I closed my MCI account 4 months ago when I moved. Since then I have continued to receive bills from them. Twice now I have called MCI, sat on hold for 20 minutes, and talked to some operator explaining that my account ended in December and I should not be billed. Twice I have received assurances that the problem will be taken care of. It has not been – the bills keep coming.

I will call again, but assuming (as now seems very likely) that nets no better result, I have some advice to ask: how do I take this to the next level? Better Business Bureau? Contact my congressman? Lawyer? Go to their offices and rant and storm until security drags me out? What recourse does a citizen have when a corporation is completely divorced from reality, when it uses red tape, clueless gatekeepers, and an inherently obfuscatory bureaucracy to “forget” that an account has been canceled? What should I do next?

I would simply ignore the bills and wait for them to disconnect it themselves, but I am afraid that would damage my credit rating.

PS: I strongly urge everyone NOT to use MCI for any reason whatever. They are BY FAR the worst company I have ever had to deal with for anything ever, and I would sooner shoot myself in the throat than willingly engage in any further transaction with them. They originally “poached” me by calling me and falsely indicating that zoning changes forced me to switch from PacBell to MCI (yeah I know, I was too lazy to check up on it); later, when I told them I would be moving, they said it would cost $180 to change phone lines and I would have to wait up to 60 days before I even knew whether the new phone line would be able to be activated. They actually, with a straight face, expected me to fork over almost $200 for the privilege of waiting around sans phone for as much as 2 months! Now, 4 months after I canceled my account, they continue to hound me with a kind of cheerful, “Single White Female” blankness.

I’m no Clark Howard (, but a couple of things:

Reporting to the BBB will not help your case. It will help others who are thinking about going to MCI, and could perhaps lead to an investigation, but for you, it will not do anything (but file a complaint anyway!).

Next time you get on the phone with someone, make sure they send you a letter (not e-mail) confirming that your account was closed in December and you are not due for any bills after. Keep this letter in your files FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE.

I would recommend you get a copy of your credit report (free in some states or you can pay a few bucks and get one done online). Make sure you haven’t been reported as delinquent. If you have, explain as such to MCI and have them issue a retraction and send you a letter stating as such. Again, keep this letter on file FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE.

Lastly, and this will hopefully come from someone more knowledgable, see if there is a local utility commission you can talk to (I am not sure if this extends to phones or is limited to gas/water/electric). If there is, make sure you let them know your problem as soon as possible. From what I’ve heard locally, they are pretty good about getting issues resolved.

Irish customer service is notoriously poor, basically because the Irish will sheepishly put up with just about anything without raising a fuss (it is hard to get upset about British tyranny when the Irish populace prostates themselves in front of the mobile company and pay them 40 cents per minute, especially when you consider the fact that Eircom doesn’t even have guns). So I’ve become an expert at dealing with incompetency and inefficiency lately. Here’s some general tips.

Just some common sense advice: when you dial up, be polite but firm. Never lose your cool. When you get the operator, ask to speak to a customer service manager. Do not let her offload you onto anyone else, or have her try to solve your problem herself. If she starts, politely say that you want the manager himself to resolve your problem.

When you get the manager, write down his name and ask him for his direct extension. Explain your situation and request that not only the problems be resolved, but also ask for the letters that Lionel has recommended, and ask for the manager to not only post those but fax you a copy as well. Say that you expect to receive the fax transmission the exact same day. The manager might balk at this, saying it is against company policy, to which you reply (again, never losing your cool and always being polite) that if that is the case, you would like to speak to either his boss or the person responsible for instituting that policy.

Don’t hang up with an unconfirmable promise for action. If the manager says he’ll “look into it and get back to you”, get a timeline, and make sure that timeline is same day. If he doesn’t get back to you, call back. If he dodges your calls, dial the switchboard and ask for his boss. Don’t give up - this is not about convenience for you. Convenience is irrelevant. This is about getting something done no matter how long it takes.

You want to pursue this with the same undaunting tirelessness with which someone pursues vengaence against the thugs that raped and murdered his girlfriend. If you have to, keep on muttering to yourself: “You remember, boy… the Crow said don’t look.” That’ll put you in the mood.

The main things are: get the full names of everyone you talk to - this makes it a personal exchange, and bother to introduce yourself. Get promises backed up in writing in three formats (post, fax, email). Never lose your cool, never get angry, always be polite. Don’t give up. If you follow all that, you should have what you want within thirty minutes.

As an addendum, most companies now have a policy where they will deny you the ability to receive the full names of their employees—but you can get their employee id numbers at the drop of a hat.

You know that most employees just make those ID numbers up on the fly right? Or at least we always did :P

All of Lionel’s advice is good.

The CA Public Utilities Commission ( might be able to help out, but since MCI is (I assume) providing you with long distance rather than local service, you might need to take your complaint to the Federal Communications Commission (


No, it was local service I was getting from MCI. And now I am being “serviced” by them in an entirely different way.

Thanks for all the advice so far.

Oh yeah, one more thing –




Keep in mind that you are only receiving bills. You don’t have to pay them. It’s pretty much in MCI’s court to collect payment from you.

Of course taking care of it now heads off the possibly inevitable collection agency extravaganza.

It’s a real shame that there’s no way to easily sue companies like this for lost time and annoyance.

Yeah, as I said I’d just ignore the bills but I don’t want to damage my credit rating.

I like MCI cafeterias.

those are MCL, not MCI. :)

  • mlatin - also somewhere in the midwest -

Your state should have a regulatory board. In ohio it is the PUCO. Call them, they will see your complaint is valid and assign you your very own special MCI person who will do nothing but kiss your ass and correct the situation.


I had a billing problem with MCI (they charged me twice) and it took about four months to work through all of their nonsense.

However, I love the MCI Neighborhood plan. Unlimited local, local long distance, and long distance for $50, including caller ID, voicemail, call forwarding & some other bells & whistles. Being able to listen & manage voicemail with a web browser is nice too. Since we use about 2500 minutes of long distance a month, this is an unbeatable bargain.

Well, I wouldn’t care at this point if the MCI Neighborhood Plan included a free BJ from Elizabeth Hurley every second Tuesday. Nothing on God’s Green Earth would induce me to spend another second in willing contract with these vampiric lifesuckers.

YMMV I suppose.

Well, for me, that has to be the worst condemnation of a company I have ever heard.

I was going to add Charter Communications as my nominee for most hated companies with its poor internet and customer service, but I could probably hold out if my sporadic at best connection included a BJ from EH. Gordon, I see you are truly at the end of your rope.

Seriously, man. I want to scream at them like Samuel L. Jackson in “Changing Lanes.” “I want my time! Can you give me my time back???”

I did have a credit card problem that took up a substantial amount of time. I received one I was going to use for Christmas at 0%, they signed me up for that stupid-ass credit protection, and charged me for 2 mos. before I saw it. They could send me nothing that proved I signed up for it and it took me multiple calls a 4 month period to be refunded my sixty-something dollars.

It was [size=5]FLEET VISA[/size], BTW.

“Sorry, better luck next time.”

At least if you didn’t pay and they sent it to a collection agency, you had CREDIT PROTECTION!

Don’t get me started on credit card companies. We had a Qt3 thread awhile back on managing money and since then I am “seriously hating”, as a hip-hop dude would say. Ugh.