Friday, May 24, 2013

Intentional Fraud and "Bait & Switch" by AT&T Internet Services

Share! Intentional Fraud and "Bait & Switch" by AT&T Internet Services

AT&T is engaging in some "Gotcha Capitalism" and since they are lying to me, it has become a point of honor to pursue the matter. 

In these matters, if everyone just accepts their activities, then they will persist and expand their activities accordingly. Since I am well versed in Internet technology and procurement of Internet service, it falls to me to pursue this, since most people would never recognize until later, if at all, that they had been lied to. And since the amounts are relatively insignificant, there would not be a lot of will for customers to pursue the matter. If the customer is are non-technical, how could they even argue their case with AT&T, much less concisely express what transpired in such a way that would motivate AT&T to redress or compel an attorney to champion the issue? 

The good news is that most of the time devoted to writing this letter, I was stuck on hold with their company, and so otherwise incapable of performing other tasks, besides taking detailed notes about the call. 

I have drafted a "transcript" of the calls with their company to resolve the matter. I have summarized the long format, attached, here in this letter. 

At the minimum, I am lodging a complaint with the FCC and with the Ga PSC. I also think it may fall into the purview of the FTC, FBI, State Attorney General's office, and perhaps even the State House Technology Committee (sic). 

What do you recommend?

Dear FCC, FBI IC3, Georgia PSC, FTC, and Georgia House of Representatives Science &Technology Committee,

I would like to bring to your attention an instance of Intentional Fraud and "Bait & Switch" by AT&T.

The call centers are located in multiple states, so this issue will fall under the purview of Federal authorities, in addition to the State of Georgia.

They refused to reverse the transaction, or to make good on the terms they offered, and have forced me to accept something different from what I originally purchased.

I have a claim for Bait and Switch, since what I purchased is not what I was told I was buying.

I was not allowed to return the product to restore myself before they misrepresented the purchase. 

This amounts to intentional fraud and misrepresentation.

Claim Summary : 
I was sold an upgrade to my existing aDSL line from 1.5mbs to 6.0mbs for an additional $10 per month on my statement.The account had not been modified since  since 2005 or 2006.
AT&T changed the amount such that the actual increase was $25 per month higher.

There had been an ongoing $15 credit applied monthly to my Internet billing. This had been offered as an incentive to win my business from Earthlink. This discount did not have an expiration.

After receipt of the next monthly bill,  I discovered the $15 monthly credit was removed from the account during the upgrade.

Then, AT&T used intimidation and threatened to bill me retroactively for the $15 monthly credit  since they argued there should never have been an ongoing discount with no expiry.

I offered two forms of resolution. They could either restore my account to it's status prior to the change, or they could honor the bargain I was told during the sale, that the discount would continue as it had done. They refused both alternatives.

Ultimately, AT&T did replace a $15 monthly credit to the account, but this $15 monthly credit will expire 12 months from the date of the call with AT&T. The original $15 monthly credit did not expire. These are very different discounts. I informed them of my intention to lodge this complaint despite this attempt, since what they are offering is not substantively what they represented at the time of sale.

On May 24th, I discovered the account was additionally limited by a 150gb per month data usage cap. Usage over 150gb/month are billed at $10 for each 50gb.

My original DSL account did not have a cap on the plan. The CSR pitched the uVerse products as an alternative to DSL. I had seen in fine print that uVerse had a data cap of 250gb. She confirmed this. She also confirmed that my DSL did NOT have a cap. Therefore, I proceeded with the upgrade transaction.

During our call with AT&T on May 24th, 2013, the company refused to remove the cap from my Internet account. They refused again to restore me to my old plan before I was intentionally duped into buying the new plan.

Full Story:  A few weeks ago on April 11th, 2013, I contacted AT&T to explore various options for my account, including the following: to increase the speed of my DSL line, remove the Landline and enable a "naked" DSL line, or simply cancel the account and move to another service provider.

Years ago, BellSouth issued a standing discount to my bill that amounts to a $15 a month discount off the DSL line. This was to win my business from Earthlink, who had botched my account so severely that they lost my business though I was Mindspring Customer #224, yeah that far back. The discount extended by BellSouth was not a limited time discount associated with a bundle or a contract. The discount has been on my account for around nearly 5 years.

During the call a few weeks ago, I was told that the discount could not be offered if I dropped the landline to select a "Naked" DSL plan. Instead, she could increase my line speed to 6.0 for an additional $10 per month on my plan, implying the discount would remain, since normally the increase should $25 per month for the enhanced services I was purchasing.

Last night, I received the latest bill since the changes were made. The bill was dramatically higher. The DSL portion of the bill increased by approximately $25. Upon closer scrutiny, I noticed that the Discount had been removed.

This afternoon, Today, May 6, 2013, I contacted AT&T to address the discrepancy with my billing where upon I reached with Joy in the Chicago business office. She stated the Customer Retention department extended the offer and made the changes, so they would have to service my inquiry. She dropped the call in an attempt to transfer me, after 15 minutes on hold.

I called back, and started the process from scratch with  Miss Johnson in Nashville TN who is in the Customer Relations Department. She stated thatAT&T no longer offers these bundle discounts. Furthermore, the discount I was enjoying was for only for a limited time.

I stated this was not the case and that the discount had been on my account for several years, and was not associated with a bundle, package, or limited in any way in terms of duration, nor has it ever been renewed, since it never expired.

She then offered to restore a discount in the equivalent amount, but that it would be for a limited time. I then replied that I would like my account restored in terms of the plan and the discounts to how it was configured before their department changed it a few weeks ago.

She denied this possibility, stating that she could not honor what had been offered since the original discount had expired. I explained again, that the discount had no expiry, and was in full force and effect when I called a few weeks ago and approved the upgrade to a faster line for $10 more per month. I also indicated that at this point I would need to draft a complaint to the FCC for Slamming and Misrepresentation. She then put me on hold for 33 minutes while she sought the authority of a person in "Leadership", which must be a new corporate euphemism for her manager or supervisor.

After around 30 minutes on hold awaiting someone from a HIgher Authority to intervene, she came back and said, "If I had a way I would it but I can't restore your account to the way it was. That discount should only have endured for 6 months.  But, we are not going to go back and charge you for all that time you should not have the discount." Not only was the discount not limited to a specific time frame as she alleges, but she also applied intimidation by saying they could go back and bill me for all that time, but they are going to be nice and not go back and do so, which is how I heard it when she said "we are not going to go back and charge you for all that time you should not have the discount.".

Over the past several years since the discount has been applied, I have had several instances of contact with BellSouth and AT&T to revisit my services and review any new offerings they may have available. At no point was I told that the discount had an expiration. I was told on multiple occasions that if I made changes to the account the discount would end, and therefore I refrained from taking any upgrades. However, when I approved the upgrade changes a few weeks ago, I did confirm with AT&T that the discount would persist on my account as it always had.

Heather Team Lead Customer Relations Nashville joined the call after 33 minutes of hold time. I read this entire letter to her. She offered to apply a credit for the discount to my bill, but 'the discount would expire after 12 months and that I would need to sign a contract with them to even get the discount.'

I replied saying that "This is not all acceptable. I was offered a enhanced DSL service for $10 more a month. I made sure the representative was aware of the nature of the standing discount, and that I did not want to change the account if the discount would end. Furthermore, she agreed to this discussion, and never made any mention of the discount going away, an expiration date applying to the discount, or that I would need a contract to enjoy the discount.All that was said was that I would have my DSL line speed to 6.0 for an additional $10 per month. If you are unable to honor what your company represented, then I will have to proceed with the complaints, as well as publishing this complaint via Social Media to a wide and public audience, since this amount to lying to your customers, and perhaps could be classified as Slamming, since we are being placed into a new and more expensive plan without agreeing to the terms that were originally offered to us."

She then had to get DSL Rentention to go to work re-establishing the discount. This portion of the call took another _____. She would come back with periodic updates, one of which was that the DSL team was being blocked by their own system from re-establishing the discount, and they were seeking out their Team Lead to proceed past that point.

Ultimately, they claimed to be unable to honor the deal that was originally offered, a DSL line speed increase for $10 additional to my account without an expiration to the discount or a contract.

Team Lead Heather eventually gave me a $46.40 credit to offset the removed discounts back to the time of the change to my account, a 50% line discount with no contract for six months, and an $8 per month discount to my land line for twelve months.

I said that while this is a step in the right direction, this remedy neither restores me to where I was before the changes were made to my account, nor provide me the terms of the agreement that were made when I was sold the upgraded service. So in either case, I told her that I accept these for the time being, but they do not constitute a conclusion to the claim I am making.

The entire call lasted around two hours.

Fri May 24th 2013: In regards to an email notification that I had exceeded my 150GB data cap, I contacted AT&T Billing at 1-800-288-2020. I reached a CSR named Termina, and recounted the entirety of this letter, and inquired as to why I was never informed a data cap would be placed on my account when I switch to the 6.0 DSL. She was cordial and helpful, but otherwise unable to personally resolve this issue. Hitherto, my prior 1.5 DSL plan did not have a data cap. She put me in touch with the Technical Department, but the Tech CSR dropped the call. Termina was still on the line, and shared that the Tech CSR had expressed a negative attitude and was otherwise unwilling to help, and was therefore not surprised that the call was dropped, and that she would reach a Supervisor in the Technical Support department.

After several minutes, Tech Support Supervisor Abiyah took over the call. I had to recount the entirety of the story. I discovered that AT&T began placing data caps on new DSL lines,s he was unsure of the exact time frame, somewhere between 12-24 months ago.  Therefore she unable to change the status of the account and remove the cap. We did discuss the possibility that account be notated that the customer should be credited for overages if I were to call in and request. But, that annotation would only appear on the Tech Support view of my account, and not on the billing department's view. Therefore, she had to bring the Billing Department on the line in a conference call to proceed with the issue.

#Atlanta #AT&T, #bellsouth #charter #CLEC #telco #comcast, #earthlink #FBI #FCC  #FTC #georgia #internet #ISP #sprint #telephone #verizon #Slamming #Fraud #Fail #folllowmefridaydontsaymaybe

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