Carolinaboy71's profile

Mentor

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25 Messages

Sun, Apr 22, 2018 2:12 PM

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AT&T Not Responsible For Unethical Sales Practices?

There are numerous new customers who were convinced to switch to AT&T from their respective cell phone providers.  One thing most seem to have in common, they trusted the sales representative to be honest in his, or her, presentation of the "offer".  In my case, the "offer" was presented by an AT&T representative named Germain.  The "offer" was discussed with me on 26 February 2018 included the following:

Free Hotspot (Mobile)

HBO Free For Life

$15 off DirecTv

BOGO (1 Free I-Phone 8 Plus 64 GB)

Buyout 3 Lines

I was currently paying on two I-Phone 6S Plus with Verizon.  I had been a Verizon customer for years and was completely satisfied.  I was already a DirecTv customer and the HBO for life plus $15 off my DirecTv bill added to the intrigue of the "offer".  Additionally, $650 credit per line for switching also caught my attention.  Admittedly, I did not take the time to read the back of the DirecTv document that Germain gave me.  I was definitely guilty of trusting the information being presented by Germain.  Before making a final decision, I needed a couple of questions answered:

 

     1.  I planned on keeping my two cell phones that I was currently making payments on.  Would that cause a problem with the $650 credit per line?  

          Answer:  Nope, no problem

     2.  Is there anything I have to do regarding changing over from Verizon to AT&T?

          Answer:  You don't have to do anything.  AT&T will make the arrangements with Verizon to payoff your two phones.

 

There's an old saying "if it sounds too good to be true, then it isn't".  I should have heeded that old saying.  And then there's old rule of thumb that sales representatives can't be trusted.  Three strikes and you're out.  I had one more to go.  In order to seal the "offer", I had to pay $192.00 plus sign the AT&T offer document, and then sit back and enjoy your new phones.  I was already aware of the AT&T poor phone coverage issue but was willing to live with that problem.

 

My first indication of a problem was when I received my Verizon cell phone bill.  On page three was a one time charge of $337.32 identified as "device payment buyout charge" for both phones.  Wait a minute, the sales representative told me AT&T was going to take care of that for me.  I contacted AT&T and was told to send them the Verizon bill.  I was then notified they could not approve that portion of the AT&T Switcher Program because "Your submission did not include a bill from your previous carrier showing an Early Termination Fee (ETF) or Equipment Installment Plan (EIP)".  Next, I was told that the Verizon bill did not identify which cell phone numbers were involved but did reference an agreement number.  So, I sent them a copy of each agreement which did identify the cell phones numbers.  Again, my request was not approved for the same reason as before.

 

I contacted AT&T customer service using the chat feature.  I explained my problem.  The AT&T customer representative pulled up my information and verified I had submitted the required documentation, but they had not received the two cell phones yet.  Huh?  Yep, in order to qualify of the $650 credit per line, you have to send them your cell phones.  When I told him that's not what their sales representative told me, I was asked if I had read the information on how the switch to AT&T works.  Nope, I was relying upon the information provided by the sales representative.  Then came the apology, but unless I sent in my two phones, I didn't qualify for the $650 credit.  So, I sent Verizon a check for the two phones, and chalked this one up to my dumb butt trusting a sales representative.

 

The next indication of a problem was when I got my AT&T bill and noticed I was being charged for all three I-Phone 8 Plus's.  Where was my BOGO?  I haven't addressed this problem with AT&T yet because I've already read other customers complaints about not getting the BOGO that was included in their "offer".  The reasons AT&T gave for not agreeing to the BOGO ranged from the "offer" not being from an authorized dealer to poor training.  Final answer to the other customers seemed to be, you aren't getting your BOGO.  However, I still plan on addressing this issue with AT&T.

 

As of this date (22 April 2018), I have also not received the $15 off my DirecTv bill.  AT&T did tell me to allow several weeks for this to take effect, so I'm trying to be patient.  

 

And finally, cell phone service is worse than I had heard.  My friends keep asking me if I've received their text messages.  Nope, text messages are very intermittent.  Receiving a call?  Not while I'm at home.  The caller complains about my end "breaking up".  If I'm asked if I would recommend AT&T?  Absolutely not.  But not because of the poor cell phone service.  Primarily because of the "questionable" sales tactics used to get people to switch.  Regardless of their connection to AT&T, these sales representatives are, in fact, representing AT&T.  Considering the number of complaints I've read and seen, I have to suspect AT&T is aware of these practices and condone them.  Why do I say "condone"?  Because I've read the same complaints dating back 4 years.

 

 

ACE - Sage

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97.4K Messages

4 y ago

@Carolinaboy71

And where did you get this information?   Authorized retailers?

your question 1 and 2 were given wrong answers.  There is no $650 credit offer.  The offer was UP TO $650 reimbursement for your phones ETF or device payments.  Not the same thing.  

 

1.  Credits take 3 months to kick in, you aren’t at 3 months yet.  (BOGO and DTV)

2.   The “buy out” is the up to $650 offer.  All buy outs require you turn in your phone to get reimbursed for it.  You only break even, it is NOT a money making offer.  (BTW all carrier had the exact same offer, same requirements)

3.  No carrier pays your bills.  You are always required to do that.  

https://www.att.com/shop/wireless/switch-and-save-etf.html

4.   No carrier guarantees service.  It’s entirly on us customers to determine if service will work for us. I moved one line to test service, so the expense was minimal if I had to switch back.  You had 14 days to back out.  

5.   If you have home internet, turn on Wifi calling.

     The BOGO offers date back to December 2015.  The Switch offer began in February 2016.  A little over 2 years ago, not 4.  

 

Mentor

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25 Messages

4 y ago

Where did I get this information?  Depends on which information you are referring to.  If it pertains to the "offer" that I described, the information came from the AT&T sales representative.  Was this AT&T sales representative associated with authorized retailers?  I have no idea.  Until reading all the complaints, I never knew there was a difference in authorized retailers and those representing AT&T.  As for the $650 credit I mentioned, the literature I was given specifically states that "...to make it easier to switch, you'll get up to $650 in credits per line."  I inadvertently left out the "up to" comment in my post.

 

If it pertains to my comments on unethical business practices (or sales), my information came from numerous customer complaints dating back to 2014.  As to when the BOGO's began, I have no idea.  My BOGO complaint is only one of many other complaints that are out there on the internet, as well as the community forum.  And speaking of my BOGO offer, there was no mention of it taking 3 weeks to take affect.  Which is curious because I'm very familiar with BOGO offers and they normally take affect immediately up sale of the BOGO item.  However, had I been informed by the AT&T sales representative or read it in any of the literature I was provided, I would have been content to wait.

 

I had 14 days to back out?  That's news to me and thanks for the information.  Sadly, however, I did not receive my Verizon bill until after those 14 days.  And that's when I first became aware of a problem.  So, it would have been too late to back out anyway.

 

Yes, I'm aware that no carrier guarantees service.  And, as I mentioned in my post, I agreed to the "offer" with knowledge that AT&T service was not as good as Verizon.  When I first went with Verizon many years ago, their service where I live was intermittent.  Later, they added a cell tower in the our and service improved drastically.  As I also stated in my post, that cell phone service was not why I wouldn't recommend AT&T to anyone.  It is their questionable sales practices.  And it doesn't matter to me whether that sales person is from an authorized retailer.  They are still a front line representative of the AT&T company.

 

I'm not aware of whether or not any carrier pays another carriers bill for a customer as part of a "switching" program.  I was specifically told by the AT&T sales representative that AT&T would pay off the balance of the two cell phones I was paying on and that I didn't have to do anything.  There was an element of trust involved that the AT&T sales representative knew what he was talking about.  I didn't expect AT&T to pay my bill but I did expect them to pay off the balance owed on the two cell phones.  I didn't mention it my post, by I had a fourth line with Verizon which was a mobile hot spot for data.  I fully expected to pay that bill.  

 

My sole purpose of posting was to point out what I feel are unethical sales practices used by AT&T.  Whether or not that person is associated with an authorized retailer shouldn't even be a consideration.  However, after reading numerous complaints, it does definitely appear to make a difference in that AT&T is not bound by any agreement made with a sales representative who is not associated with an authorized retailer.  To me, this is a predatory business practice that takes advantage of people who maintain an element of trust in business dealings.  Some of us are too trusting and a bit naïve.  And I guess I fall into that category.

ACE - Sage

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97.4K Messages

4 y ago

No matter how you sign up, you are provided with information on restock fees and the 14 day return information.  The return period is universal, all cellular devices, all carriers and retailers.  Each time you upgraded with Verizon it would have come up.  

Whether or not you read and digested that information before you signed and agreed to terms of service, only you can say.  

As for numerous complaints on the forum...um....of course.  As there are similar numerous complaints on Verizon, T-mobile, etc,  it’s kind of why people come to forums - to complain.   I don’t typically see people post that everything went exactly as expected.   

Tutor

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5 Messages

4 y ago

They did the same thing to me; said they would handle everything but sure they didn't at all. AT&T uses the sales people to get people anyone they can and when you follow up all you get is "oh I'm sorry"....

Contributor

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1 Message

4 y ago

Just so you know, the "unethical nature of sales practices" is pretty widespread in the Wireless industry. I have worked for multiple carriers and the practices are pretty abundant. The companies like to make their "promotions" as complicated as possible which many times causes the customer to not receive the promotion. They are so complicated, many times the sales reps don't fully understand them, as was no doubt the case here. Then if you try to explain to customer service issues regarding misinformation and so on, they are under tremendous pressure not to issue credits under any circumstances, even when the customer is right. Sad state of affairs in today's business world. 

Tutor

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3 Messages

3 y ago

Similar situation with me. I made three deals with sales reps on basis of what they told me and then canceled one after another when I got the terms of agreement in emails and saw what the truth was. Thank God ATT sends confirming emails. After being a happy ATT customer for many, many years, this latest round of what I'll call misunderstandings when I tried to upgrade to a new phone has convinced me to leave ATT and go to Verizon. Verizon is probably no better but they have not lied to me YET.

Tutor

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3 Messages

3 y ago

Respectfully, I think you're missing the point. The point is NOT that ATT deals are unreasonable or outside the usual practices in the cellular business. The point is, sales rep repeatedly (to me, five of six agents gave dramatically incorrect information even when I challenged them and asked "are you sure") give the wrong information. This wrong information, in my experience, always makes the deal more attractive than it actually is. 

ACE - Sage

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97.4K Messages

3 y ago


@easternshoreda wrote:

Similar situation with me. I made three deals with sales reps on basis of what they told me and then canceled one after another when I got the terms of agreement in emails and saw what the truth was. Thank God ATT sends confirming emails. After being a happy ATT customer for many, many years, this latest round of what I'll call misunderstandings when I tried to upgrade to a new phone has convinced me to leave ATT and go to Verizon. Verizon is probably no better but they have not lied to me YET.


Good on you for reading, as you should.  I’m familiar with “salesman speak”.   It’s their job to make the deal sound good.  It’s our job to recognize a pig in pearls and do as you did.  

     Yeah, yeah, every carrier is nice to the new guy.  Verizon is no better/different.  I’m a former and current Verizon customer and still go on the forum now and then.  Big red sanitizes it’s forum.  AT&T doesn’t.  AT&T had a few hundred fraud cases last year, phones ordered on customer accounts as upgrades.  Verizon has 7,000 or so a MONTH.  https://www.cnet.com/news/verizon-asks-fcc-for-permission-to-lock-down-phones/

Once in a while a BOGO or switch offer that went wrong get posted and we have a saying, “read fast” as they disappear faster than you can say moderator.  “Free tablets”, contracts with loss of discount, Lying reps, etc.  🧞‍♂️ Poof.  

To me, that’s a bigger lie.   

Unfortunately their coverage is better, so I deal with the devil.

 

Tutor

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4 Messages

3 y ago

It doesn't matter what another carrier does or doesn't do. If you enter into a contract(verbal and non verbal) and agree to pay a certain amount then get your bills under that contract and they are not what was agreed to that is not only unethical it is illegal.  The contract is breached on the very first bill if it is higher than you are quoted.  There are laws that state that anyone who sells a product and service for a company and that company profits from that sale, the salesperson is essentially that company. If they falsely advertise a price for a product or service in order to sell that service or product both the salesperson and company providing the service or product can be held liable. 

TROLLEDYOUSO

Guru

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561 Messages

3 y ago

But the problem is that you have no proof of what was stated verbally. Even if you could prove it, what you have in writing would probably override the verbal.

GLIMMERMAN76

ACE - Expert

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23.4K Messages

3 y ago


@Hrdwrk808 wrote:

It doesn't matter what another carrier does or doesn't do. If you enter into a contract(verbal and non verbal) and agree to pay a certain amount then get your bills under that contract and they are not what was agreed to that is not only unethical it is illegal.  The contract is breached on the very first bill if it is higher than you are quoted.  There are laws that state that anyone who sells a product and service for a company and that company profits from that sale, the salesperson is essentially that company. If they falsely advertise a price for a product or service in order to sell that service or product both the salesperson and company providing the service or product can be held liable. 


Actually people need to read what they sign..  ATT says its not responsible for REP errors on the paperwork and AUP and TOS.

redrkr

Teacher

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20 Messages

3 y ago

I want to know about lifetime HBO!?  Just for signing up?  I can’t stream it and not offered a discount of any kind.  I’m gonna get my cat a Social sec # and start over.  

 

 

Mentor

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25 Messages

3 y ago

I've been an AT&T customer for 16 months now and 10 of those months were spent trying to resolve the BOGO issue.  I gave up on trying to resolve the agreement on the "buyout three lines".  The BOGO issue was finally resolved this past January 2019.  The ordeal was frustrating but very informative.  I also came to the conclusion that AT&T has deliberately designed a process to make it as difficult as possible on their customers to resolve discrepancies.

 

Regardless of how frustrating, difficult, or inconvenient it may be, any AT&T customer who believes the AT&T sales representative used unethical, or dishonest sales practices to make a sale, you need to air your grievances to the following agencies:  Better Business Bureau, Federal Trade Commission, and your state Adjutant General as a minimum.  A Supreme Court ruling several years ago removed the consumer option of a class action lawsuit.  Ironically, the lawsuit was against AT&T.  As a direct result of the ruling, companies such as AT&T can incorporate an arbitration clause in their consumer contract which requires the customer to resolve their issue through Arbitration instead of a law suit.  Additionally, the contract also informs the customer that they also have the option of going to the small claims court.

 

I opted to go the Arbitration route instead of the small claims court.  Because I had a written agreement that stated specifically what I was being offered and was signed by the sales representative and myself, I felt this was a "slam dunk" which should have been settled by AT&T customer support.  I may have obtained better results by going to small claims court.

 

Prior to making my decision, I did locate a lawyer and paid for some legal advice.  It was confirmed that a law suit was not an option as long as there was the Arbitration clause in the contract.  He also explained to me that as far as he knew, the law hadn't changed and that all companies were responsible for the actions of their employee's but most people would not take the company to task because cost and their time was a major factor.  He stated that a written agreement such as mine was definitely a winner in court.  Verbal agreements between AT&T representatives and the customer was also legally binding but had to meet certain criteria.  He also agreed to represent me during the Arbitration process.

 

I filed my dispute with AT&T as per their guidelines.  Within two weeks, I received a call stating that they had received the dispute.  After answering a few questions pertaining to my issue, I was informed that they would review the dispute and be back in touch in a few days.  Three days later, I received another call wanting to know what it would take to resolve my issue.  All I wanted was AT&T to honor the agreement the sales representative made with me for one free BOGO iPhone 8 Plus 64GB.  A few hours later, I received another call and was told that they would credit my account the remaining $600 or so.  However, AT&T would continue to charge my account for that phone.  I declined the offer and was told my dispute was being forwarded to their legal department and someone would contact me in a few weeks.

 

Three months elapsed and I received no call from AT&T.  I contacted the Better Business Bureau with my complaint.  Additionally, I contacted the Federal Trade Commission with the complaint.  The BBB contacted AT&T to assist in coming up with a resolution.  The Federal Trade Commission notified me that they do not physically pursue the complaint but route it to the appropriate investigation agency.  The same day that the BBB's inquiry was received by AT&T, the same representative I had been dealing with called me and was a little "concerned" that I had gone to the BBB.  After explaining that I had waited three months with no contact from them, the representative stated they would look into it to see what was going on.  After a couple of days, I received another call from AT&T stating that my dispute was still active but did not know why no further action had been taken on it.  I was asked again if I would agree to the $600 credit to my account and again I said no.  The BBB had no choice but to close the case as unresolved.

 

There was something in an article I read on AT&T's website stating that they would pay the $100 or $200 arbitration fee.  I never got the chance to find out if that would be a battle too.  When filling out the arbitration request form, I discovered that to file the arbitration request required an $800 upfront fee.  More money would be due once the arbitration started.  I contacted my lawyer and explained everything.  He asked if AT&T was still going to bill me monthly for that BOGO phone.  Good question because the AT&T representative never said on that last call.  The lawyer advised me to contact AT&T for clarification.

 

I called the AT&T representative and explained I was calling at the request of my lawyer for clarification on their offer.  This time, the representative asked questions I felt they should have asked the first time.  And again, they wanted to know what it would take to resolve the issue.  And again, I stated that I wanted what was offered me in writing; a free BOGO iPhone 8 Plus 64GB and to be paying for only two phones.  That same day, the AT&T representative called stating that my account would be credited for the BOGO phone and I would only be billed for two phones.

 

Issue resolved.

New Member

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1 Message

8 m ago

AT&T cell phone purchase agreements :

Are there any law suits involving changes that AT&T makes on their phone's purchace price , after a new cell phone is sold to the customer for a lower price ? 

I researched the phone's value online by other sellers for About $200.00 less . AT&T  customer sales agent stated they were phasing out this 2019 model sometime in 2021 year . At&t was selling the phone at $620.00 When the average cost to buy it elsewhere was around $400.00 to $480.00 . After they sold the phone to me for about $430.00 , i wanted to drop two of the three phone numbers i was paying on .One line was supposed to be schelded for a cutoff date , and had no effect on their agreement They told me if i dropped the other line within 60 days of billing cycles of the new phone , then i would be charged full price for the phone and pay full price for one line . It seems that AT&T should not be allowed to alter the (Edited per community guidelines). , especially when a down payment is required to buy the pbone on installment payments . I had a history before the new phone purchase , as i activated an older phone i owned before starting with AT&T services  for 2 years before i bought the new one .This seems to be a form of entrapment by changing the agreed purchase price of products they mark up the price for anyway .And should be a loyalty credit value , as being with the company before the new purchase. This only allows them to bait customers to pay more for lines they didnt need and ripped off if changes are made .

(edited)

Former Employee

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1.8K Messages

8 m ago

@mandevillemike  Did you read the terms when you purchased a new phone? 

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