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Problems with PRIMUS ISTERRA long distance phone service
18 comments. Current rating: (5 votes). Leave comments and/ or rate it.
This is a report by a -now- unhappy customer with Primus Isterra. Formerly I used to be a happy customer of Primus Isterra Long Distance Phone Service.
In 2002 or 2003, I chose Primus Isterra as my residential long distance phone service provider because of their good rates, I liked both their international calling plans(I frequently call from the United States to Germany), and their domestic rates to other states (I live in California and frequently make calls to Nevada).
I gave them my credit card information, and they billed me every month - usually around $15 each time.
Everything was fine. In 2005 I discovered that I could buy calling cards in Chinese stores that would offer calls to Germany for 2 or 2.4 cents per minute while Primus Isterra charged 6.5 cents per minute.
I started using the calling card for some calls, but kept Primus Isterra.
In October 2005 they sent out an email (!) that if your bill would be less than $10 in any month, they would add a $5 basic service fee in that month.
A friend of mine closed her account with Primus Isterra on the day she received this email. She did not make many phone calls and her bill was usually around $7 a month.
3 days later she got her scheduled monthly bill, and sure enough, it had already the $5 penalty because she was under $10. She tried to fight Primus Isterra for a long time until they gave up her $5. (Unlike me, she had not set up for automatic billing to her credit card.)
Good job, Primus Isterra!
In December I also closed my account because I had found a 10-10 prefix that would offer me 2.9 cents per minute for calls to Germany. By the way, so far I am quite satisfied with this 10-10-565 service; they announce the rate per minute at the beginning of every call.
I received my last bill from Primus Isterra some time at the end of December or early January, they billed my credit card and everything was fine.
I no longer have long distace service any more. I can easily verify that by calling a non-local number from my home phone.
On April 3rd 2006, Primus Isterra suddenly sent me an email that I should log in to their web site and view my bill.
The email looked like this:
Your current Primus statement is now available online at http://www.ia.primustel.com
If you require assistance, please contact us at the Customer Service number listed on the first page of your invoice or email us at email@example.com.
Thank you for using Primus' Online Account Services.
I wrote them that my account had been closed and they actually answered my email the same day:
[200643-960756] RE: Re: Primus Invoice Notification
I closed my account several months ago and am surprised to get such an email. Please confirm that my account is closed.
Thank you for taking time out and writing to Primus. We appreciate you informing us about your concern.
Peter, As per your message, I have checked the account number 81675441 and your account is cancelled as of December 12 2005 but I check that calls are still going through our network so I have forwarded the issue to the concerned department so that you will not receive invoice from Primus in future also I have given you credit for $49.20.
For any further assistance, please feel free to write back to us.
Peter, please assist us by giving your valuable feedback in filling out the customer satisfaction survey form. This enhances our capabilities in knowing the areas of opportunities that can be worked upon.
It was a great pleasure assisting you.
Customer Service Representative,
Primus Customer Service Team.
Internal Reference 
AFTER THEY SENT ME THIS EMAIL, they charged my Discover Credit Card $49.20
The question is, why do they keep my credit card info on file after I close my account?
I waited a few days and emailed again, when will they refund me the $49.20?
Answer: we will credit you the $49.20 to your credit card in the next pay cycle, that will be in 4 to 8 weeks depending on [blah blah]
I thought that was not ok, called Discover and disputed this issue. Discover issued a temporary credit, and on 4/14/2006 Primus Isterra credited me the $49.20
Today is 5/5/2006, and guess what is in my email?
Right, another invitation to visit http://www.ia.primustel.com and view my bill online.
The best feature: I do not need to send money because they conveniently bill my credit card automatically!
I can understand that a company makes a mistake in billing once here or there, but this is too much.
If you still want to have long distance service from Primus Isterra, I recommend not to permit them to bill your credit card automatically. It might turn into a hassle should you ever decide to leave them.
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[hidden] from Brookfield, United States
To whom it may concern at Primus:
If you received this email and are powerless to consider what I am about to say, please forward this message on to a higher authority, because the information contained herein is of prime importance to many people. I must still consider if it is going to cost you my business, as I am very upset with the information that I just received.
My problem revolves around Pimustel's upper management's neglect of how it treats its customers. I had service on two of my 8 or 9 lines terminated due to 'non-payment' on a bill that was due on July 15, 2006 and the same scenario occurred the following month, with the same pattern. Make NO MISTAKE, we pay our bills when they are due and in most cases before they are due, as we did with you. We paid you on-line with a credit card and we come to find out that 'yes', your records reflected that we had paid before the due date, but the payments that you had received had not yet been posted. I was kindly advised by your representative that the way to avoid this situation was to send our payment in five to seven days days before it is due; thus, avoiding termination of service.
Discontinuing someone's long distance under circumstances such as this is an outrageous policy! Are you aware of the heat that has been generated by some banks that had a habit of posting payments that were in their possesion, but not posted until after the due date in order to accumulate late charges? What you have done with my payment is tantamount to the same thing, with the exception that in place of late fees as a penalty, you have penalized me/my business by denying my customers the access that they would normally have to me, which very obviously cost me money.
I trust that whoever this email is ultimately delivered to is intelligent enough to read between the lines of where this kind of shenanigan, whether purposeful or by neglect, can take you legally. I would suggest, for your own legal safety and benefit, that you implement a grace period that meets or exceeds the processing time that your representative claims you have from receipt to posting.
'NOT POSTED?' I was sincerely taken aback, as I wondered how a company the size of Primustel could fail to have its payments posted, when a little 'pip squeak' of a company the size of ours is capable of being managed out of a spare bedroom and has its payments automatically posted and in the bank as of midnight that same day.
Surly something is amiss; this the 21st century, is it not? You have to come into the 21st century or get left behind as so many other companies have or will find that they have. When you have been bypassed, it is generally impossible to get up to speed in time to save yourself. Ask G.M. or Chrysler; they were behind the curve and in spite of the fact that G.M. has the best offerings, world wide in its line up, the perception of its past days have been thus far, impossible to shake off.
I called Wednesday and Thursday, and was apologized to; however, Friday my lines were still disconnected (as of this writing they were finally restored). All in all, I have after many years, suddenly become very dissatisfied with Primustel, and that is a shame because I was very high on Primustel and recommended you as a good provider. If I do not change carriers, I will not be able to mention you in a positive light as I have done so many times over the course of what I now discover to have been a one-way relationship.
You must ask yourselves the following, it was a 'Pip Squeak' billing; however, you must also ask yourselves how much will it cost to gain another income flow such as this 'Pip Squeak' was producing for you. The answer is, if I leave, you will never spend enough to regain that which is lost. The best that you can do is to find an extra client, but that in and of itself is not a gain. A gain would have been to take care of your customer and keep him (in this case, me) and still added the new client. That is where you measure growth from.
David F. Roesch
Acct # 81263014
anonymous from Austria
Your articles are for when it abetluosly, positively, needs to be understood overnight.
anonymous from United States
I am having terrible experience with Primus for the last 6 months and customer service are not doing a good job to resolve the problem. I am very disgusted with their customer service and a their upper management who don't care about their loyal customers
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