'Que pasa slamming' cheats consumers with unfamiliar language

August 29, 2013

Thousands of people in Illinois may have had their long-distance provider changed and don't even know it.

Others who do realize it call the company to find out what's up, but instead hear a recorded conversation in Spanish. It's between the phone company representative and the purported customer, and it features the so-called customer saying "si," "yes, I agree to the new long-distance service."

"And I cracked up laughing because I'm thinking to myself, there's this person, it sounded like either a little child or a very squeaky lady, si, si, si, and it's all in Spanish, so I cracked up laughing," said Marge Narro, scamming victim.

Berwyn resident Marge Narro says it wasn't funny that she could have lost thousands of dollars to Que Pasa slamming, the use of an unfamiliar language to cheat her.

"So, I said I may be of Hispanic descent, but I do not speak or understand Spanish, so that definitely is not me," said Narro.

"This one is outrageous because it's completely concocted," said Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan.

Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan says she will file suit Friday morning against Optic Internet Protocol Company, in business here since 2007, alleging it switched phone owners service without authorization and defrauded customers with a fabricated tape recording.

The state will demand OIP'S long distance contracts in Illinois be rescinded, money be refunded to customers, and the firm banned from doing business here.

"It is illegal to be slammed. You have the right to decide to change who your provider is going to be for your long distance service but it's illegal when someone does that without your authorization," said Madigan.

Debra Zamora does speak Spanish. She says there were two problems with the company's tape in Spanish, allegedly of her husband agreeing to switch long distance providers. One, they got his first name wrong, and two, it wasn't him.

"I've been married to my husband for 35 years. I should know his voice," said Debra Zamora, que pasa slamming victim. "It was very disheartening that they were able to do that and that I had to go to this extreme to undo this."

Here is one of the addresses near Atlanta where state investigators say Optic Internet Protocol is headquartered. On its website, OIP claims it's "customers go further, aim higher and get to the future faster."

According to this posted document of OIP rules, customers may not change service "without the written consent of the company."

If you're the consumer, you don't have to put up with such one-sided tactics.

"People just have to scrutinize their bills and don't automatically assume that everyone's correct," said Narro.

"When you get your phone bill you get 5 to 6 pages of different bills. Look at them. Really look at them," said Zamora.

"If you see a name of a company, a name of a service, you don't know what the heck it is, you need to call the phone company and you need to ask what's on your bill, how did it get there?" said Madigan.

State investigators say they have received 17 similar complaints against OIP and the attorney general says there are also complaints in other states.

The ABC7 I-Team made numerous requests for comment to the president of the company but never received a reply.

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