This story is mind-boggling for so many reasons. A $24,000 charge from AT&T? Someone actually pays $51 a month for dial-up access? People actually still use AOL? We must be living in some bizzaro world when things like this are still taking place, but let’s first start from the beginning with 83-year-old Los Angeles resident Ron Dorff.
Dorff is a retiree living off a monthly income of roughly $1,500 per month via his Social Security checks. And he inexplicably is paying AT&T $51 for internet access — but this isn’t your garden variety AT&T DSL or U-Verse connection, it’s **gasp** dial-up. Yes, dial-up Internet in this day and age which is priced higher than some broadband plans that are light-years faster in speed.
But the cost of this antiquated method for accessing the Internet isn’t even the crux of the issue. Dorff received a bill in the mail from AT&T to the tune of $8,596.57 instead of his usual $51 bill. "I was shocked," said Dorff to LA Times reported David Lazarus. "What the hell was going on?"
He tried to contact AT&T, but customer service representatives were just as dumbfounded as he was with regards to the charge. A service representative then told Dorff that a technician would be out to examine if there was a hardware malfunction causing the outrageously high bill, but no technician ever showed up (typical).
Assuming that the no-show by the technician meant that the problem had been corrected, Dorff went about his business until he received an even larger bill the next month to the tune of $15,687.64. That brought the grand total of his debt to AT&T to $24,298.93.
Surely AT&T would have an answer by now as to why its customer had been racking up these astronomical bills. AT&T indeed had the answer for the high bills, but it wasn’t exactly backing down from it demands that Dorff pay it off in full. As it turns out, Dorff’s computer had somehow managed to begin dialing a long-distance number to access AOL — yes, THAT AOL — instead of a local number. And with him spending hours on end surfing the internet during the day, now you can see where the charges came from.
He tried to have the charges waived, but AT&T representatives weren’t budging at all. "The woman said they couldn't make an adjustment," Dorff explained. "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."
However, the tables quickly turned when David Lazarus made a call to AT&T in preparation for his story. It was only then that AT&T decided to waive the charges and allow Dorff to continue
getting ripped off paying $51/month for his dial-up access.