Monitronics — Failure to stop billing
This is old stuff, but I was cleaning out some old paperwork from my desk, and decided to Google Monitronics and Fraud, and sure enough it sounds like they are still up to their old tricks. So here's my story for all you other frustrated Monitronics customers out there.
In December of 1999 I signed a contract with Monitronics International to monitor my home security system. That contract included an automatic annual renewal, with a 90-day written cancellation policy. From January of 1999 until Spring of 2002, I only received a couple of letters stating that my rates would be raised, but I never received any notifications of contract renewal, or anything other than the automated debiting of $30-$32 per month from my checking account.
In the Spring of 2002, my system started doing weird things. After several phone calls, I finally convinced Monitronics to send out a technician. He said it was so old he wasn’t even familiar with it. He recommended replacement, but he couldn’t quote for me, saying I would have to call Monitronics to get a price. When I called them, they said they would have to send someone out to give me a quote.
In August of 2002, the equipment failed completely. It went into siren mode while I was showering, and wouldn’t stop unless unplugged and de-batteried. When I called for service, the response was that it was not a problem because they weren’t any phone calls from the system. I had to kill the equipment and I faxed in a request to have monitoring cease immediately. I believe I was offered a choice of buying a new system and signing up with Monitronics for three more years, but I do not recall the details of that offer, because I was so disappointed with the so-called “service”, that I wanted to cancel. Another company installed an alarm system at my house a week later. I called to cancel Monitronics. I was told that since my contract had automatically renewed until December, that I would have to keep paying the monthly fee until then, and also that the only way to cancel was in writing.
September 11, 2002, I sent a letter of cancellation, to the address indicated at the top of this letter. In it, I specifically requested written confirmation of the cancellation of my account. November 12, 2002, I had not yet received any confirmation of the cancellation. I called their Customer Service department, and spoke with a representative who identified herself as Denise. She confirmed that my contract would be canceled as of December and I would receive no more charges after my contract expired in December, 2002. She led me to believe that she was actually looking at the physical letter I had sent.
February, 2003, I realized that my checking account was still be automatically debited for a monthly fee for a service I had not received for over six months. I wrote a second letter to complain. After several calls I found that there is no procedure company for dealing with (ex-) customer complaints such as mine. There was refusal to allow me to speak to anyone of any authority, there was denial that a letter was received in September, and I was even told that since I had not sent the letter via certified mail, I was out of luck. That is not a practice I find that I normally have to follow. March, 2003: I held the line until I was able to speak with someone who was apparently a supervisor for the customer service department. She insisted that there was no record of ever having received a letter, there was no record of my having called in November, that there was never a Denise working for her department, and finally that in January of 2002 I had agreed to renew my contract for 9 months, not the standard 12, and therefore any cancellation should have been received in July. At that point, I felt like the story was going to keep changing in order to keep me bound to a contract forever.
March, 2003: In another call, I was assured that the automatic debit process from my checking account would be lifted. It was not. I had to have the account barred from any more debits by Monitronics (at a cost of $25 by my bank to stop payments).
April 21, 2003: I sent a letter of explanation via certified mail. April 22, 2003: I received two letters dated 4/17 warning me that “service may be interrupted” due to lack of payment, after I had stopped the automated debits of February and March. I both called the number indicated, as well as spoke with individuals who called me. I always insisted that my account had been canceled as of December, and they always insisted it hadn’t. We were at an impasse.
May 2003: I received a letter dated 5/1 that thanked me for my inquiry about cancellation, and offered a special lower rate!
May 7, 2003: I spoke with a Terry Stone, followed by Samuel in the Account Resolutions department. He indicated that I was still under contract, and he was puzzled as to why someone had changed my contract from January 2003 to October 2003 instead of January 2003 – January 2004 (caught in their own lies!). Yet he still insisted I was to be billed until October 2003, even though no monitoring was occurring, and that the account would be turned over to a collections agency. Samuel promised to send me a letter confirming that my account would be canceled as of October 2003, which I never received.
June 2003: I received a statement dated 6/3/03, indicating that the charges were up to $208.85.
June 5, 2003: I submitted my report to /link removed/
June 30, 2003: A rebuttal was posted to /link removed/ which basically said they are reputable, blah blah blah.
July, 2003: I received a statement dated 7/3/03 indicating an “Adjustment” of $208.85 to the account, dropping the old balance to zero, but adding another $31.75, due 7/24/03.
August, 2003: I received a statement dated early August with a past due amount and a new monthly charge.
August, 2003 I received a letter from a Customer Service representative which apologizes for her mistake in how she canceled my account in June, and that all debts and obligations are now dropped.
August, 2003: I received four phone calls from Monitronics to discuss my past due account, after receiving the previously mentioned letter.
After August 2003, I believe everything finally dropped. But I suppose I should go check my credit report...
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