Washoe County phone users mistakenly charged


Some Washoe County residents saw a mistaken increase on their phone bills this month. Others didn't notice and paid it anyway.

Larry Calhoun saw it right away.

"I just track our bills pretty close. And when I noticed a $6.75 increase, because we have three cell phones. Then I thought what, what changed?"

In 2017 Nevada lawmakers passed a bill that allows local governments to collect a surcharge of up to one dollar per line on a phone bill. The Washoe County Board of Commissioners adopted a resolution to increase a 911 surcharge from 25 cents to 85 cents per line and $2.50 to $8.50 per truik line. That increase would pay for body cameras worn by law enforcement officers.

But this month AT&T customers were overcharged for that 911 surcharge. Calhoun said he was charged $2.50 for each of his three cell phones instead of 85 cents.

"I love our first responders and police and I'm glad they're getting that but not at a 1000% increase," Calhoun said.

It's only a few bucks but it adds up when you account for thousands of AT&T users in Washoe County.

In an email AT&T confirmed its customers were overcharged. Spokesman Steven Ramirez said:

We are aware that some customers in Washoe County were incorrectly charged the wrong 911 fee for about two weeks. The issue was corrected last week and we are in the process of crediting these customers back.

But Ramirez would not tell News 4 how the overcharge happened or if every one of its customers were overcharged. Washoe County was told at least half its customers were overcharged which translates into several thousand customers.

"I just don't think it's right. You've got to watch those things. Whether it was intentional or not intentional, it could end up being an abuse," Calhoun said.

AT&T told Calhoun that Washoe County made the mistake. But Kate Thomas, the Assistant County Manager in Washoe County said AT&T is responsible for the error.

"We understand it was customers that were billed between May 1 and May 15 that experienced the charge," said Thomas. "We won't see any more of those charges we are informed going forward."

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