Paying bills is never a particularly enjoyable process, but it’s even worse when you believe that some scumbag company has latched on to your personal information and started charging you for a service you know with absolute certainty you never requested.
This happened to me yesterday, and it’s not the first time: My Verizon bill included a $20 charge “billed on behalf of Headwind Media” ostensibly for “Cmi xclusivemo.” You can see the charge from Headwind Media in the scan above.
It’s probably no coincidence that a Google search for “cmi xclusivemo” returns as its first result this Ripoff Report page.
Here’s another one worth viewing; search for “Headwind” on that page and look at the comments.
Do a search for “Headwind Media” on Google and look at all the complaints that turn up.
My guess is that Headwind Media is doing some sort of data mining to add customers to their books: When I called to have them remove the charge from my phone bill (which, to their dubious credit, the Headwind Media representative said they would), I was told that the account was activated using an email address I haven’t used in years (and barely used when I did).
Plus, the woman on the phone who was looking into the account referenced the name of my wife, who never had access to that email address to begin with.
About five seconds of Googling will demonstrate how the Internet is lousy with complaints about this sort of practice.
It needs to stop.
Oh, by the way: If someone from Headwind Media should actually get back in touch with me, I will be more than happy to print their response unedited. I sent emails to several addresses I found online (two of them returned delivery errors as I write this) saying, among other things, that I “would appreciate your perspective on how my phone bill could get charged by your company using information that is both erroneous and outdated.” One response from this address was simply: “What can we do for you?” Ummmmm … for starters, show that you actually read my email?
Takeaway for everyone: Take a very close look at your phone bill before you pay it.
JANUARY 26 UPDATE: Everyone in the world of customer service should be half as helpful and as nice as the Lisa from Verizon I just spoke with. A few takeaways:
(1) You can call your phone company and put an automatic block on miscellaneous charges like these, though it’s not 100 percent foolproof (Lisa said she was obligated to say that, but she also added that for all intents and purposes it really is).
(2) Lisa told me that I was the fourth person today calling her about Headwind Media. Multiply Lisa by however many customer service representatives Verizon has, and the magnitude of whatever they’re up to becomes clear.
(3) Lisa told me that in addition to Headwind Media, the two other companies people complain most about for similar practices are OAN and ESBI. Search for either of those along with “telephone” and “bill” and you’ll see all the complaints out there.
Another takeaway for everyone: Call your phone company immediately and block the charges now — before they get added to your phone bill without your knowledge.