NEXT is a huge risk, and AT&T & Best Buy will not help.
AT&T's NEXT feature seems like a godsend for those people who are planning on sticking with the service for a while, but I have recently learned that there are great risks associated with this program. I have been a loyal customer with AT&T and pay them a great deal of money monthly between my mobile service and uVerse, but the interactions I've had with the company in the past 2 weeks are quickly turning me off to my long-term relationship with them.
In mid-November 2014, I went to my local Best Buy store and was surprised to find iPhone 6 Plus units in stock --- unobtanium at that time. I decided to lock the phone down via NEXT upgrade, trading in my iPhone 5S in the process. I received my iPhone 6 Plus after handing my iPhone 5s to the representative at my local Best Buy, who inspected the phone, played with it for a while, checked the SIM and inspected it for damage/water exposure.
Everything was fine, we finalized the upgrade, and Best Buy provided me a box in a gray bag with instructions on how to wipe my data off the phone and how to ship it. A prepaid label was provided with this package. I wiped my data off the phone and sent it off a few days later -- I handed it to my local USPS mailwoman who frequently picks up my outgoing packages.
I never heard anything about my old phone again and my account proceeded as normal, when all of a sudden a charge appeared on my bill for the amount of the phone ($259.99). After calling to inquire about the charge, I was told that AT&T had never received the phone and added the charge nearly 4 months after I performed my upgrade. I got the usual run-around that they would "investigate" the issue and get back to me. The rep said AT&T would call my local Best Buy store for more information on the returned phone. Today I learned that they never called Best Buy, and I was told by the rep that I should just do it by myself -- makes sense because AT&Ts reps have no intention of being accountable for this issue.
I called Best Buy's corporate office and spoke to a representative that says they have no way of tracking the phone. The prepaid label they provided me and explicity told me to use does not include tracking. Once again, I received the run around and was told to contact AT&T and tell them that Best Buy could not help me since the phone was supposed to be sent back to AT&T. I was also told to contact my post office, but that went nowhere quick since I don't have a tracking number or any other information to reference.
I called AT&T after trying the post office and my local Best Buy, and once again got the run around. Simply put, AT&T and Best Buy do not feel as though it is necessary to get involved or investigate, and that I am liable for the charges for the phone that was correctly shipped but basically untrackable. I asked the representative to check the wireless activity for my old phone's IMEI/serial numbers and they confirmed that it has not been used since I performed the exchange. This leads me to believe that the package is either A. sitting in AT&T's receiving warehouse, B. in one of any post offices in the 50 United States or C. completely vaporized.
Either way, short of me lying down in the middle of my nearest AT&T store in peaceful protest, it looks as though this is my problem, even though it's obvious I do not have possession of the phone. Looking through similar forum posts, this is not a new issue with the NEXT program.
If this post does not end up in front of someone who will actually take accountability for the issue I am having with AT&T and Best Buy, I would at least like to think that any loyal AT&T customers would use this and similar stores as a warning if they decide to roll the dice with their old phone.
Any advice on next steps or any solutions other members have discovered would be helpful as well.
- Performed AT&T NEXT upgrade at my local Best Buy
- Shipped old phone back to AT&T using box and prepaid label provided by Best Buy
- 4 months later, $259.99 charge appears on my bill for unreturned equipment
- AT&T says they will investigate with Best Buy, this is never done
- Best Buy says prepaid label was addressed to AT&T and they do not have tracking
- AT&T confirmed IMEI for phone has not been used since I traded it in
- According to two separate AT&T customer service reps, I am still liable for the charges