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Call Kurtis: Puzzling Problem Over Simple Newspaper Billing Error

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Eight-time Emmy Award winner Kurtis Ming is CBS13's consumer...
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A Manteca man paid for a newspaper subscription but never got all his papers delivered. When he got billed more and then sent to collections, it was time to call Kurtis.

When he tried to fix this, he says he was transferred to call center out of the country. He thinks that was part of the problem.

Strumming his guitar and working on crossword puzzles are two of Mark MacDonald’s favorite pastimes.

“My wife loves the sudokus and I love the crossword puzzles,” said Mark.

But a billing problem with Contra Costa Times has him puzzled.

“I don’t understand how a company can have such business practices and stay in business,” said Mark.

In April, Mark paid $12 for a 24 week subscription that was supposed to end in September.

But when he kept getting billed and his subscription ended three weeks early, he called customer service, located in Honduras.

“They assured me, ‘Oh, it’s a billing error on our side. We’ll fix that for you, don’t worry about it,'” said Mark.

After four months of being told it was fixed, Mark was sent to collections.

“That was the last straw,” said Mark.

“You have big companies making these decisions without consequence,” said Sen. Bob Casey, (D) Pennsylvania.

Sen. Casey wants to bring call center jobs back home. He’s spearheading the United States Call Center Worker and Consumer Protection Act of 2012 that would make companies that outsource call center jobs ineligible for federal grants or loans.

“We should hold U.S. companies to high standards overseas, because they’re American companies,” said Casey.

We contacted the Contra Costa Times and spoke with the vice president of circulation, David Rounds.

He says he’s not sure what happened in Mark’s case but is sorry it went on so long.

He says they spend a lot of money training their call center reps and thinks they’re doing a decent job.

With a million calls from customers a year, he says mistakes happen.

A few days after our call, Mark got an email saying his account had been cleared.

“We can finally order another newspaper, different newspaper I might say. Sorry Contra Costa Times,” said Mark.

Rounds says customers who have any problems can contact him directly. His email and number is printed in the paper.

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