Swift Justice: Phone company, schools and social media, and short sales

Dear Jackie,

I'm in a situation with a major phone service provider. Two years ago, they had me try a phone for free for one month. If I didn't like it, I could return it free of charge, they said. I didn't like it so I sent it back after one week. I called three weeks later to see if they received the phone, and they said yes and that I owed nothing. Two years later now, I get a statement from a creditor, saying I owe $488. They keep giving me the run around. I know I don't owe anything. I didn't even sign a contract. Please help. What do I do? -- Crystal from Portland, Conn.

Hi, Crystal,

If you did not sign a contract and you sent the phone back after one week, I don't understand why you are receiving a bill. Was there anything in writing? Did you get a receipt or anything to show that you sent it back? Call the phone company and have them pull up the history of your account. Get them to send you anything that shows you returned the phone and that there was to be no charge. Then send a copy to the people who are trying to collect money from you. Unfortunately, they could mess up your credit if you ignore them. Don't give up. Keep fighting them. You should not have to pay for anything that you did not use.

Dear Jackie,

I live and teach here in Connecticut, and my school district is requiring all teachers to sign an "Acceptable Use of Technology Agreement" in order to use district computers and access their work emails. It includes language that forbids us to "friend" parents and students on social networks such as Facebook, even when using our personal computers at home. While I completely understand the reasoning for the students, I cannot fathom how they are able to dictate whom I "friend" on my personal page. Apparently, I will not be able to maintain my classroom website as it is tied to our school email account and can be dismissed for not adhering to this policy, if caught. As a new teacher, I feel compelled to sign this but don't agree that they should be able to dictate what I do on my personal computer. Is this legal? -- Conflicted from Hartford, Conn.

Hi, Conflicted,

The world of social media can be problematic in the lives of students and teachers, and the issue is being dealt with across the country. Each school district has a different approach. If your district does not want you friending your students or parents on your personal page, then you can't do it. Here is a link to a New York Times article about this very thing: http://nyti.ms/Qho1wp. If you are represented by a union, you may want to work with them to see if these rules can be negotiated. Due to the dilemmas that many districts have encountered due to improper Internet communication, you may have a tough road ahead. Better to be safe than sorry.

Dear Jackie,

My husband and I put an offer on a house, and it's a short sale. We have been waiting eight months for bank approval. Come to find out, the major national bank sold the loan to another bank without approval. Is this legal? Do we have any other options other than waiting it out for the approval of the short sale? -- Kristal from Tallahassee, Fla.

Hi, Kristal,

Have you contacted the realtor who had the house listed? If not, you should. There is no fixed time for approval on short sales. My concern is that you may have to start the process over with the new lender. You need to contact the realtor or the new bank to see what your status is. Loans are sold all the time; it is legal. It might be time to find another house to buy.

(Jackie Glass is a lawyer and former district court judge from Las Vegas, Nev. Submit your legal questions to Jackie by emailing askjudgejackie@gmail.com. You can follow her on Twitter at @theJudgeGlass. This column is being provided for informational purposes only. It may not be relied upon by you as legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship.)

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