AT&T Threatening Collections after Chargeback. What would you do?

Discussion in 'Credit Talk' started by JoshuaHeckathorn, Feb 18, 2016.

  1. JoshuaHeckathorn

    JoshuaHeckathorn Administrator

    I decided to switch cell-phone providers from AT&T to Verizon. Before I made the switch, I called up AT&T and asked if they prorate cell phone charges for the month in which service is terminated. They said yes.

    I then proceeded to make the switch even though I was at the beginning of a new monthly billing cycle with AT&T. In the end they still ended up charging my credit card for the entire month, and when I called back they said I was given incorrect information. I must pay for the full month, regardless of whether I used the service or not.

    I disputed the charge through my credit card provider, provided the necessary documentation, and they initiated a chargeback. AT&T then started sending me nasty letters threatening to send me to collections and claiming that the debt is still outstanding regardless of the chargeback.

    What would you do? I have great credit and don't want to risk having a collection show up on my credit reports. My initial thought is that this totally sucks, but I might just have to pay and move on with life.
  2. jam237

    jam237 Well-Known Member

    Ok, I will preface this by saying that I am more aggressive than they are... :) (Just read a few of my posts, and you'll probably get that impression. :) )

    So if a company that I had a dispute with, was threatening to go to collections, I would give it to them worse than they could possibly even think that they could do to me.

    Are any of the previous communications in writing? (If not, you can still memorialize the conversation; and I would go to the lengths of doing a COMPLETE AND COMPREHENSIVE MEMORIALIZATION. i.e. write as long as a novel as you can; specify every reason for your decision to switch from them, every conversation that you've had with their employees, etc.)

    Even if they ignore this memorialization, you've now put it on the record. If they reply in a way that I'm not happy with; I will warn them that any additional collection activity on the disputed balance, would be in violation of the Fair Credit Billing Act.

    IF they farm the account out to a collection agency, I would IMMEDIATELY fax them a letter that they are getting in the middle of a dispute that will be ending up in Federal Court, and they've added their own Fair Debt Collection Practices Act violations for misrepresenting the amount, character, and legal status of the debt, Fair Credit Reporting Act violations for willfully and knowingly reporting inaccurate, incomplete, and unverifiable information, should they decide to report the false account on my credit reports, to the Fair Credit Billing Act charges that you will be pursuing against the OC.

    IF they farm the account out to another CA, I would IMMEDIATELY fax them a letter that they are getting in the middle of a dispute that will be ending up in Federal Court, and they've added their own Fair Debt Collection Practices Act violations for continued collection activity, the false and misleading representation that the assigning of the account to another party subjects the consumer to activity prohibited by the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act and misrepresenting the amount, character and legal status of the debt, Fair Credit Reporting Act violations for willfully and knowingly reporting inaccurate, incomplete, and unverifiable information, should they decide to report the false account on my credit reports, to the Fair Credit Billing Act charges that you will be pursuing against the OC.

    That is what I would do... :)
  3. mijd

    mijd Well-Known Member

    Good answer Jam, but is it really worth the hassle and threat to your CR? I contracted with Verizon for a fios internet and TV service bundle through one of their authorized retailers. It was a no contract bundle and to be "ahead of the game", I downloaded and printed their "Terms and Agreement." In the end they had to install new wiring and instead of going the shortest distance from the street box to the box in my home, they outlined my entire lawn and even dug through a flower bed and cut through a sprinkler line. I immediately cancelled service after two days and invoked their MBG clause in the contract. I was credited the entire month minus a weeks worth of service. I complained to every dept at Verizon, including Tech support and the installation. Billing sent invoices and after months threatened me with collections and to report to all three CBs. I read to each CSR word for word from their "terms" concerning their MBG and they still wouldn't budge. Just ended up paying and chalked it up to lesson learned. I'll never do business with Verizon in the future and I'm sure Verizon could careless. Sometimes it's better just to move on.
  4. JoshuaHeckathorn

    JoshuaHeckathorn Administrator

    You both make excellent points. We are talking about $160 here, and I've already spent WAY too much time talking with many different people both at AT&T and my credit card company. I'm running thin on patience I guess, so I'm still waffling if it's worth all my time and the risk to my credit reports in order to fight this..

    I do have the previous communications in writing though. I chatted online with AT&T CSRs and then saved the online chats in addition to the phone calls. I probably confirmed with 4 different CSRs that they would prorate my bill in the month that I terminated service. I've provided the documentation to AT&T, and they just claim the CSRs gave incorrect information regarding their protocols for these types of situations.

    It's infuriating to me that AT&T can even get away with charging customers for data and voice service that isn't used after a contract is ended within their guidelines. I would love to see how much money they make in a year off of people who switch to a new carrier and get stuck with still paying AT&T's full charge for the month. It's got to be a large sum of $$$$$!
  5. mijd

    mijd Well-Known Member

    JH, I certainly feel your pain and frustration. I read word for word to 3 different Verizon CSRs that all "payments for service from the beginning of service would be credited" upon return of any equipment belonging to Verizon regardless of reasoning. This was part of their MBG. I even sent their equipment back with delivery confirmation so the company couldn't claim they never received their router. Still they wouldn't budge.

    With Directv I opted for their equipment replacement policy for $7.99 per month. After 15 months, my DVR stopped working and it was replaced no charge as part of their replacement policy. I cancelled service at the end of my contract period. Directv said I still had 15 months left, that my DVR replacement was considered an upgrade which restarted my contract. By shear luck I spoke to an ex employee who gave me a CSR number to call. Directv apologized for the mistake. I was ready to shell out $200 if I had to just to end my relationship with them. Sometime crossing all "t's" and dotting all "i's" is not enough for these contract companies.
  6. jam237

    jam237 Well-Known Member

    I would argue that whether it was "wrong information", they entered into a binding agreement with you to prorate the service at cancelation, and you acted upon that binding agreement.

    IF they need to do retraining of their employees on their protocols, they can, but it'll cost them $160.

    But if they choose to pursue it, it'll cost them a whole lot more than the $160.

    Have you tried contacting the executive offices (and working your way down). Sometimes going all the way up to the executive offices, then being connected to the highest level of staff from them, can cut through some of the crap.

    I tend to look at it the other way around, I'm calling their toll-free number, they're losing $0.10 a minute talking to me, when the CSR's salary, the manager's salary, and the executive office staff's salary gets added into the equation, my goal is to make it clear that I don't care if I have to keep them on the line 24/7/365 (and reconnect every time that I get disconnected), so that it runs up their costs so that they get just as frustrated about it, and want to be done with it, no matter what; then to ever hear my voice again.

    mijd, I find that the deterrent of them fearing not only not being able to collect the money, but potentially having to write multiple checks for $1,000 or more, can be a very effective negotiation strategy. :)
  7. JoshuaHeckathorn

    JoshuaHeckathorn Administrator

    I like your style jam. It does take a lot of time and persistence though! And I agree, I've argued over and over again that I don't really care if their CSRs gave me wrong information, the bottom line is I had at least 3 people give me that information (even in written format) and I made my decision based upon what they told me. Grrrrrrrr....

    I'll see if I can get through to the AT&T executive offices somehow. I haven't had success with that yet.

    mijd- thanks for sharing your experience with DirecTV. I absolutely detest those types of contracts that "secretly" renew based upon equipment replacement or something totally bogus. Glad to hear you were able to get out relatively unscathed though. I'm sure many don't.
  8. jam237

    jam237 Well-Known Member

    Josh, I wonder how many of my adversaries like (or loathe) my style. :)

    Especially the ones that you have in writing, that is a WRITTEN CONTRACT, and you performed based on that WRITTEN CONTRACT, and they are in violation of that WRITTEN CONTRACT. If the CSRs don't have the authority to make those binding claims, then they shouldn't be allowed to print something that's binding.

    Oh, and it also requires a sadistic streak... :) I've sent 10 pound letters to arrive guaranteed delivery, and RESTRICTED delivery by the end of day Friday, if I want to ruin their weekend, or bright and early Monday morning, if I really want to start their week off with a bang. :) I could visualize the loud THUMP that it made on their desk when the postman dropped it on their desk. (And I had about 5 people at the same company that were getting the same gift, at the same time.)
  9. JoshuaHeckathorn

    JoshuaHeckathorn Administrator

    Well, when I say "written", what I really mean is that I had online chat conversations with CSRs regarding my question. I then saved those chats and printed them out, and that's the written proof that I was speaking of. They didn't actually send me any official letters. Still, I think the fact that I received the same answer from several CSRs (verbally and in written format) proves that I made a reasonable effort to get the info. I needed and then made my decision based upon that info. Then they jacked me over and just tried to claim that the CSRs didn't know what they were talking about. Frustrating! Cell phone companies and cable tv companies are the worst.

    10 lb letters? That's a lot paper man...hahaha. What else do you put in there? :)
  10. jam237

    jam237 Well-Known Member

    Oh, my first few dozen lawsuits were novels... :)

    I think one of my first, listed like 72 counts. :)
  11. JoshuaHeckathorn

    JoshuaHeckathorn Administrator

    72 counts? Wow, that's impressive!
  12. jam237

    jam237 Well-Known Member

    Some presidential candidates can't even count that high... :)
  13. JoshuaHeckathorn

    JoshuaHeckathorn Administrator

    Sadly, you may actually be right. God help us all....

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