The Most Common Phone-Billing Mistakes

With more people dropping their land-line phones for cell phones or for service "bundles," more mistakes are showing up on their bills.

The most common billing mistakes, according to Marjory Abrams, publisher of Boardroom, Inc., in Stamford, CT, are:

* CHARGES FROM THE PREVIOUS LONG-DISTANCE PROVIDER. Sometimes, it's hard for your old company to say good-bye... and it keeps billing you!  Abrams knows one woman who had $43 in charges from her old provider the first month she made the switch.

* SWITCHING FEES. They're typically $20, but get this...the company will usually drop them if you ask.

* INTERNATIONAL CALL OPTION. A $2 charge that slips in from time to time. Ask 'em to drop it or credit your account, particularly if you have no plan to make any international calls!

* DOUBLE-DIP FEDERAL EXCISE TAX. Your new provider may mistakenly hit you twice with this tax. Dispute the second charge.