Some AT&T customers say the carrier ripped them off when they used a promo to buy a new phone

Some AT&T subscribers have been complaining about some of the carrier’s promotions that didn’t deliver what was promised. According to ConsumerAffairs, a mother and her adult daughter from Kentucky saw an advertisement for an AT&T promo that caught their attention. The ad mentioned that AT&T would give out a free iPhone with a trade-in.
Since they both already had an account with the nation’s third-largest wireless provider and were happy with the company, they saw no reason why they shouldn’t take the firm up on its offer. The daughter was checking out her AT&T account on the carrier’s website when she clicked on the “upgrade” button. A headline appeared on the screen that said, “$0 w/ Trade. Apple iPhone 13 Pro.”

AT&T accused of fraud when it comes to some of its promotions

Intrigued, the daughter noted that the price of  “$27.70/month”  was crossed out and replaced with “As low as $0.00/month” in a larger bolder type. Some small print followed that said “with eligible trade-in and added “Requires 0% APR 36-mo. Agmt (agreement) and svc (service). Well-qual(ified]) customers only. See price details.”

And since the image on the ad happened to be of her current phone, she assumed that her phone was eligible for the trade-in deal. “AT&T knows what phone I have, so I assumed mine was eligible,” she said. But when the pair went into the AT&T Store to do the deal, it turned out that the daughter’s current handset was not eligible for the trade-in deal.

An AT&T spokesperson said, “We have multiple trade-in promotions, and the offer details for each are defined on our website and made available at the time of purchase. The amount of money a customer is credited for an eligible trade-in depends on the type and condition of the device.”
The mother and daughter weren’t the only AT&T customers to complain. An AT&T customer named Manjula said on ConsumersAffairs, “They lied to me that if I trade in my phone for a new iPhone 12 Pro that I will get $700 off and I should only pay $400 remaining and can pay it off after 3 months. Now they are telling me if I want to pay off my phone I should pay $1,000. Fraud. Don’t fall for it.”

Another couple, Carolina and her husband took AT&T up on a BOGO offer. The salesman said that the initial bill wouldn’t reflect the BOGO deal and that it would take two billing cycles before a revised invoice would be received. There is nothing strange about that and most carrier deals don’t show up on an invoice until the third billing cycle. But months went by and the couple continued to get billed for two phones instead of one as per the BOGO deal.

Carolina told ConsumerAffairs “We kept calling and calling, we kept visiting the store, and [the store’s reps] kept saying ‘just to wait’ for the charges to adjust eventually on our bill.” After a year went by with no change to the couple’s monthly invoices, Carolina was stunned to hear that AT&T would not reimburse after she continued to pay for the phone that she was supposed to get for free.

Post your complaints about on social media if you’re looking for justice

Carolina explains the rest of the story, “The store manager had the audacity to tell us that he acknowledged that they owed us $750, but that this issue was ‘over 12 months old’ and because of that small detail, THAT was the reason why they were not going to refund us what was owed to us. … This is a scam and fraud by AT&T. To drag the issue long enough to make sure customers don’t get refunded what is owed to them.”

Dr. Eunkyu Lee, Associate Dean for Global Initiatives and Professor of Marketing at Syracuse University, advises consumers to pay close attention and “think about if a deal is worth the effort.” Considering that some of the deals result in a free phone, we’d say that such deals are indeed worth the effort. Dr. Lee suggests that if you feel that you’ve been ripped off by a carrier, make your voice heard on social media.

“If (a consumer) believes (a promotion) is deceptive, they can make their voice heard and the company might try to resolve the issue in a positive way,” Dr. Lee said. As an example, on AT&T’s Facebook page, a post made by a disgruntled AT&T customer received 2,600 comments and 46 shares. That was enough exposure for an AT&T representative to step in. “That’s not the experience we want you to have. Please meet us in a PM [private message], so we can talk things out,” the rep commented.

As ConsumerAffairs notes, this kind of “let’s fix this” attitude was seen on most of the carrier’s remaining responses to customer complaints on its Facebook page.

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