My open letter to Global Tel Link
If you have never had the displeasure of having to communicate with someone who is in jail, consider yourself lucky for many reasons. Not the least of which is dealing with the state-sanctioned monopoly and heavily corrupted telephone system. In what has been widely documented, federal, state, local and private prisons award monopolies over the phone systems to a phone company, usually on the basis of which company is willing to give the largest kick back to the prison or local government. Global Tel Link is one of the major prison phone companies that thrives at this, and as a result, run the phones in countless prisons around the country.
Global Tel Link provides horrible service. Phone calls are often inaudible and get dropped. Meanwhile, their fees are astronomical; several dollars for the first minute and at least a dollar or so for every minute after that. These charges, of course, are made to people who can least afford it. Prisoners usually earn less than $1.00 per day in jail, often working for private companies, and yet pay twice that amount for one minute of terrible phone service. The combination of the terrible service and usurious fees have a direct and substantial impact on the attorney-client relationship. But because they have a monopoly, Global Tel Link has no business incentive to change, despite countless complaints nationwide.
Then there is GTL’s billing practice, which takes their horrible company into the world of thievery. Below is a copy of a letter that I just sent to GTL. To make a long story short, GTL sent me a bill. I paid it. They sent me the bill again, and, not realizing that I had already paid it the month before, I paid it again. Then GTL sent me a bill again, claiming that I still hadn’t paid, despite the fact that it had been paid twice. Ironically, for a phone company, they have no working telephone number where I can talk to an actual human.
September 6, 2013
Global Tel Link
PO Box 2827
Mobile, Alabama 36652-2827
RE: Error in your record keeping
Account No: 2122193244-9
Dear Sir or Madam,
On May 30, 2013, I received an invoice claiming that I had a prior balance of $79.03 and new charges of $8.98, for a total of $88.01. However, I did not owe $79.03 as that had been paid on May 17, 2013 (as reflected in the attached printout).
Unfortunately, I did not realize your error and I paid the entire amount from the invoice, $88.01, which was deposited by you on June 10, 2013 (again, see attached). Amazingly, on July 8, 2010, I received another bill claiming that I still owed $88.01, even though, 1) I didn’t owe this money in the first place and 2) I paid it even though it wasn’t owed. By letter of July 8, 2013, I notified you that the $88.01 had been paid. I did pay the new charges of $19.81 but refused to pay the $88.01. I was subsequently informed that your records were corrected.
In what can only be described as pure incompetence at best (although incompetence implies a lack of intent), I received another bill in August claiming that I still owed $68.20 from the $88.01, meaning that you merely applied my payment of $19.81 to the past due amount which, I must remind you, was 1) Never actually owed and 2) Already paid despite not actually being owed.
Exhibiting a shocking indifference to reality and the basic rules of economics, your corporation (or, I should say, the people in your corporation) referred my non-existent bill to some sort of collection agency. After I provided the gentleman (who repeatedly called my business to collect money not owed) with proof that 1) the money was never owed in the first place and 2) the money that was never owed was paid in the second place, I did not hear from him again and assumed the matter was resolved.
Now, you have chosen to send me a bill again claiming that I owe the remaining balance of $68.20 from what was never owed in the first place but nevertheless already paid.
Consequently, I am enclosing a bill for the $88.01 which must be promptly paid or credited to my account for the money that I paid but never owed. I am tempted to bill you for the absurd number of hours I have spent trying to resolve this, but will refrain from doing so for the time being.
I also ask that you send me a complete record of all charges and payments made on my account. Please contact me immediately if you would like to discuss this further.
Joshua E. Bardavid, Esq.