out, their web site wouldn’t even allow me to switch to that plan without charging my credit card. I complained and asked them to either (1) credit my money back to my credit card so I could add $20 to my account, or (2) just credit me the 21 cents. I told them that I would be traveling without a working cell phone otherwise. They cold-heartedly refused. It was pretty obvious that they had no intention of refunding any overpayment, so I temporarily refused to do anything about it.
Despite the fact that their web site said I would not be able to use my phone without purchasing another month of service, it turned out that they were actually charging my account balance at a rate of 20 cents per minute. I did not lose service. So everything worked out and I ultimately saved 21 cents. It seems like every large company has overcharging as a fundamental element of their business model.