It's kind of a long story, so I'll write it over the space of several posts. I don't know if the story is over, but I think maybe it is, almost.
I've wondered whether to use the real name of the telephone companies involved and the real names of the people I dealt with. I'm thinking I'll share the company names, but give the employees fictional names to protect their jobs. Some of them don't deserve to have them protected, but others do.
What follows is what happened, reported to the best of my ability to reconstruct it from what I remember, my notes, and the letters, bills, and email messages I received.
Several years ago I ordered two phone lines from a small phone company, Brooks Fiber Communications, that had recently become available locally and was pretty inexpensive. I wanted a line to use for my computer dial up connection, and another line for my fax machine and 800 number, over which I hoped to receive orders for my books. (I'm a writer and micro publisher, mostly reprinting my own books previously published by large publishers.)
After awhile I set up the billing to be paid automatically by credit card. I scarcely looked at the bills at all, knowing it was pretty much flat rate charges from month to month.
After a few years, we got DSL for the computer connection, but I didn't cancel the phone line I'd previously used because I was still using the other line once in awhile and being a bit of a put-it- off'er it was easy to allow that task to be one of those that I'd do later. I wondered from time to time if I was getting enough use from the fax/800 number line to be worth keeping it, and that also contributed to my not canceling them.
Time passed, and I kept on paying the bills because it was automatic, and I just didn't think of those questionable phone lines very often.
I'm not sure when I happened to notice a letter from Verizon/MCI that made me curious. I may have received other letters before from MCI, but since I had no accounts with that company I would have tossed them into the trash unopened thinking they were more junk mail offering me phone service. I didn't open mail from Verizon because I always paid the bill for my cell phone online, the only account that I had with Verizon. Why I opened this one I'm not quite sure, but what I saw shocked me. It said I owed MCI hundreds of dollars! What?! How was this possible? I didn't even have an account with MCI.