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MMcLaw's profile

Tutor

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7 Messages

Sunday, November 15th, 2015 1:32 AM

AT&T Unlawful Conduct - When will it end?? $2,000 bill for wrongfully disconnecting our account?

I'm editing to add a WARNING: this is a LONG post.  I have a lot to say, and many problems to explain, so it's necesarily long.  So, read at your own risk.  If I can find time, I'll come back to shorten it soon.

 

First, it's only fair that I start by noting that my husband and I are lawyers. I am well aware of contractual obligations, benefitis, and respsective liabilities of all parties from my existing law practice. What I was unfamiliar with was the law applicable to wireless carriers in particular and accordingly, I did my homework before determining I would absolutely NOT pay AT&T a single penny it is claiming we owe after the illegal actions it against us, in what appears to be a habitual practice based on the numerous posts on this forum I've seen now. Here's what happened:

 

We moved from one State to another (adjacant) in June 2015. Both are very populated areas where AT&T claims to have excellent coverage. We did not have any problems in the previous State and rather, AT&T was great there for almost 2 years. The day we arrived in our new home, our cell service was essentially non-existent. I have a Samsung Note 4, and it was only a few months' old at the time we got here. It should have had excellent service, as it did before. I had NONE. I could not make or take a single call while at my home, where I am 90% of the time because we work from home. I could use the phone when out, sometimes, but even then the service was awful. I'm now in the Los Angeles area - seriously?? I must have called 15 times, and every time I did, I had to be prepared to give up anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours of my time to wait on hold and then speak to someone who could not understand the English language (no offense - I'm very liberal, but I do believe anyone handling customer support for a company operating out of the US should have empoloyees that are 100% fluent in English) well enough to understand my question, let alone solve the problem. Needless to say, I just gave up and had a landline installed for the 1st time in over 10 years. My husband got SOME reception on his phone, a far lesser quality Samsung. His reception was not decent enough to finish a call unless it was literally 2 minutes in length or less. Why we didn't immediately terminate with AT&T is a mystery to me, but I'm guessing it's because we've simply been too busy to do so - the move was a killer!

 

Then, I started experiencing major problems with my phone in general. Although I was at home where Wi-Fi is available all the time, the phone would just disconnect from Wi-Fi on its own and I then started incurring overage charges for data at astronimical rates. I called numerous times about this issue and went through every fix imaginable until FINALLY, customer support admitted the phone was defective and needed to be replaced. In order to do so, I had to go to one of only two stores within a 50 mile radius from my home (again, in the LA area - really??) so this was something I had to take FOUR HOURS to do, as it turned out. It took me a few weeks to be able to find enough time to even make the drive, which was about 45 minutes away. All the while, I was sure to take screen shots of the phone switching over to mobile data when Wi-Fi was showing as clearly availalbe and the switch was on such that the phone should have been automatically switching to Wi-Fi no matter what. I seriously hardly ever left the house. During the past 10 years of having cell phones, my family has never gone over 1 GB in data use between us. When we moved here in June, our data use approached 20 GB!! When I finally made it in to a store, the techical support rep took a look at the phone for about 20 minutes and then told me, yes, it iis indeed defective and needs to be replaced. He would have to take some time to do all the paperwork and transfer my data to the new phone, so he asked that I wait in the Store while he did so. I asked that he notate my account regarding the overage charges because they were quite obviously not properly charged. He agreed and promised to do so. He did not have authority to refund those charges to me himself, he explained, but there would be no problem at all once I contacted customer support when I got home.

 

I spent over 2 hours at that store, and during that process, arranged for ATT Uverse to take over everything at my house, including a home security system. We had Time Warner and as we live in a hilly area, it was either TW or ATT - no alteratives, and TW is terrible with Internet and TV, and VERY expensive. I will acknowledge that Uverse has been great so far. I got my new Note 4 and the service did not improve one bit. However, the data overage charges stopped completely. We were back to normal, utilizing less than 1GB between us during each billing cycle.

 

On October 7, I got a text message stating a $220 (plus change) bill was due. That's odd, I thought, as our bill was only around $130 plus tax. It was nothing but a notice, suggesting it was an indication our bill had just been printed for mailing or something like that. That day, my husband called AT&T Wireless to inquire about why the bill was so high. The rep concocted some wild plan to assist us in getting refunded the nonsense overage charges that were still on our account despite me calling the day I went to the store when I got home and being promised those charges would all be refunded. This rep stated the only way he could get the data overage charges removed was to temporarily switch us to a 10GB plan and then refund when the next bill was issued. My husband objected many times stating that plan seemed very complicated with little hope of the next rep we got understanding what was going on. He kept asking why the charges could not be refunded right then and there. The rep insisted this was the only way. We took notes of course during the conversation and reluctantly agreed, as we were advised over and over this was the only way to get the overage charges properly refunded.

 

We never got a bill in the mail, an email, another text or anything of the sort. However, on October 15 - a mere one week after that 1st friendly notice type text message to me only - our services were disconnected without so much as a warning before the fact!  WHAT??? We use our cells for our business. We cannot talk on them, but we have the calls forwarded from them to our home line and when we're out of the house, my husband's at least worked well. Having our cells is 100% critical. We also got our emails there when away from the computer - that part of the phone did function for me. We contacted AT&T. Four hours later, we got to what we believed to be a final resolution, but of course, that was another AT&T lie.

 

The 1st rep we got was so incredibly rude, I made it a point to request that a formal complaint be lodged against her, which is something I have never done in my life. She called me a liar, stating the data in the computer system was 100% correct and could NEVER be wrong. We all know what a joke that comment is! I requested her supervisor, which she insisted was a waste of my time, would require me to wait a long time - anything and everything to avoid that result - but I persisted and finally a supervisor got on the line. We went through the ordeal of explaining everything all over again to what ended up being four different people, ranging from my defective phone to the idiotic plan the last rep came up with that was supposed to allow for a refund.

 

We learned that AT&T required a payment of nearly $500 to turn our phones back on, despite the fact that it ADMITTED nearly $400 of that amount was charged in error! The $220 for the last bill, which we got notice of only one week earlier, and the rest for a bill that would not be due until November 2nd. WHAT? No, that is so not happening! We got transferred around four times in total, until we finally reached someone in management who was very nice to us. However, she, too, insisted the only way we could get our phones turned back on was for payment of $500. She at least acknowledged repeatedly that AT&T NEVER should have disconnected our phones. How could it be in the right to do so? We had ZERO notice of its intent to disconnect, we had only one notification the bill was due, and it was a simple text message that had no warnings of being late or being at risk of disconnection, etc. In addition, the rep we spoke with that day mentioned nothing of potential adverse actions. Apparently, however, a disconnection notice was sent out October 8, and we had not received it yet on October 15 when they shut our phones off. One would think the rep we spoke with October 7 could have told us of this impending action? Or even better - perhaps a bill would have been sent? An email? A call? ANYTHING at all warnning us that we were considered "late," or more importantly at risk of disconnection?

 

At this point it dawned on me - why am I paying a company for cell service I do not receive anymore?? I have had literally zero service since June 10th - what am I doing?? At that point, my husband told the woman in management if she did not have our phones turned back on within 30 minutes, we were switching to another carrier. She promised, repeatedly, she would call us back no later than 30 minutes from 11am that day (we'd been on the phone since 8:15am). We waited an hour and a half. Then, my husband went to T-Mobile and made the switch. I stayed home - that call NEVER came and to date, it still has not. T-Mobile discovered that contrary to its promises to specifically NOT do this, AT&T locked up our phones (this is illegal and in breach of its own contract with its customers!) making it impossible to use those phones with T-Mobile. Accordingly, it took 5 hours to get new phones and all of our data transferred over. We had tons of pictures stored on our phones and had we had any notice of this happening, we would have backed up those photos so the transfer would be easy. We did not have that luxury though, so we lost an entire work day over this nonsense.

 

This is a scam, illlegal, and just wrongful on so many levels it's ridiculous! If anyone reading this is with AT&T, I do encourage you to contact me to make amicable arrangements for resolution of this dispute.

 

We then got a bill from AT&T. It was for the phones, both of which were already paid for in full and one of which was a refurbished replacement phone. They want $1,500!!!! NO. By no stretch of the imagination will I ever be paying this bill. If anything, AT&T owes us and not the other way around! Yesterday brought another bill to us in the form of an email notice only that had no breakdown of charges at all (we've yet to see that for this bill) - the nearly $500 AT&T already acknowledged was improperly charged to us in the 1st place! I got an email yesterday advising me of the "past due balance," warnning that I will be sent to collections very soon if I did not pay. So, now I have to take the time out of my work day and/or time meant to be spent with my daughter, to write a detailed letter disputing the charges to AT&T. The address for doing so was nearly impossible to locate! Moreover, the email told me I could log in online to make the payment, yet when I tried to do so, it refused access, stating I no longer have an active account there.

 

This is a scam, illlegal, and just wrongful on so many levels it's ridiculous! 

AT&T - you are a terrible company!   How can you destroy customer relationships like this with zero regard for doing so?  You claim you're such a "caring" company, but reality is that you could not care less!  

Finally, I do note that we have only EVER received approximately two paper bill statements from AT&T despite NUMEROUS requests to receive the same.  We have not received a single piece of paper regarding our billings since moving to California.  However, in attempting to find an address so I could write to AT&T after getting my warning about going to collections email, I was about to go crazy from the inability to do so until someone was kind enough to post it here in the forums.  I discovered there that AT&T includes some sort of warning on its billing statements that if you do not dispute a charge within 100 days of the billing statement, it is deemed waived.  I hereby preserve all of my rights to challenge the billings issued by AT&T since June 10, 2015 regardless of whether 100 days supposedly applies to bar some of those charges.  I have never received a paper statement, nor was I ever successful in accessing my statements online.  I have therefore NEVER seen this supposed waiver, nor did I ever consent to it.  You cannot insert biolerplate/fine print language purporting to operate as a waiver because a waiver requires knowing, voluntary consent to give up a known right.  I did not know about this waiver potential, so that element has not been met.  I likewise did not voluntarily give up any rights at all and to the contrary, I called to complain numerous times since moving to CA on that date.  Finally, I have never consented to give up any of my rights and in fact have refused to do so.

 

[Edited to comply with Guidelines]

Professor

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3.2K Messages

9 years ago

This is a user to user community forum and I, just another customer, didn't even bother reading your novella. Did you read your contract? As a lawyer, you ought to know that any disputes you have with ATT have to go through binding arbitration. 

 

https://www.att.com/esupport/article.jsp?sid=47114&cv=820&br=BR&ct=800302&pv=2

Tutor

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7 Messages

9 years ago

First, I don't care whether you read the post in full or not.  As a customer who I've seen complains a bit about AT&T problems, it would be in your interest to do so.  What happned to us is not something that can be summed up succintly for people such as yourself.  You are not my intended audience in any event.  

Second, I learned of the binding arbitration clause last night on this forum, as I have never received any paperwork from AT&T other than what came in the boxes of our cell phones when we first signed up.  I am not surprised about it, having said that, as I have faced such clauses for my clients numerous times.  About 90% of those times, I have succeeded in defeating motions to dismiss based on claims that the State Court action should be subject to the binding arbitration clause similar if not identical to the one you reference.  Even if that motion succeeds, presuming I file against AT&T, it will not bother me.  I have participated in AAA arbitration many times and prevailed.  I'm not afraid of doing so here.  

Third, what's your point?  Are you expecting to deter me from going after AT&T and/or defending myself against AT&T?  If you, as a customer, think that is the "right" result, then shame on you.  What happened here and I suspect to numerous others is simply wrong, not to mention, illegal. 

ACE - Sage

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117.7K Messages

9 years ago

Well, you are the record holder for longest post ever.  Good thing I am a fast reader.

 

I won't dismiss your claim as much of these problems seem to be ATT error.

 

I will just address the shorter list of things that are not correct (to save time). ATT does have the legal right to keep your phones locked to the network until your account is paid in full.

Unless you paid $800 for your Note 4, you did not pay full price, but paid a discounted 2 year contract price.   Also, unlocking is not automatic, you must request unlocking through the portal.

https://www.att.com/esupport/article.jsp?sid=KB414532&cv=820

 

The other comment, is unless you specifically requested otherwise, ATT does not send paper bills.  You would have had a bill for ATT Uverse for partial first and full second month.  

 

 

Last sat comment is just a note of irony:  The phone that wouldn't make voice calls apparently had no trouble accessing the network for data, and YIKES.

 

Link to terms of use:  please note the dispute process must be written.

http://www.att.com/legal/terms.wirelessCustomerAgreement-list.html

 

Good luck.

 

Tutor

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7 Messages

9 years ago

Yes, we requested paper statements too many times to count.  Every month from the start, and many times in between.  I'm sorry this is a long post - I admit it is.  We had a LOT of problems so I felt it important to explain the most important (I could have written so much more, as we had so many other problems) so it was apparent we (1) do not owe what AT&T says we do, and (2) we were wrongfully disconnected.  We paid the full 2 years of the phone's value.  Mine was replaced as refurbished and I paid for it outright pursuant to a discount, yes, but that does not subject it to $800 becuase of the refurbished factor and if I'm paid in full, I stay that way - I terminated our services after our contract ended.  My husband never upgraded after the first phone, so he was paid in full, too.  Thanks for at least being polite.  I appreciate it.

ACE - Sage

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117.7K Messages

9 years ago

Your welcome.  As I wrote above, if your phones are fully paid for and lines out of contract, you can request them to be unlocked.  

Unlocking is not automatic.  I put the link to unlock portal in my previous post.

 

Professor

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3.2K Messages

9 years ago

Then who was your intended audience? As I said, this is a customer to customer forum. If you want people to read your complaints, you ought to know you need to keep it concise, as the rest of us have very short attention spans. You don't get points here for writing a novel and most customers won't even bother reading it.

ACE - Sage

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117.7K Messages

9 years ago


@MMcLaw wrote:

.....Mine was replaced as refurbished and I paid for it outright pursuant to a discount, yes, but that does not subject it to $800 becuase of the refurbished factor and if I'm paid in full.


I noticed this portion of your last post and it bothered me, so I have to add;  ATT does not typically discount a phone without also locking you into a contract for 2 years.  I don't know it your phone was a warranty replacement, insurance replacement, or a new, 2 contract on your line.

Employee

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116 Messages

9 years ago

I'm curious if you had "Smart network switch" enabled on your Note 4 causing it to disconnect from WiFi on its own. 😕

Tutor

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7 Messages

9 years ago

I tried both ways. The technical support store agreed that the device was defective.  That's why they gave me a replacement.

Tutor

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7 Messages

9 years ago

I had my device a long time.  We did have a one year contract originally but we were well beyond that.  It was the 2nd warranty replacement, so that's why I referenced the device as only being area months old.
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