Is it worth fighting over 87 cents?

I think so, and that’s why after years of fuming – and fighting – nickel and dime billing abuses, I decided to start this blog.

Because when you multiply 87 cents times thousands or millions of customers, you have one stupendous rip-off.

We’ve got to stop the incessant thievery of our time and money. The battle starts here and now.

Here’s my 87 cents story: I cancelled a cable television subscription with Adelphia awhile back. Then, I started getting monthly bills showing an .87 “credit balance.” This was money they owed me for having paid in advance for cable service I was no longer receiving.

My Adelphia Bill

I figured that eventually Adelphia would send me a check for the 87 cents.

After waiting eight months for my refund, I finally called them up. When I asked Paul, the customer service representative (I always get their names), for my money back, he scoffed: “you’re serious?” as if I was some kind of crank for asking.

If I had been short 87 cents on a bill payment, you know Adelphia would have insisted I pay – and shut off my service and send my account to “collections” if I didn’t.

Not so, said Paul. He told me Adelphia would “waive” an under-payment if the account was in good standing.

I’m not buying it. Never heard of a company “waiving” its charges for “good customers.” Have you?

Meanwhile, I don’t expect to get my money back. Adelphia, bankrupt after a corporate fraud scandal, is now defunct.

Most people wouldn’t bother fighting over 87 cents. Just not worth the time – certainly not worth my time. If I calculate it out, it was a money losing proposition even to look at the bill.

But that’s exactly what companies count on when they overcharge a customer. To me, this is a matter of principle. As a consumer advocate and public interest lawyer, I’ve made matters of principle my career.

Through “Givememymoneyback,” I plan to chronicle my personal fight to be treated fairly as a consumer. I’ll also name the companies that treat their customers right.

If you’ve had similar experiences, feel free to contact me. I’ll post interesting stories from other victims.

This isn’t just about ranting. American consumers need new laws to protect themselves against billing abuses. You can help figure out what those new laws should be by sending in your stories and your own proposals for legislation.