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PayTel - Page 3

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1.4 out of 5, based on 29 ratings and
63 reviews & complaints.
Company Profile
P.O. Box 19290
Greensboro, NC 27419
1-800-729-8355 (ph)
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Don't Know What to Do Next... No Help Being Given
By -

I have been on the phone for the last 3 hours trying to figure out how to proceed with this company. First of all I don't understand why I have to have a PayTel account. I receive collect calls from another incarcerated relative twice monthly through Global TelLink. The calls are billed directly to my AT&T bill, which is always paid on time. If I can receive calls from one facility, why not the other?

Second of all, I went onto the website to open an account. After entering my phone number I was told this number already has an account set up. I don't remember ever opening an account with Paytel. But I know if I HAD opened an account I would use one of three passwords. I tried all three passwords and none worked. So I clicked on "Forgot Password?" and was asked for my first pet's name (Security Question). I entered the answer and it was incorrect. So I know I did not set up this account. At this point I can only assume that the previous owner of this number opened an account.

So I tried to call the 800 number to tell them I am the new owner of the phone number. Guess what? I have to enter the PIN number in order to reach a CSR! I don't have the PIN number because I didn't open the account... because I only recently got this number. So I can't open an account because someone who used to have this number had an account and I don't know their PIN number. ARRRGGHHH. I just want to speak to my son and know that he is alright. I pay my bills on time. Why does it have to be so difficult? And why can't I just bill it to my AT&T bill like the other facility does.

The families of inmates are being subjected to more heartache than they are already experiencing. NOTE: My sister had a PayTel account. Prepaid $50, inmate was released over a year ago. She still has never received her refund. She finally just gave up.

Company Response 1/20/2011:

Dear Vivian F:

We sincerely apologize for any frustration you experienced with our company. After reviewing your phone number 912-427-XXXX, looks like a previous customer had this number prior to you and unfortunately we are not notified when a new customer receives the same number. We have cancelled the previous account and you are fine to receive the calls and they will be billed through your local carrier.

In regards to the PIN, you can assign the PIN of your choice at any time but no need unless you choose to prepay and deal directly with our company other than your local telephone company. But our system will not allow you to access an account without the correct PIN and because the previous customer had an account with a PIN, this created a problem for you.

We hope this will resolve your issues. If you have any other questions in the future or if we fail to meet your needs, you can email a manager at and your request will be addressed the same day as we handled your previous email that you sent to this address.

Best regards.

Worst Service Ever
By -

I have been making payments to receive phone calls with the same card for the past couple of weeks. Last week I made a payment and it was decline when money was in my account and the money was authorized by Paytel. My account was then blocked and I sent customer service an email. The logo for the me to pay with my card came up but each time I tried it stated they were no longer able to accept credit card payments from me. Why is that I don't know may it's because their site sucks! I contacted Customer Service the next day and was hung up on. I called back and stayed on hold for over 30 minutes waiting..

FINALLY a representative came to the phone I explain to her what happen, she tells me that there was no block on my account which was false and that as a COURTESY she would take my payment. I mean really you are doing me a favor UMM please. I have paid Paytel good money to receive phone calls and all of my debit card are in my name so what is the problem. After this I went on using the same credit card for each transaction. Now again tonight on December 23 I can not receive calls and my account is blocked. I have sent numerous emails regarding the issue and only got one response that the block is gone but it is not.

So I made a payment using Western Union and I have comfirmation from them that the money was received by PayTel. Has any money posted to my account UMMMM NOOOOOOO! Has anyone responded to me and said why it hasn't posted UMM NO! It is almost Christmas and I was looking forward to speaking with my husband and letting him talk to our son. Again we are WAITING on Paytel unprofessional, inconsistent, non functional customer service. I want to know where is my money that I paid to Western Union and why hasn't it posted to my account. Why after using the same card FOR DAYS on the SAME ACCOUNT that now it is not working?

The site takes forever to come up and it is the slowest ever.. I want my money on my account ASAP or it needs to be refunded ASAP and I want my account fixed.. I am tired of every other week this is happening. I have contacted your company to many times and I have given you too much of my money to be dealt with like this!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Company Response 12/29/2009:

Dear T. Smith:

We apologize for the frustration you have experienced with our company concerning your account with your credit card and the Western Union payment. We have determined your account number is 919-XXX-XXXX. However as you will see from the explanation that follows the problems you experienced were due to multiple credit card declines and your failure to enter your correct account number on the Western Union Quick Collect form.

Your account was blocked from making payments with a credit card due to multiple declines that you received when you attempted to make a payment using your credit card. We received an email from you on December 23rd asking us to reset the account and we did. Then we show you made two successful payments using your credit card on December 24th.

Apparently, when you made your Western Union payment using Quick Collect, you applied “1111” in front of your phone number. The “1111” is only added to the account number when you make a payment using Prepaid Services through Western Union. We negotiated a cheaper rate for our customers when using Western Union by sending a Prepaid Service payment with a fee of $5.95 versus the fee for Quick Collect of $9.95.

We received an email from you on December 24th questioning why the payment did not post. We investigated the Money Transfer Control Number you gave us and determined the funds were not applied to your account number. The account number was listed as “[snip]”.

Again we apologize for any inconvenience this has caused you. Our employees work very hard to resolve any problems and communicate with our customers during this time.

In the future, if we fail to meet your needs, you can email a manager at and your request will be addressed the same day.

Best regards,
Customer Relations

What Customer Service?
By -

I have been trying to receive phone calls from my fiance in jail for over a week. I don't have a home phone so I opened up a Paytel account so he could call me on my cell phone. So when I opened the account the recording said that they update their system every two hours. When I still hadn't heard from him the next day I wondered what was going on. I called Paytel to speak with a customer service representative and their recording said if I was calling to find out why my number was blocked I should use their automated system to find out. Their automated system just told me that I indeed had an account and that I had a balance of $25.00.

I then held for a customer service representative. It took 45 minutes for me to actually get through to a representative. When I did she told me that she had to manually remove the block. I figured everything would work but I was wrong. So the next day I still was unable to receive calls from my fiance so I called Paytel again. I called several times throughout the day from my cell phone and waited over an hour each time. Unfortunately I work so I cannot stay on the phone for hours at a time without getting in trouble. When I got home from work I called from my dad's home phone. I had already burned up my entire prepaid phone card calling them all day.

I stayed on hold for over two hours before I reached a customer service representative. She then informed me that she could not tell me why my phone was not working with their system that it was a technical support problem and tech support was not in after 5pm. So I spent my entire day on hold for nothing. I asked her if it was possible for tech support to call me in the morning since it takes so long to get through. She said no. I mean I have kids to get to school and a job to go to. I don't have time to stay on hold for two or more hours in the morning.

I then asked her if I could just transfer the balance I had to my dad's phone and she refused this as well. She told me if tech support could not fix the problem only then they would transfer the money to another phone number. They are getting my money either way. Why make me go through all of this to be able to talk with my fiance. I still haven't been able to talk to him to let him know that I am OK and that his kids are OK. Paytel has put a block on everybody's phone and is making it so I cannot talk to him. It is ridiculous.

Company Response 10/7/2009:

Sorry for any problems you have experienced with our company.
Our phone lines have been extremely busy during our conversion, the CSR's are available and assisting as many customers as possible.
We are very sorry for the problems this has created for you.
If you will provide us with your phone number and PIN, we will research your account and get back with you. You can email your information to a manager at and your request will be addressed the same day.
Please accept our apologies for this problem.
Best regards.
Customer Relations

PayTel Preys on People Who Need This Service
By -

I have not been able to speak to a human being at Paytel to discuss my customer service issue. Paytel does not want to talk to customers about their very poor service, so they throw a recorded message on in place of a human being. Unfortunately, however, the automated system never gives an option to speak to a person, it just says that they are sorry but balance info is not available right now and to call back later. This has been going on for a week even though I have paid for the service on TWO numbers and neither number has been unblocked. I even sent an email to customer service AND the (so-called) customer relations manager - to no avail.

No one will respond to me. They have stolen my money without providing the service. This is the very first time I have had to use this service and I am thoroughly disgusted. Maybe if there are enough people out there who are as disgusted as I am, we can get a class action lawsuit started. We the consumers should not allow companies to take advantage of us and steal from us like this. I resent being treated like a common criminal because I have a loved one incarcerated who I want to keep in touch with. I am a law abiding citizen, I pay my taxes and I have never ever been in trouble with the law.

In fact, if anyone is the criminal in this situation it is Paytel because they have advertised a service, I paid for the service, yet they refuse to provide the service. Sounds like fraud, false advertising, theft and probably numerous other torts. Paytel has 24 hours to respond to me before I take this situation to a regulating authority. Unfortunately it seems that Paytel has a monopoly on inmate calls and it would be very beneficial to consumers if they had some competition.

Company Response 8/26/2009:

We sincerely apologize for the problems you are experiencing with our company in receiving collect calls and accessing your account through our Automated Phone system and also our website. We are converting all of our internal accounting software to a new system this week and the conversion has not yet been completed.

Regrettably this has prevented the timely posting of payments, allowing access to your account and also in some cases preventing you from receiving the collect calls. We are now posting payments throughout the day and unblocking numbers when the payments post. Unfortunately, this is much slower than our usual process.

We are very sorry for the problems this has created for you. We have a team of people working on this issue and hope to have this resolved by the end of the week.

If you will send us your phone number(s), we will be glad to research them and get back with you tomorrow. You can send your information to and your request will be addressed the same day.

Thank you.
Customer Relations

Usury And Greed. The Evil Of Making Our Jails "For Profit"
By -

175 NC 801 HWY WOODLEAF, NC 27054 -- I have been placed in the unfortunate situation of having a young daughter placed in jail for a misdemeanor in which she could have avoided jail time had she had the requisite funds. Then, I find out from the local jailers that the only way for her to call me is a prepaid account through PayTel. I offered them a toll free number to "unblock" but they would not accept that. I had to pay them $25.00 in which my daughter was allowed ONLY four calls.

In these days of telephony, I can speak to friends on the other side of the world in Melbourne Australia for an hour for only pennies. Something is terribly wrong here. There are people in custody being forced to pay exorbitant prices to communicate with attorneys and loved ones. From the thread on this company, I have learned that PayTel kicks back 30% of their profit to the jails/prisons that use them. That sounds like a bribe to me. Companies like this should be brought before a Senate Subcommittee and investigated and then charged under the new usury laws that are hopefully around the corner.

There's a special place in h*ll for people who take advantage of the poor and destitute like this company does, and if you are reading this from PayTel, there's a place for you as well. Shame on you, PayTel and I can't wait until lawmakers take a look at what you are doing and who you are paying off to allow such a scam as you have perpetrated. Please use Stumble, Digg-it or any other social networking site to try to make more people aware of this. Feel free to copy and post this on any blogs.

RESPONSE TO PAYTEL RESPONSE: I just received an itemized statement in which there were 20 minutes of "billed" conversations in two calls in which the total charges were $19.29. This was AFTER the "discount" you are so fond of mentioning. That's essentially $1.00 a minute for calls from GA to a neighboring state. That's essentially highway robbery. I would complain to the NC Senator, but I just found out that PayTel CEO Vincent Townsend dropped $2000.00 in (R) NC Senator Burr's coffers last year... So, I really don't know how far that would go (this is public record, you can Google it for confirmation).

If other consumers have information or stories "not fit to print" on a site such as this, please drop me a line here as I will be monitoring this page and intend to set up a site with all the dirt I can find on these people.

Company Response 3/10/2009:

We regret your frustration concerning the rates for your collect calls. If you will provide your phone number with area code, we will be happy to check your account to make sure you are being charged the correct rate. With your prepaid account you do receive a discount on every call.

We are a certificated carrier in every state where we provide service and the rates we charge are regulated in most states. In all states we charge rates that are equal or below the rates charged for the same call through the local telephone company. The cost of calls from confinement facilities are more expensive because of the increased controls required by law enforcement.

We regret your frustration and will be happy to assist you directly if you will send an e-mail to

Rude Customer Service
By -

MONROE, GEORGIA -- I had to call Pay Tel because a family member was in county jail. First they told me I had to pay them, that they would not unblock my number so that I could get collect calls from the phone that was at the jail. The customer service representative told me they own the phones and my phone company didn't provide enough billing information and then hung up on me.

I called back and tried to get it resolved with another customer service representative who was rude again, I the asked to speak with a floor manager. (I own a telemarketing company. it is FCC regulations to have a floor manager at all times) I got a voicemail. I left a message with no return call. So I called my phone provider and they had never heard of that.

They contacted Pay Tel and I was able to receive calls. A few days later my family member was out and I was receiving calls from the jail. I called to have my phone reblocked. They told me it was blocked. I said it was not and I needed it blocked again. The rude customer service representative told me it was taken care of. I, at that time, told her it better or I would call back and it would not be pretty. She told me that I could not threaten her. It is my dime and I can do whatever I want. Well anyway, it was not blocked, got more calls. I called back and told them they need to block the calls or I would sue them.

I hung up and the customer service representative called back and treated me. These people have no customer service training and are rude and don't wish to help anyone. The problem with companies like this is they prey on people that know no better. They cannot force you to pay them to get calls on your home phone, you pay your phone company not Pay Tel. They only own the phones in the county jails.

What a racket these people are. As a business owner, if one of my employees ever called a customer back and was rude or a manager did not return a call on a complaint, they would be looking for a job in a quick second. Pay Tel is providing a service from a public place. They should remember providing a service and as a service provider, your customers service should be first on the training list and it is not.

Company Response 11/20/2008:

We apologize for the frustration you have experienced with our company concerning your calls and our Customer Service Representatives.

Kelly, we have established procedures at Pay Tel when a customer contacts a CSR in regards to receiving collect calls. We check the LIDB National Validation Data Base for your bill name and address information. The challenge today is that local telephone companies are doing a poor and poorer job in making sure the National Data base is updated properly and timely.

We attempted to validate your number on 11/13, the information provided by your local telephone company to the LIDB Data Base did not include any account owner information – name on account, address, etc. We do not bill calls to numbers that do not have any account information.

Our company is no different than any other in that we provide a service and we have the right to establish our own credit policies. All of our policies are in our tariffs and approved by the Georgia Public Service Commission. The CSR explained to you that to receive collect calls you would need to set up an account and prepay Pay Tel for these calls.

Then you contacted us again on 11/14 when you spoke with the CSR, her response was the same; you would need to set up an account and prepay to receive the collect calls. However, our records show that when the inmate attempted to contact you at 3:08 pm on 11/14, the call was successful. You mentioned in your complaint contacting your local telephone company. It appears your telephone company must have sent updated account information to the LIDB Data Base. The validation reply that we received on this call provided account information and we were able to bill this call through your local telephone company. After receiving this good validation, you were able to accept an additional 14 calls through November 17th.

The next call from you on 11/18 was a request to block your number and the CSR you spoke with blocked your number and you have not received any calls since November 17th.

We apologize for any rude or poor service you may have received. We are currently investigating your concerns and will address the issues raised with the CSR's involved. Please send your email address to and you will receive a response to these concerns from our President.

In the future, if we fail to meet your needs, you can email a manager at and your request will be addressed the same day.

Thank you.

Customer Relations

Rip Off
StarEmpty StarEmpty StarEmpty StarEmpty StarBy -
Rating: 1/51

CUMMING, GEORGIA -- I recently had a friend add $28 onto my Paytel account. My account is saying no payment was billed and now I lost money. She paid with a credit debit card and it also billed her bank account. It is showing $00.00 and shows no payment. I would like for the $28 dollars to be refunded to the account. I also had PayTel charge me twice for a phone call a couple weeks back on my first PayTel account. I am very unhappy because I cannot receive call from my inmate. Please reply ASAP because nobody has helped me yet about this. Thank you.

Company Response 10/07/2014:

Dear Ms. Turner:

After investigating your complaint we determined that your account number is 678-856-XXXX.

We apologize for any problems that you may have had with Pay Tel concerning your payment not being applied to your account. After researching your issue, this transaction was declined because the address provided did not match the address on file with the credit card company, so the payment was not added to your Pay Tel account.

You mentioned in your complaint that "nobody has helped me". We received an email to on October 5th at 5:05 pm and responded back the same day at 6:53 pm explaining the problem. We received another email on October 5th also to at 5:52 pm and responded back again the same day at 7:54 pm. Then you sent another email to the President of Pay Tel, same day at 5:56 pm and he responded back to you on Monday at 12:39 pm; all of which explained the same issue with your payment.

You also stated in your complaint "charge me twice for a phone call a couple weeks back". We will need the phone number for the "first Pay Tel account" you mentioned to investigate this issue. You can respond to with the other phone number.

I hope this will help to clarify any issues you have with the transaction. If we can be of further assistance, please let us know.

Best regards,
Customer Relations

The Paytel Scam Continues
By -

Why is it that EVERY TIME I try to check the balance on my Paytel account, the balance is "temporarily unavailable"? How do I know that they are not ripping me off?? The one and only time I was able to see my balance was when I opened the account and added the initial money. I have not been able to view my balance since, although I have accepted several phone calls. This is a part of their scam - they do not let customers know what the balance is so that they can continue to make you pay money for calls you are not getting.

This company really needs to be put out of business. Hopefully if there are enough complaints to the PUC or whoever governs these people, there will be tighter regulations on them and they will go out of business or bankrupt or something. These people are thieves! I'm am very much looking forward to the b.s. generic, form letter, blah blah blah answer they are going to respond with this time.

Company Response 9/1/2009:

Again, we apologize for the problems you have encountered with our company concerning your account balance. We are still converting all of our internal accounting software to a new system this week. However, the conversion has not been completed and has not gone as well as we expected.

Our website and our Automated Phone System is providing information for your accounts now.

Our phone lines have been extremely busy during this conversion, the CSR's are available and assisting as many customers as possible. We are very sorry for the problems this has created for you.

If you will provide us with your phone number and PIN, we will research your account and get back with you. You can email your information to a manager at and your request will be addressed the same day.

Please accept our apologies for this error.

Best regards.
Customer Relations

Paytel Charging for Calls When You Can Not Hear Inmates
StarEmpty StarEmpty StarEmpty StarEmpty StarBy -
Rating: 1/51

WILSON, NORTH CAROLINA -- When my friend call from jail at times I can't hear him or he can't hear me. We have to hang up and try the call again, each time Paytel will charge for the call. I have spoken with them about this and never get a refund. Each time he calls we talk the full time if there was not a problem with Paytel service. Why would there be calls for less than a minute just to turn around and have another call back to back until we can hear each other. I feel this is a scam. There is no other carriers so you have to pay or not be able to talk to your love one.

Company Response 04/17/2015:

We apologize for any frustration you experienced with our company concerning dropped calls. If you will email your name, address, phone number, and PIN to, we will investigate this issue to determine why the calls were dropped.

The following information is in our brochure and posted on our website concerning dropped calls. Calls may be disconnected if any of the following activities occur during a call:

• Stop talking without hanging up.
• Attempts to make a 3-way call.
• Attempt to answer Call Waiting.
• Attempt to put a call on hold.
• Attempt to transfer a call.
• Use of a cordless phone (static).
• Use of a wireless phone (dropped cell tower or static).

PAY-TEL does not accept responsibility for dropped wireless phone calls.

In the future, if we fail to meet your needs, you can email a manager at and your request will be addressed the same day.

Best regards,

Customer Service

No Business Should Be Allowed to Operate Like Paytel Does!
StarEmpty StarEmpty StarEmpty StarEmpty StarBy -
Rating: 1/51

CORDELE, GEORGIA -- I just want to say it is very sad that a company that makes as much money as Paytel does won't even provide fair service to their customers. Service that we pay for in full and sometime we don't even get half of what we pay for. Almost every time I have had dropped calls, Paytel always says it's my cell phone that is dropping the calls yet I never have any problems with my calls being dropped unless I'm using Paytel. Also Paytel only considers giving you credit if it was due to their equipment being faulty which is ridiculous. Any company should at least review whatever your problem may be and resolve it if you have paid for that service and didn't get what you paid for.

For example, I paid for a 15 minute call and while I was talking I put the phone on speakerphone so I could comfort my newborn baby. Well I went to pick my phone back up and accidentally hit the end button after only 2 minutes of talking and Paytel won't even attempt to give me credit for that call just because it was my fault and because I accidentally hit end.

It's things like this that makes this company so awful. A company so rich yet so evil. If Paytel would change the way they handle their customers problems it would be a great company, but as I've seen all they want is every penny they can squeeze out of a person! Pure disgrace.

Company Response 03/23/2015:

We apologize for any frustration you experienced with our company concerning dropped calls. If you will email your name, address, phone number, and PIN to, we will investigate this issue to determine why the calls was dropped.

In the future, if we fail to meet your needs, you can email a manager at and your request will be addressed the same day.

Best regards,

Customer Relations

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