Why am I in collections? I'm a current customer on a family plan.
I have been an AT&T customer since approximately 2004 and still have the same number I received when I first joined. I merged my account with my partner's number into a family plan in September of 2014.
Even though AT&T has notorious network issues, we stuck with you guys out of the belief that the network was always, in theory, improving, and also out of customer loyalty: even though AT&T’s network is not perfect, the customer service used to be quite good, and any issues I ever had had always been resolved by calling your customer service team.
Even though I had been a customer with AT&T for a longer period than my partner, we used my partner’s number as the main number on the plan because he is a law school student. It made sense for us to save a little bit of money where we could.
What a mistake. The moment I merged my account with his, I essentially ceased to exist at AT&T. My number now shows my partner’s name and not my own when I call other people. All of the instruments that I used to employ in the maintenance of my account – the AT&T Wireless app, text alerts and automated calls, and the online account center / webpage to see bills and balance etc. etc. etc. were all disabled as of the moment my plan was merged with my partner’s. No one, from the sales team to the customer service people, informed me that this would happen.
In other words, the exact moment I merged my plan with my partner’s, I lost the ability to be notified of and keep track of any balance remaining on my original account. AT&T disabled those services in the same instant I joined my partner’s family plan.
The process of joining the family plan involved paying any outstanding balances (which we both did as a pre-condition to starting the family plan as directed by the sales agent). However, there apparently was a prorated balance on my original account representing the period of time in the billing cycle before it was merged. In other words, AT&T collected the previous month’s payment from me, but they did not collect the prorated portion of the current month I was using, which amounted to $81.12. This particular problem did not happen to my partner, because his current balance was still recorded on his bill and was taken care of with the next payment. My balance was not reported, because it was my plan that was merged with his.
Even worse, the “family plan” we joined turned out to be even more expensive than our individual plans and resulted in an increase in our monthly billing! As a result, I spent extensive amounts of time (6-8 hours total) in September of 2014 with the AT&T retention team, who, in turn, customized a plan for us and convinced us to stay with AT&T. And the agents I spoke with at that time, including one Deborah Stroud in the retention department, were absolutely outstanding. Ms. Stroud customized a plan for us and informed me that our first joint bill would look pretty jumbled as it accounted for a series of adjustments that resulted from the merger of the two plans, as well as the subsequent changes to those plans.
She stated at that time that even though it was confusing, by by paying that first large bill we would be all set and within a month our monthly bill would drop to approximately $170/month, which it did. Naturally, both my partner and I assumed that since the two plans were merged and we paid the discombobulated and confusing first bill, we were all set. And no one at AT&T ever said otherwise. How was I to know that my old (now disabled) account still had a balance on it? There was no way I could have known. As of the moment the family plan began, my number has been nothing but an offshoot of my partner's - all of my personal information and access to my balance was removed in its entirety by AT&T.
This $81.12 prorated balance I mentioned before, however, lingered on my old disabled account. Even though I have the same number that I have always had, the internal disabling of all of AT&T’s web services for my old account meant that this balance was never reported to me. (AT&T insists that “a letter” was sent. It’s pretty remarkable how uniformly all agents insist on this point, even though no such letter was ever received by me. Certainly no one has mentioned any followups letters. So all of this problem comes down to one letter that may or may not have been sent and was in any case definitely not received.)
Six months later this small balance was sent to a collections agency and once I received notice from them, I called in. However, since I am still an AT&T customer on a family plan, I'm so perplexed as to how this could have happened and I do not understand why the AT&T staff is so reluctant to help me resolve this issue. I have never heard the phrase "I can't" so many times in any other customer interaction I've ever had.
When I called AT&T in June 2015 to resolve the issue, the agent stated that this was obviously an oversight resulting from the merger of the plans and that this happens all the time (a few agents have confirmed that they have heard this before and that family plan mergers were a known issue for a while; Frank Harris in the retention department said that these were known issues that have now been fixed so that it’s not a problem for current customers and mergers. This fix does nothing for me, because my merger happened last September prior to these changes and AT&T will not acknowledge any part in this. The AT&T agent with whom I spoke said that all I had to do was call the collections agency and make the payment and the balance would be removed from my credit report “the following month.” In fact, he said I was “just in time” to have it removed. I did exactly as instructed and, again hearing nothing from AT&T (although I again should have become suspicious when I did not receive the confirmation in writing that had been processed) I assumed the matter was closed.
I just received my updated credit report yesterday from Experian and this $81.12 balance is still on there, now marked "closed" as if I generated a bad debt deliberately and paid it off. I have now spent nearly 10 additional hours since yesterday trying desperately to resolve this issue with both the agency and AT&T. You guys are treating me like I canceled and went to Verizon when in fact I'm still an AT&T customer and have been the whole time.
The agency tells me that this account belongs to AT&T and only AT&T can instruct them to remove it from my credit report; AT&T insists that the balance belongs to the collections agency and that no one at AT&T can help.
This just can’t be right. The situation borders on Kafkaesque - I’m an AT&T customer and have been the whole time since this family plan was created last September, and for another ten years before that. This just can’t be how AT&T does business. I can't believe it's part of your corporate strategy to entice people to stay with you on family plans and then sending these unreported balances to collections. What a bungle!
Why did the sales agent not mention this prorated portion of my month to me when we started the plan? Why did Ms. Stroud not mention it to me when we had our plans adjusted last September? Why did AT&T send only one "letter" (again, unreceived by me), disable all of my apps, and make no efforts to reach me or my partner at our numbers, which have always been the same?
I am so disappointed and appalled by the total apathy bordering on rudeness from their customer service team. Ironically, my partner and I joined this family plan and stuck with AT&T out of customer loyalty, and now AT&T is damaging my family’s financial situation by reporting this negative mark on my credit. This balance would have been paid immediately if AT&T had simply contacted me or my partner at the same phone numbers we have always had.
Now, after speaking with all of these people (I can only imagine the notes on my account, based on the way your agents speak on the phone) AT&T is apparently completely unwilling to take any responsibility or do anything to help me resolve this mark on my credit. At no time did AT&T reach out to me at my number, or my partner’s number, nor did they send us any emails or alerts of any kind to notify us that there was still a balance on the account.
I am so disappointed that AT&T would treat me, as a longstanding customer, this way. Not only that, but I am also disappointed that AT&T has jeopardized my family’s financial future over an $81.12 balance that they failed to report to us.
I have already contact the collections agency as well as the credit reporting bureaus. I have spoken with Don in the collections department, "Sherrell," , Frank in the retention department, Jalanai and Aaron in the customer service department, and "Mollica," one of the social media managers. I am waiting on three calls back that I'm doubting will ever come.
I want so desperately to resolve this issue and be done with this. Please, tell me what I can do to have this taken off of my credit report. I'm currently reaching out to Senator Warren, the Federal Trade Commission, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the Department of Consumer Affairs, NY and Massachusetts state attorneys general, and Consumer Fraud Legal
Someone, please, recognize this for the inadvertent error that it is and fix it. It's an $81 balance that has been paid already, and AT&T seems willing to lose both me and my partner over what appears to be a very minor issue. I'm so confused by how this could have happened.
Thank you for your time.
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