Myles M. Mattenson
ATTORNEY AT LAW
5550 Topanga Canyon Blvd.
Suite 200
Woodland Hills, California 91367
Telephone (818) 313-9060
Facsimile (818) 313-9260
Email: MMM@MattensonLaw.com
Web: http://www.MattensonLaw.com
Long Distance Telephone Companies
Are Trolling The Waters For You!

      Myles M. Mattenson engages in a general civil and trial practice including litigation and transactional services relating to the coin laundry and dry cleaning industries, franchising, business, purchase and sale of real estate, easements, landlord-tenant, partnership, corporate, insurance bad faith, personal injury, and probate legal matters.

      In providing services to the coin laundry and dry cleaning industries, Mr. Mattenson has represented equipment distributors, coin laundry and dry cleaning business owners confronted with landlord-tenant issues, lease negotiations, sale documentation including agreements, escrow instructions, and security instruments, as well as fraud or misrepresentation controversies between buyers and sellers of such businesses.

      Mr. Mattenson serves as an Arbitrator for the Los Angeles County Superior Court. He is also past chair of the Law Office Management Section of the Los Angeles County Bar Association. Mr. Mattenson received his Bachelor of Science degree (Accounting) in 1964 and his Juris Doctorate degree from Loyola University School of Law in 1967.

      Bi-monthly articles by Mr. Mattenson on legal matters of interest to the business community appear in alternate months in The Journal, a leading coin laundry industry publication of the Coin Laundry Association, and Fabricare, a leading dry cleaning industry publication of the International Fabricare Institute. During the period of May 1995 through September 2002, Mr. Mattenson contributed similar articles to New Era Magazine, a coin laundry and dry cleaning industry publication which ceased publication with the September 2002 issue.

      This website contains copies of Mr. Mattenson's New Era Magazine articles which can be retrieved through a subject or chronological index. The website also contains copies of Mr. Mattenson's Journal and Fabricare articles, which can be retrieved through a chronological index.

      In addition to Mr. Mattenson's trial practice, he has successfully prosecuted and defended appeals on behalf of his clients in various areas of the law. Some of these appellate decisions are contained within his website.


Long Distance Telephone Companies
Are Trolling The Waters For You!

     Last July, I had the good fortune to be with friends in Cabo
San  Lucas  on  a fishing trip.  I also had the good  fortune  to
catch  a  tuna  substantially larger  than  those  caught  by  my
friends.   What I did not realize at the time, however, was  that
while I was busy catching fish, I was being reeled in by a little-
known  long  distance telephone service.  While I  was  using  50
pound  test  line, a long distance telephone provider  was  using
copper wire!

     Upon my return to Los Angeles, my August telephone statement
reflected $155.10 in charges for five telephone calls from Mexico
to the Los Angeles area.  At these prices, I could have purchased
a first-class ticket back to Los Angeles for my prize catch, a 75-
pound tuna!

      The  statement  identifies the first call  as  having  been
placed on July 19th, at 8:47 P.M., notes the duration of the call
to  be  three  minutes,  and reflects a charge  of  $24.30.   Two
minutes  later, at 8:49 P.M., according to my statement, I  place
my  second telephone call.  I am again charged $24.30 for a  call
of  three minutes duration.  I recall the first call lasted  less
than  30 seconds, since no one was home.  The second call  lasted
perhaps  20 seconds.  I attempted to reach my office voice  mail,
but  could  not activate the access code since the  telephone  in
Mexico did not make the usual tones when pushing the buttons.

       So   I   wondered   what  one  of   the   Big   Three   of
telecommunications, AT&T, MCI and Sprint would  have  charged  me
for all five telephone calls.  AT&T advised me, for example, that
their bill for the calls would have been $59.61!

      Have  you  examined your telephone statement lately?   Your
statement  from  Pacific Bell or General Telephone  will  include
statements from other telephone providers or billing agents.   My
statement  from Pacific Bell included a statement from Zero  Plus
Dialing,  Inc.  (Zero Plus).  The statement  indicated  that  the
charges of $155.10 were "Billed on Behalf of ATI".  What is  ATI?
I  thought  I asked for AT&T!  ATI refers to American  Telesource
International,  Inc.  dba ATI Communications.   I  obtained  this
information from discussions with ATI's billing agent, Zero Plus.

      My Zero Plus statement exclaims "Questions about your bill?
888-507-0734."  After about a half-dozen unsuccessful attempts to
reach  Zero Plus, and only reaching a busy signal, I sought  help
from  the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) (213) 897-2973.   The
PUC  provided me with another number, (800) 456-7587,  apparently
known only to the PUC.  I checked with Information and discovered
the  800 number is unlisted.  With this new information, I  reach
the folks at Zero Plus.

      A  representative advises me that there will  be  a  30-day
investigation and a response provided thereafter.  I  am  advised
that  ATI imposes a three-minute minimum on international  calls,
regardless  of the time spent on the call.  At least now  I  know
why  I am charged for a three-minute call commencing at 8:47 P.M.
and  another  three-minute  call commencing  at  8:49  P.M.   The
representative refuses to provide me with the street  address  of
Zero  Plus.   I  am provided only with the post  office  box.   I
inquire  as  to whether the representative reports to  work  each
morning  to  a post office box.  The representative,  in  an  icy
voice, repeats the post office box address.

      After  I fail to receive a response within two months  from
Zero Plus, I direct a letter to Zero Plus to their street address
in  San Antonio, Texas.  How did I acquire the street address  of
Zero Plus, you ask?  United States Postal regulations permits  an
attorney to obtain the street address of a post office box holder
when the information is sought in contemplation of litigation and
service of process.

      Shortly after my letter hits the front door of Zero Plus, I
receive  attention.   Or  perhaps  it  was  because  the  company
received  a  copy  of  my letter proposing to  file  a  complaint
against  Zero  Plus and ATI which I directed to  the  Enforcement
Division,   Common   Carrier   Bureau,   Federal   Communications
Commission, 2025 "M" Street, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20554.   Zero
Plus, as the billing agent, essentially refers me to the carrier,
ATI.

      After  an  exchange  of  about  eight  letters  and  twelve
telephone  calls, (mercifully, all were 800 numbers),  I  finally
negotiate  a  reduction  of the bill with  ATI  from  $155.10  to
$53.25, $6.36 less than the charges which would have been imposed
by AT&T!  At last, victory!

      Want to avoid all these problems?  Make sure you place your
long distance calls through your preferred telephone company.  To
place a credit card call through AT&T, access AT&T by dialing  1-
800-CALL-ATT.  Access MCI by dialing 1-800-888-8000.  For Sprint,
dial 1-800-877-8000.  The moral of the story?  Some long distance
telephone providers, eager to impose charges substantially higher
than  the  Big  Three, are trolling the waters  for  unsuspecting
customers.  Stay clear of their nets!


[This column is intended to provide general information only  and
is  not intended to provide specific legal advice; if you have  a
specific  question  regarding the  law,  you  should  contact  an
attorney  of your choice.  Suggestions for topics to be discussed
in this column are welcome.]


Reprinted from New Era Magazine
Myles M. Mattenson  1997-2002