Back in 2013 a middle-aged man was surprised to open his phone bill to find out he was being charged upwards of $10,000 in phone dating usage fees. After cutting his ties with his girlfriend of two years, Kevin Waldrum formed a habit of calling the Studio 66 chat line to open up about his heartbreak with several women, while unaware of the huge bill he was racking up.
In 2015, a 31-year-old was jailed for three months for spending his grandmother’s life savings to fuel his chatline addiction. Anthony Brumwell splurged over $20,000 on premium chat lines, causing the cancellation of her grandmother’s insurance policy.
Stories of unaware callers accumulating extraordinary phone bills like the one above are not uncommon. Complaints of exceedingly high phone chat charges became so common in the last decade that it prompted the US government to roll out new regulations banning chat lines from charging their services automatically to the callers phone bills. Even though callers are now required to manually key-in their credit card numbers in order to use the service, surprise bills are still very common.
To some, calling a chatline and being heard by another human being provokes overwhelming feelings of comfort and well-being. Others describe meeting new people through a chatline makes them experience an exhilarating thrill. Vulnerable individials experiencing such strong emotions can quickly find become addicted to chatline services and strangely unable to hang up on phone.
Chatline operators are able to attract hundreds of thousands of callers using sexy late-night TV advertisements. Their strategy is to let the caller test drive the system by offering him a hard-to-resist free trial period during which will hopefully become hooked. Once the trial expires the caller will feel tempted to pay the fees to continue conversing in anonymity with an unlimited number of strangers.
Should you find yourself using a chat line be sure to adhere to the following recommendations:
- Monitor your usage. Time flies when you are having fun; do not get lost in the moment.
- Set a maximum budget for your chatline usage and strictly adhere to it.
- Refill your minutes manually. Avoid automatic billing.
- Once you meet someone interesting, exchange phone numbers and talk directly.
- Block callers who you are not interested in so you don’t waste minutes hearing their greetings again.
- Contact customer care right away if you notice any discrepancies on your bill.