How to get money back from WOW?
May 26, 2011 6:34 PM   Subscribe

How should we handle our dispute with Wide Open West over a modem?

Ms. Kwine purchased a cable modem from her St. Louis internet provider several years ago. When she relocated to Columbus, OH, we were able to use this modem with WOW's internet service. When we called to cancel our service in Columbus, WOW confirmed that we did not have any of their equipment-in fact, they were able to disconnect our service without entering our home. We have recently relocated to Seattle; we brought our modem with us.

Now, WOW is claiming that we have their modem, and has debited our checking account for $200. Ms. Kwine has spoken with them several times on the phone; they have a correct model number, but an incorrect serial number, for the modem. As they already have our money, we seem to find ourselves in a situation where we have to 'prove' that we deserve our money back-rather than that WOW has to 'prove' that we have their modem. This is, I suppose, a modern peril of automatic bill pay.

What is the easiest way for us to get our money back? It is not a negligible amount of money for us, but neither is this an omg-bills-not-getting-paid type situation.
posted by Kwine to Work & Money (5 answers total)
Call your bank. Ask about the procedure to dispute these unauthorized and invalid charges. The exact procedure and rules will vary depending on precisely how the payment was made (e.g. was it with a debit card or a direct ACH debit where you gave them your checking account number?) but there should be some sort of mechanism to file a dispute. Start this process quickly, as there are generally strict time limits involved. I would also ask the bank whether you can revoke your authorization for future charges or otherwise ensure they cannot charge you any more money directly.

This, BTW, is one reason why it can be helpful to run these kind of automatic charges through a credit card instead of straight from your checking account, provided that you can pay off the balance in full every month. With credit card charges, you have a window of time where you can see your statement and address any problems before you pay. If you initiate a credit card dispute, you don't have to pay the disputed amount unless and until the dispute is resolved against you. Or you can always go back to the old fashioned way and not opt into these sorts of automatic payments, provided that you have a system that will ensure you're not paying late fees.
posted by zachlipton at 6:52 PM on May 26, 2011 [1 favorite]

The first thing I would do is have them send you all records of your bills, and proof of you purchasing the modem. Somewhere in their records it should also show what serial number your modem connected with, proving that you didn't have the modem that they think you do. With those (and even if they won't give them to you), I would then contact your bank's fraud division and get them involved.

Then there's bringing attention to their shoddy practices without slandering them over Twitter and local forums where there may be lots of WOW customers. You may find others in the same position. But I'd recommend the above first.
posted by hanoixan at 6:58 PM on May 26, 2011

Deal with this through your bank by disputing the charge. That's the easy part.

Additionally, send the company a certified letter citing their mistake. Keep a copy for your records in case this $200 charge is accidentally kicked over to a collection agency.

Wash. Rinse. Repeat until the problem is solved.

Whatever you do, keep it all in writing!
posted by jbenben at 8:51 PM on May 26, 2011

I hated WOW. My old complex had a contract with them and therefore forced the residents to use them. There were other options available in the area and I desperately wanted to use them after my experience with WOW. They forced me to use their modem and rent it from them, which was ludicrous- buying my own would have been so much cheaper. That aside, I probably had to reset the damn thing 100 times during my two year stay in said complex. My internet was constantly going down, I could never rely on a stable connection, and I paid for their fastest "speed." Which was a joke, it never performed properly. I checked my speed on all the time and it was much slower than what I was paying for. I'm sorry for your plight, I'd call and demand to speak to whatever minion you get's supervisor and threaten them with a call to the BBB.
posted by JeSuisLibre at 9:54 PM on May 26, 2011

threaten them with a call to the BBB.

Speaking as a phone minion, people seem to assume the BBB has some sort of magic power, but for the most part we're instructed to ignore threats. The more awful the company the less they're inclined to hop it when you try to threaten their reputation. And some companies specifically pay the BBB to get rid of these comments as part of their operating costs ("affiliated with the BBB") as part of routine operating costs.
posted by Phalene at 6:34 AM on May 27, 2011

« Older What are your favorite simple home decor craft...   |   How can I make my curly hair fabulous for cheap... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.