WARNING! THIS COULD HAPPEN TO YOU! I want to express my humble warning to everyone about the possibility of your cell phone provider making a mistake with your account. This happened to me recently and the fallout is still not finished. AT&T made a bad mistake with my cell phone bill and refuses to admit to, or correct any wrong doing. Let me explain…
My wife and I had been customers with AT&T since switching over to them in 2007, from Verizon. We paid our bill every month, like clockwork. We did not use all the features available to us, to save money, but our plan was adequate for what we needed it for. Our cost initially was just $99 dollars a month. Not too bad, considering we had two cell phones, rollover minutes, and texting.
Fast-forward to 2010. My wife died from Cancer. I was still paying for the phone line my wife had. I decided to let my son use the phone, since he had moved in to help me cope with my loss. After a few months went by, he mis-placed the phone (lost), so to insure myself from unidentified users of the phone, I had the line temporarily dis-connected.
In the meantime, I was struggling with debt, that was consuming every dime I could get my hands on. My household income being cut in half from my wife’s passing, was taking its toll on my finances. I was becoming like many Americans, with more debt than I had income for. I was barely able to pay the phone bill which was accurring service charges for being paid late, etc. I had always paid my cell phone bill by by paying bills online through the bank website interface. But then I started using AT&T computer assisted payment options, by calling their *729 number and using my debit card to pay bill.
My son had been unemployed from the time he moved here from New York. I was also supporting him, until he finally was employed in February of 2011. After several months, he was promoted within his company, but he was required to have a cell phone, for communicating purposes.
His birthday was coming up in June of 2011, so I decided to buy him another phone, since it was mandatory for his position at his job. Of course he had to have the latest phone available, an Iphone. I was just going to re-open the dis-connected line of service I had been paying for all these months. That was when I discovered identity thieft of this dis-connected line. That is also when my problems with AT&T really began.
This Identity thief had accured in May. I remember seeing a message on my flip-top phone that the bill had been paid. Curious I was, but not curious enough to talk to a customer representative to get details of this message. I felt it was just an insidental mistake, because I knew I had not paid the bill that was coming due very soon.
In July, we bought my son a new phone. After the brief summary that AT&T representative at the AT&T store gave, his recommendation was to (a) dis-connect the stolen phone line (someone in Massachusetts was using stolen phone line); (b) put a password onto account, so it can not be tampered with from anyone, other than myself; and (c) get a new phone number for this Iphone we just bought for my son.
We did everything the ATT rep had suggested. In August when the cell phone bill came due, I accidently let the bill lapse into being late (again). ATT turned my service off on both phones. I called ATT from my home phone requesting a reason why they turned my service off, since they had never done this to me before. They had always let me pay my bill late, adding their service charges, etc.
The ATT rep told me that I had not paid my bill for two months, May and June. I immediately went online to check my bank statement for any debits made from ATT. Sure enough, ATT was right, no debits from them were made to my bank account. I asked how this was possible, because I had a confirmation code on my cell phone that said the bill had been paid.
The ATT rep told me that the bill had been paid from an account that the payment was denied. I questioned them about what account number were they refering to, because I always used my checking account to pay this bill. They gave me an account number that the bill was paid from for May. Just the last four numbers is all they would supply me with. They gave me an account number that was neither mine, nor one that I ever knew or heard about. Then I asked them what about the June bill, and they gave me another account number, different from the May payment, again it was an account number that I never heard or knew about before.
I told them this. I told them that I never gave them those two account numbers to pay the bill from. They claimed that I told them (the computer) to pay from those two fraudulent account numbers. I disagreed with them. I told them that if they would research all my previous successful payments that they would find the bill was paid from my checking account, which has been the same account for years.
I explained that the way I pay my bill was I called their payment by phone number and talk to their computer. The computer ask you “Do you want to pay your bill from the account that you used the last time you paid your bill?” I always say “yes”. But for some unknown reason, their computer assigned my bill to be paid from an account that I did not own.This same computer paid the May bill from an account I never knew existed, then paid the June bill from a different account that, again, I never knew existed. So two months worth of bill had gone unpaid, but they never told me this until they cut my service off in August!
ATT rep told me that I must have used a friends credit card to pay my bill. I asked the lady to kindly explain to me why I would do such a thing as that, to pay my bill from someone elses account? I never had done that before, why on earth would I do that now? The ATT rep said that I told the computer to pay the bill from those two accounts for May and for June. I insisted that I did not. She called me a liar by saying that “she did not know if I did, or did not” use those fraudulent accounts. I was furious!
The ATT rep told me in order to turn the service back on, that I would have to pay the past due amount. I would also have to do this in cash, since my debit card was going to be denied from ATT, due to those two unsuccessful attempts in May and June. Again, I was furious! I asked how much was the minimum amount I could pay them to get the service turned back on, since my son had to have cell phone service for his job?
The ATT rep said a minimum amount of $198.00 dollars, plus reconnection charge, plus another charge, and another, then make payment arrangements with them on the rest of the charges. I told the rep that I did not have that much in the bank. She said to go to the ATT store and pay $150.00 now, in cash, and then make payment arrangements on the rest.
What else could I do? I told the lady, “ok”, and drove to the ATT store and paid them $150.00 cash, on friday afternoon in August. I made payment arrangements on the rest. The service was restored! The following Sunday, when I got up to get ready for church, the house phone rang, and it was my son. He told me the cell phone was turned off again! I had to count to a very high number before I called ATT back so that I would not say something nasty to the ATT rep.
I again as nicely as I could, explained the ordeal that I just went through on Friday, to get the service turned back on. The ATT rep told me, “That ATT did not agree to any payment arrangements made on Friday, and that was why the cell phone service was turned off.”
I ask them to explain why the service was turned back on Friday, if in fact ATT did not accept our agreed payment arrangements? All the rep would say is that ATT never agreed to payment arrangements, so I needed to pay an additional amount, in cash, to get service turned back on. I hung up the phone, extremely furious with ATT!
I contacted the attorney general’s office and filed a complaint. One month later, after never receiving any contact from ATT, my bill was sent to an outside collections agency! The letter I received from the attorney general was to inform me that ATT had received my complaint, and that ATT had tried in vain to contact me to clear up this case, but I had refused their contact.
Needless to say, after first being called a liar by the first ATT rep, then after talking to three supervisors later to solve the issue, then having service renewed then revoked again after an agreement had been reached, I say to hell with ATT!
I am warning anyone else that have service with ATT…This could happen to you also!