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Tuesday, September 27th, 2022 12:04 AM

Retention Department please contact me

Angry User AT&T Cell Phone and Services Summary 09/26/2022

In March of 2021 my girlfriend needed a new cell provider and phone. Her provider had lost control of her account and she was unable to administer her account or to get messages.  Since I was already an AT&T customer I chose to add her to my account instead of switching to another carrier.

Here's the summary.

March 27, 2021: When I began to investigate the promotions in depth, I was unable to login to my account.  I called 855 243 4863 to unsnarl my account and discuss the promotions. This is the summary of my phone call with the CSR.

  • I had a 4 line family plan.
  • In 2019 I was divorced.
  • After the divorce, my plan ownership was transferred to my ex-wife.
  • My phone (xxx xxx xxxx) was split from the plan.
  • I had initialized a new AT&T 4G single phone plan for myself.
  • I then signed up for autopay with paperless billing.

the CSR investigated and determined that unbeknownst to me, my billing had been transferred back to my ex-wife’s account. She resolved the login issue.

I began by adding a new line and phone for my girlfriend. With the trade-in of her Samsung S8 she would receive a free 5G phone and an Unlimited Starter Plan. The new phone was written down in 30 monthly installments against the $700 trade-in value. She ordered a Samsung S21 5G 128GB with a 5G Basic plan.

Then my transaction began to warp.  I couldn't add her 5G Plan to my existing 4G plan. Nor could I add my 4G Phone to her 5G Plan. Keeping my phone and plan and adding hers would require me to pay for 2 individual plans at more than $130 month. To keep my payments in line I had to get a new 5G phone and plan. I looked at the promo that my girlfriend had and decided to trade in my Samsung S7 for a Samsung S21 5G 256GB with a 5G Basic plan.

As I spoke to the CSR I processed the online trade-ins for both phones. Things went awry shortly afterwards.

  • One TradeIn per Promo: After 3+ hours on the phone I was informed that I could only assign one trade in per promotion. Even though I was eligible for an upgrade, there were no similar promotions for existing customers. Instead I received a $700 credit for one phone vs. $1400 for two.
  • TradeIn Reversal: The trade-in of my Samsung7 had already been accepted. the CSR didn’t know how to reverse the process or who to contact. At this point I was cornered and had to complete the transaction.
  • Keeping Original Phone Number: I had bought and paid off my Samsung 7 on an AT&T installment plan. I was told that I couldn’t keep my original phone number. The system won’t allow a phone number reuse if it had been assigned to a paid off promotion. I’d had that number for more than 20 years. If I changed numbers my professional and private telephony would be disrupted. My printed marketing, web content and Ecommerce accounts would all require updating. the CSR had no access to the system that would allow her to resolve the issue. She told me to contact the AT&T specialists after the phone arrived.

This is the summary of the deal I thought that I had.

  • Trade in 2 Samsung (S7 & 8+) phones for 2 new S21 5G’s (128 & 256GB).
  • The promo would provide my girlfriend with a free phone after 30months.
  • I would pay for the second phone on an installment plan.
  • Two 5G Unlimited Starter Plans @$60 month before autopay and paperless billing.
  • The monthly charge would then be $45 per line or $90 for both.
  • One activation fee of $30 would be waived.
  • The Order Summary wouldn’t reflect either of the changes noted above for 24 hours.
  • Immediately after the order was placed I received the billing summary. The charges were as the CSR had noted.

March 31 2021: We received the phones, but I wanted to see if the paper billing was correct before activating them. Shortly after this I received the trade-in return packaging for my Samsung S7. It stated that it must be returned within a certain time period or my new phone would be deactivated. I wasn’t going to spend another 3 hours thrashing around from one AT&T department to another until the right one was located to sort it out.

I sent in my Samsung7, trade in valuation $700, and received nothing in return.

April 10 2021: The paper bill I received in the mail was incorrect. None of the agreed upon changes were reflected.

  • The Activation Fee of $30 was not waived
  • A monthly charge of $170 was posted for 3 lines.

Sunday April 11 2021: I called the AT&T Wireless Customer Support Line. I was on the line for 28 minutes with a young man. He finally informed me that I could not modify my account because my ex-wife still owned it. Without her access code he could not split me from the account. Further, his area of responsibility did not include billing administration. He transferred me to the billing department service line. The transfer failed. “We are closed on the weekends…” However, your web page says otherwise.

April 12 2021: The account ownership transfer was completed. I verified the operation of my new phone, xxx xxx xxxx, by inserting the SIM card and partially initializing it. I contacted AT&T to transfer my original cell phone number to the new phone and correct the billing errors. My request was entered into the call back queue. I received no callback.

Sometime between April and May 2021: I called the sales support line. The specialists took the assigned number of the new phone and turned it into a dummy to bill the promo against.

They said that they couldn’t just provision the phone as a place holder; another 5G Plan was needed for me to keep my phone number. My only option was to buy another 5G Unlimited Starter Plan for an extra $50.90 per month ($1,527/30months).

June 2021: The CSR said she couldn't do anything about the billing.

Sept 2021: I called again, in September I think.

The CSR said I could turn the fully provisioned ghost phone down to a minimal service level on my ATT page. She gave me the UI option path and hung up. That path doesn’t exist in a customer’s UI.

 January 2022: The CSR said that my phone number issue had happened to a bunch of people. After 20 minutes I reached a supervisor.  He listened and said that he'd transfer me to the person that could fix it.

“Don't worry, he has your number. If you get disconnected he'll call you back”. He hung up; 15 seconds later the system bounced me. There was no call back.

April 2022: I became ill with Covid, Anaplasmosis and LaCrosse Encephalitis. I was placed on a ventilator for 4 days and almost died. I awoke after intubation and didn’t know my own name. I rebuilt my memory over the next 3 months. I didn’t follow up because I didn’t remember that I had an issue. I did not regain normal cognitive processing until August.

September 3, 2022: I received a text informing me that I was eligible for an upgrade. It spurred my memory and I checked my account. If I buy out the remainder of my contract, I can trade in my phone for full credit for another phone and installment plan.

Enough is enough! I have tried to get this resolved at least 3 times. This is not trivial. It requires devoting as much as 3 hours per session to end up exactly where I started. This is the accounting breakdown.

  • Over 30 months I should be paying:



  • Instead I’m paying:



  • The extra $50.90 per month ($1,527/30months) is for a 5G Unlimited Starter Plan that I do not need and cannot access.
  • I handed over a working phone ($700 credit) because the online support for my issue was undefined.
  • Over the life of the contract I am required to pay AT&T $1509.30 each for 2 plans and $1,527 for the Dummy phone plus surcharges.
  • In the case of the Dummy phone, adding the $700 trade-in (Samsung S7) increases my total outlay (all charges) to $5,969.50.
  • This pushes the monthly cost (all charges) for my plan and keeping my number to $100 per month.

The number of hours spent trying to resolve this issue is astonishing. Since 1992 I have had from 2-5 users on my plan. Using a rough average estimate of $125/month, over 30 years I have paid AT&T over $45,000. I had some minor issues with you before. But this is beyond the pale.

Me: “Will my phone number ever be released from this overcharge?”

AT&T Specialist: “No, you’ll have to repeat this overpayment process forever.”

If this cannot be resolved, I will buy out my contracts and do a BYOD to another carrier.


Angry User

ACE - Expert


64.6K Messages

1 year ago

The retention department is not going to contact you from your post here. At best you’ll get a response from ATTHelp.

ACE - Sage


110.7K Messages

1 year ago

You will not get a phone call based on a very long post here. If anyone from customer support does turn up to respond they likely will not read your post, or if they do read it they will not comprehend.

If you want to talk to retention you have to call 611 from your phone, you can use the keyword cancel service which automatically transfers you to the loyalty/retention Dept.

This is one of those times where you should have asked before you entered into this Tangled mess, "How do I do this...?"  Because everything was done backwards or just plain wrong from the start. And I can't put all of this on AT&T.   

I've read through the first half of your post. It is clear you do not understand how plans work, how a ToBR works, how assuming a line from another carrier works, how promotions work, how billing works.  

Most of us would have been resolved if you read anything online. AT&T's promotions are published, so are the prices of the plans.

All of the promotions for existing and new customers require an unlimited data plan minimum for two lines on unlimited starter is  $120  ($60 each).  

You cannot add someone to your account unless you own the account, which you did not.  And you should have known that. 


The transfer of billing responsibility is a two-part transfer. Your ex wife has to initiate or approve the transfer, you have to accept the transfer and open a new brand new account in your name.   You had two weeks to create your own account. It seems you did not do so, and failure to do so means the transfer never completed and your line remained on your ex-wife's account.  

This was on you. 

    If you had done the transfer you would not have needed a new line which then tied that line to the installment and to the installment Bill credits for your trade in phone. Another thing you should have asked before you did it if you wanted to keep the number that was on your ex wife's account. 

      The $30 activation fee is a valid charge. All service providers now charge something to port in or upgrade. I don't know why you thought the fee would be waived.   


    Both of your phones were eligible as trade-in devices for new Samsung phones, your S7 for your upgrade, and hers for her new phone. 

You cannot suspend The Unwanted line at a reduced rate without losing your promotional credits for your trade in. 

You might as well pay off your phones and pick a new carrier. AT&T has no responsibility to fix this for you and it has been a year and 1/2. 

May I recommend that you read your new service providers website, Promotional offers, and understand all of the fine print so that you don't do this again. 



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