The Howard County Office of Consumer Affairs is investigating Verizon's sales practices after the office received a half-dozen complaints, county officials said.

Officials allege that the company's sales representatives have attempted to confuse customers and overcharge them for services they did not ask for when selling packages for cable, phone and Internet service.

Sharyn Tolkach, a teacher from Columbia, said she saw an item on her bill called "cyber tube" for five months before she could get Verizon representatives to remove the $14.95 charge from her monthly statement. She said she never agreed to that or charges twice a month to remove viruses from her computer — or a $139 baseball TV package.

When she confronted the company, she said, she was told the charges would be removed, but when her bill came she again had to spend hours on the phone and writing letters before getting reimbursed. Not all of her disputed charges have been resolved, she said.

In an email response, Sandy Arnette, a spokeswoman with Verizon, said the company would cooperate with the county to address any concerns.

"Our reps are trained to provide pricing information and summarize the customer's order at the end of the call," she said. "We also work with customers to explain their bills when they have questions and, if a problem arises, we will resolve it with the customer."

County officials advise customers to keep detailed notes of sales packages and of quotes given, and compare their notes to any confirmation emails from the company. If there is a discrepancy, the county says, consumers should contact the company as soon as possible.

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