PhotoWith all the emphasis on mobile phones, it's easy to forget about old fashioned landlines. Many people depend on their residential telephone- not a wireless device – for vital communication, and they miss it when it isn't there.

“I have been complaining to AT&T for two months that my landline does not work,” Mary, of Canterbury, Conn., told “We checked the inside wiring and the problem is outside. No dial, static on phone. Cannot receive calls and make outgoing calls. I am being billed for phone calls. I have not had service for two months--how could I make these calls? The customer service reps are very rude. There is approximately $86.00 not I do not owe. I am billed for phone service I do not have.”

Two months is too long to wait for a repair, so something is obviously not right about this. In fact, Connecticut's utility regulators earlier this year leveled a $745,000 civil fine against AT&T, claiming the communications giant failed to meet a quality service standard when it comes to repairs. The standard requires the company to make repairs to at least 90 percent of out-of-service problems reported within a 24-hour period. In too many cases, say state officials, consumers were left without phone service for much longer periods. Mary could start by filing a complaint with the Connecticut Public Utilities Department

Keep your paperwork

Consumers report being nickeled and dimed – actually a lot more than nickels and dimes – by nearly all the rental car agencies. Especially troubling are extra changes for refueling when the consumer has taken pains to return the car full of gas.

“Before returning my rental vehicle I refueled at the nearest gas station to ensure it had a full fuel tank,” said Samuel, of Las Vegas, Nev. “The serviceman verified the tank to be full upon return to Hertz Rent A Car in Denver on August 29. I was checking my credit card account on September 17 and I found an unauthorized charge from Hertz for the amount of $95.69 charged on September 13. On September 19, I received a letter from Hertz stating when the car was serviced 10.3 gallons of fuel were needed to fill up the tank.”

Samuel said a Hertz attendant verified a full tank. Surely that is noted somewhere in the paperwork. If Samuel still has his paperwork, he should be able to straighten this out. The lesson is to hold on to your rental receipts for several months.

Check the calendar

Patricia, of Cumming, Ga., experienced a system crash on her Lenovo laptop on September 20. It was made all the worse because she lost work she had just completed and would be out of action the following day because of jury duty.

“I spent last night recreating the work that I had just lost on it, so when I went to jury duty this morning I wouldn't be thinking about recreating the work that was due,” Patricia told “After returning from Jury Duty I called Lenovo customer service. Turns out my warranty expired yesterday. They said there wasn't anything they could do for me. Since I didn't call last night before midnight I was just out of luck.”

Patricia is angry at Lenovo, but in fairness to the company, the warranty was up, even if she only missed it by hours. The company might have made a friend for life if they had honored it anyway, but chances are no one at the level she was dealing with could make that call.

Another nightmare

Over the past three years we have read about all kinds of problems homeowners have experienced while going through the modification process. Often it includes a lack of communication with the loan servicer. Nancy, of Napimo, Calif., says she thought she had things worked out with Chase when she started making mortgage payments in July. But the bank wouldn't accept her payments.

“Every month I would spend hours on the phone with them with no explanation and disputing the fact any payments were being made,” Nancy said. “I finally went to the bank in person to make a payment and they also rejected payment, telling me my house sold in March 2011.”

While that news was shocking, Nancy said the confusion continued because she has now received a notice of foreclosure. Shouldn't she have received that before her house was sold? Nancy should speak to someone in California Attorney General Kamala Harris' office.  

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