logoGrasshopper advertises heavily on radio for its business telephone system, offering small businesses the opportunity to appear large, with toll-free numbers and voice mail. And while it may be a good fit for many independent operators, there may be a risk in making an external communications company your only link with the outside world.

“The telephone management system has been down nationwide over 24 hours now,” Ruth, of Palos Verdes, Calif., told ConsumerAffairs.com. “I am an equine veterinarian, and my business is effectively shut down. I have no office for people to come to. I make house calls after speaking with clients when they call...IF they can call!”

Publishing a backup number for clients, or an email address, might be a good idea.

Our mistake, but your loss

Here is yet another report from a consumer who says she was wrongly charged, but appears to be getting a run around while attempting to get her money back.

“I purchased a dress from Target and during the check out I scanned my bank card and entered my pin,” said Dana, of Clarksville, Tenn. “Then the cashier asked if I would swipe it again because she hit the wrong button. I swiped the card again entered my pin once again. I asked her if I was going to be charged twice now. She insisted that it only went through once.”

But of course, Dana said she was charged twice – clearly a mistake since it was the same day, same time, and same price.

“I was told that I would have to call a 800 number, Dana said. “I called and they told me they will investigate it and call me back. Weeks passed until I finally called them, and still nothing! A few more weeks pass and I finally receive a letter in the mail stating that there is nothing that they can do about it. Basically, saying that I am a liar.”

Mistakes happen and unfortunately, it's usually the consumer who ends up paying for it.

More transparency, please

Matthew, of Livermore, Calif., said he was shocked when he received a letter from a collection agency acting on behalf of Verizon.

“Really? $26? I spend $2000+ on their wireless service and they send my closed DSL account to collections for a $26.66 trailing balance without so much as the common courtesy of a phone call or even an email,” Matthew told ConsumerAffairs.com. “How about sending me a freaking bill?”

As Matthew explains it, he closed his DSL account in February but has continued to check his Verizon account online to make sure there were no trailing charges.

“Turns out, they don't update the 'Account Summary' with those charges,” he said. “Apparently, to Verizon, 'Paid in Full! Thank You!' means "you're account is past due and we're sending you to collections for a measly amount of money!"

Matthew is understandably peeved. Businesses that allow things like this to fall through the cracks end up alienating good customers.

No sound, or too much

There certainly are a lot of problems with flat screen TVs. If they aren't catching fire, they develop lines or dots on the screen. Marlena, of New York, N.Y., reports a problem with her 47 inch Vizio that we had not heard before.

“About two weeks after using it, the volume would disappear and I am not able to use any function on the TV,” Marlena said. “In order to reset the TV to working order you have to manually unplug and replug the TV into the electrical socket. This happens about once to twice a week.”

That's not all. She said occasionally there is a loud piercing sound from the set, resembling a fire alarm. She reports Vizio has told her they can't help her because their record of her purchase of the TV is not the same date as she bought it.