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Monday, May 13th, 2024 7:21 AM

Deceptive "Free Phone" Offer

Three weeks ago, I changed to AT&T fiber Internet, and the technician arrived and started the installation. I then received a call from AT&T, and the person on the phone said he was supposed to drop by and help me with apps and any questions I had about AT&T fiber. So I thought that was part of the AT&T plan, so he came over. As soon as he arrived, he said he had a free Samsung phone for me since I was a new AT&T customer. It sounded too good to be true, but I remembered that my previous ISP had given me three $100 rewards cards, and AT&T’s "free phone" was a year old model, so it sounded reasonable. The AT&T rep charged me $60 at that time for taxes on the phone, and said that would be all I have to pay for the new phone. I asked how much my monthly wireless bill would be, and he used his calculator and showed me that my monthly wireless bill would be $47.31. He then said that my first couple of bills would be higher because the discounts would not take effect immediately. He kept talking about the free phone and migrating my info to the new phone all while the internet fiber technician was asking me questions about the internet fiber installation process, where I wanted items placed, and that he needed to connect my other devices, so I could not concentrate on both people talking to me at the same time. I am nearing my 70s, and listening AND comprehending is not as easy as it used to be. And since I was already planning to replace my present phone, it seemed like this was a legitimate option. The AT&T fiber technician didn't say anything, so the “free phone” appeared to be part of their new customer plan. 

Then, a few days later, I received the first phone bill: $126.71. My previous monthly wireless bill was $17.73. I use my phone minimally because I cannot see the small screen, so I use my computer/internet for nearly everything, but I need a phone for emergencies. I knew my previous phone bill would increase by $25 since I was losing the bundle discount I had with my previous ISP.  I then called AT&T to ask about the bill and they said my monthly bill would be $65.76, not $47.31 as the AT&T rep showed me. My reason for changing to AT&T was to lower my monthly bill, and now, because of this "free phone" trick or whatever it is, I will be paying so much more than with my previous service. Now, I am locked into 36 months with AT&T wireless; I am being charged for the "free" phone in 36 installments adding up to the full price of the phone; and I'm paying this astronomical price for my monthly wireless bill when I rarely use a phone.
Does anyone know if I can cancel this wireless service and return their so-called "free" phone? I saw on a previous post that the best option is to contact the BBB, but I thought I’d ask here first.

ACE - Sage

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118.1K Messages

1 month ago

It's funny but all three major networks have been using these same "deceptive" methods of providing free phones to customers since 2019. The phones are free over 36 months with bill credits which entirely offset the installment, but they may take a couple of months to start bill credits, retroactively.

And yes last year's model would be free. This year's model would not have bill credits sufficient to cover the entire installments.   

Surely you signed something either on paper or on a tablet when you switch to AT&T? Did you read any of it?  

You signed up 3 weeks ago so you are past the return window which was 14 days. So no you cannot get out of this now. Your bill credits will start in approximately 2 months. You also get a discount on BOTH your wireless service and on your home internet service which would be void if you cancel.

It just sound like they've probably put you on the premium plan which you don't need.  You can call 611,  ask AT&T to change your plan for the phone to the starter plan. The starter plan with the discount and after your phone credits kick in should be about $55 after taxes

ACE - Sage

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118.1K Messages

1 month ago

FYI if you have read your first bill, it includes an activation fee, more than one month service, still includes installments because the bill credits have not yet started and will not include your auto-pay and paperless billing discount which is $10 until your first bill is auto paid with paperless billing with a debit card or checking account.

So yes, first bill is high

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