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NOLAJAY70117's profile

3 Messages

Monday, February 5th, 2024 11:46 PM

Why is ATT making it so hard to trade in my iPhone?

TL;dr - Trading in my iPhone 13 Pro for a new iPhone 15 Pro with ATT has been a really confusing and drawn-out experience and I'm not sure why it's been so difficult, or what is going on on my particular case. Read on for all the details. 


A few weeks ago I saw a notice on about trading in my iPhone 13 Pro for a $1000 credit on a new iPhone 15 Pro and decided it sounded like a good idea. I was happy with my 13 Pro, which was in perfect condition — but why not future proof it for another few years at no cost?

So I completed the order and trade in offer application online and figured I was good to go. Got a notice from ATT a few hours later saying the order was cancelled due to a "technical glitch" and to try again, which I did. Woke up the next morning to another cancelled order. A chat rep told me this often happens when there's an I.D. or billing issue and the best thing to do would be to go to an ATT store and get everything taken care of there.

Called my local ATT store to confirm phone I wanted was in stock and headed over to pick it up. Rep took my information, including the IMEI of the phone I was trading in. I didn't have time then and there to transfer everything over to my new phone, so the rep told me I could just bring my old phone back to any ATT store within ten days to complete the trade in.

And here's where things start getting weird.

I transfer everything over to my new phone, wipe the old one, and take it to a (different, closer) ATT store a few days later. Rep checks my account and notes that everything looks OK for trade in and takes my phone. I ask for a receipt. She tells me their printer is down (I'm in IT, I know it happens!) but that I could take a photo of the receipt on her iPad for a record, which I do. Tradein value on receipt is listed as $290 canceled out to $0, which she tells me is because of the $1000 offer (OK, I guess?) but that she's made a record on my account that I'm taking advantage of the advertised $1000 credit offer and that's what I should expect to receive within 2 to 3 billing cycles.

After returning home, I check my account to make sure exchange/upgrade process is all squared away. There's no record of the trade in in my account - just a notice of the initial "cancelled" orders and their accompanying tradein(s). OK, I think - I'll just wait a few days to see if the system updates. Check it again a few days later, still nothing. A chat rep tells me to go back to the store to getting a "tracking number" to make sure my old phone is being sent back to ATT for inspection/credit - weird, but OK. It's the weekend, though, and I decide to put that off for a few days. Still no update to my online account regarding my upgrade/exchange status in the meantime.

And here's where things start getting even more weird.

This morning (about a week after dropping off my old phone) I see a missed call from the ATT Store where I dropped off my old phone. No voicemail. I call back and tell them I just missed someone from the store calling me. Rep puts me on the phone with the woman who handled my exchange: Apparently, the IMEI for the phone she has that she says is "mine" (apparently it hadn't been sent in for trade in yet) doesn't match the IMEI number on my paperwork. Moreover, the phone she has and thinks is mine is an iPhone 13 Pro Max. I tell her there's no way it could be mine, as I traded in an iPhone 13 Pro. She insists there is some discrepancy due to an IMEI mismatch and that she won't be able to proceed with my exchange until it's resolved. 

I ask her what I need to do. She tells me to come back to the store to verify the phone she has isn't my old one, which doesn't make sense to me: if It's an iPhone 13 Pro Max, it is clearly not my phone, and of course it would have a different IMEI number than the one on my paperwork. I explain that to her patiently. She continues to insist that I come back to the shop to verify in person.

So I get in my car and head back to the store. When I arrive she goes in the back and comes out with what is clearly an iPhone 13 Pro Max. I tell her I can see instantly that it is not my phone. "OK," she says. "I just wanted to make sure." And apparently that's it - I had to drive twenty minutes and back to look at a phone that I already knew wasn't mine and tell her it wasn't mine.

I ask her where my old phone is then, if the one she has that she thinks is mine isn't. She assures me it's on its way back to ATT for inspection and that I will receive an email when the process is complete - anywhere from 2 to 4 weeks. (I am already aware that the credits won't appear on my bill until 2 or 3 billing cycles after that, so the extra delay is annoying, but whatever.) She also says she has no idea what the "tracking number" the chat rep memtioned refers to and that all info is linked to my main ATT account - which as you may remember has no record of any of this, at least as I'm able to check online.

So I'm still left with a lot of questions and confusion. Although I have a photo of my tradein receipt and an email from ATT, I am unable to track the status of my tradein since none of the invoice or transaction numbers seem to be in the ATT system, at least in any trackable form. Chat reps see a record that a trade in was requested but nothing else. I'm starting to feel uneasy that my old phone has somehow been lost in the system and that I'm not going to see that $1000 credit on my bill at all.

Any thoughts on this (very long) saga? Why is trading in a phone such a headache? For comparison's sake - I traded in my old Apple Watch SE for a new Apple Watch 9 at the Apple Store a few weeks ago and it was a seamless transaction: I took my old watch in, they looked at it to verify condition and serial number, and I received the stated tradein credit instantly. I don't know why ATT is making me jump through all these hoops.  Or did I just happen to be unlucky enough to deal with a store rep who isn't especially on top of things? She's very nice otherwise and I'm thinking It's more that the process is too complicated for everyone involved. But I still want to know what's going on. 

If you've made it this far - thank you for coming to my TED talk, etc. :)

*Edited for spelling and grammar.

Accepted Solution

Community Support


232.4K Messages

4 months ago

Hey@NOLAJAY70117.  We see that you are having difficulties with the AT&T Trade-in procedure. We are sorry for the inconvenience. Furthermore, we can understand that this would have been difficult for you. No worries, we are here to help you. We read the whole post sent by you, and we apologize for all the hardships you went through. Rest-assured we will make sure we resolve this for you.


The Community Forums are a public support option where other users, and AT&T, will try and assist with high level support needs. This means we won’t be able to look into account specific concerns.  To get the help you need for your unique issue, please review our Contact Us page, and choose the best option to reach out to us.  You can call, chat, or reach out via social media, and we can review your specific issue and provide you support.  If you feel your issue isn’t account specific, and can be answered generally, please let us know, and we’ll be happy to help.


Thank you for reaching out, 


AT&T Community Specialist.

ACE - Sage


117.9K Messages

4 months ago

that I could take a photo of the receipt on her iPad for a record, which I do. Tradein value on receipt is listed as $290 canceled out to $0, which she tells me is because of the $1000 

Yes, the receipt is correct.  The $290 is good for full credits.  Don't lose it

3 Messages

4 months ago

That's good to know, thank you. One less thing to be confused about! Still wondering what the deal with the IMEI "discrepancy" was, and how I can track my tradein progress - trying to track it on turns up nothing. None of this process has exactly inspired confidence ...

3 Messages

4 months ago

Thanks, Veronica. I realize I went into a lot of/too much detail on my problem, but so far I haven't been able to get any straightforward answers from any of the customer service agents I've chatted with. So I thought explaining it here might be helpful. I'll keep trying the usual support channels.

(In general, though, I still maintain the upgrade process feels a lot more convoluted than it should be.)

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