AT & T is saying i returned an empty box
I got a Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra from AT&T along with a new postpaid connection on September 22. The new device reached me on September 25.
I subsequently got some personal news which meant that I might not be in the United States for the contract period of the phone.
I returned the device using their Pitney Bowes parcel return service through USPS on 27th Sep 2023 and the package weighed 1lb and 1.10 oz. I got the receipt and took a picture of it to be safe. I however did not capture a video of me putting the device in the box because I was in a hurry to return the device and get to work. I got a notification that the device was received on October 9 and I would be contacted for any issues. I didn't get any notifications.
Fast forward to today and I get a bill for $1319.53 from AT&T including the full price of the device that I returned. I called up AT&T and they had me waiting for more than 90 minutes while they sorted it out. Finally, I got the news that they received an 'Empty Box' and so I was charged for the full price. They also sent pictures to 'prove' that it was an empty box. It felt weird that the return was delivered October 9 and they didn't contact me about the empty box until I asked them what the issue was.
Someone had neatly removed the bubble wrap covering the device box and only that plus other padding and foam was there in the box in the pics that they sent. I was shell-shocked and literally started crying and having panic attacks right there. The person told me that AT&T was not responsible for such things, and that there was 'no way' that the package was tampered with or stolen, and that I sent in an empty box.
I am literally having chest pains and a panic attack because there is no way I can afford to pay the $1319.53. I have no idea how to sort this out. I have already contacted the BBB but I have no idea if I have any chance at all of getting my bill reversed.
I even asked AT&T customer care to check if the phone with the IMEI was activated at any time. I didn't ask them to deactivate the device though. I hate to think that I have been footed with a $1300 bill for a device that some thief is enjoying right now.
Can someone please help me out? As I said earlier, I am having panic attacks and chest pains seeing this happen.