The problem of ripoffs and poor service always seems to crop up wherever competition is lacking, and telecomms companies in the US certainly do not have enough competition. Ma Bell was an evil monopolist until their forced breakup in 1984, which it turned out, didn't help much. Today, telecomms in the US are still uncompetitive, price gouging, regulatory capturing, sluggish, backwards scum.
I don't know how old you are but Ma Bell was nowhere near as evil as today's AT&T and Verizon. Ma Bell was a regulated monopoly with many constraints on what it could do.
The Bell System was broken up in 1982 by a lawsuit brought by Northern Telecom because they wanted to sell the DMS-100 in the US. As a result of that court ruling, the Bell System was broken up into "baby bells". Since then, the new AT&T has absorbed them one by one.
So now we have a few big companies running the show with very few constraints on what they can do. Competition will not happen. Instead, they merge into bigger companies that are too big to fail. Essentially the same thing has happened in the electric power industry. And it gets sold to the public as free market competition.