After some frustration, several phone calls and a long time listening to more commercials while being on hold, I managed to get the erroneous $175 termination fee on my AT&T phone bill waived. Here’s how I did it.
What Happened to My Bill
Many cell phone companies ask for a commitment in exchange for free phones (or cash rebates). Some are 1 year contracts, while others are multi-year ones. I signed up for a 2 year contract a few years ago, which I do regularly as I switch from carrier to carrier to take advantage of all the cash rebates that many companies offer. For a long time, everything was fine and dandy.
Several weeks ago, I switched my cell phone provider to take advantage of a $350 cash rebate. To make sure that my contract was up, I called AT&T and was told that my contract was up. I then went ahead to cancel my service and switched over.
While I was away on my trip a few days later, my wife receives an AT&T bill and to her surprise, there was a $175 of termination fee. She tried to call AT&T but they just wouldn’t listen. Over and over, all she heard was:
We’re sorry. Since your contract isn’t up until July, 2009, there is nothing we can do
What I Did to Get My Money Back
I fully understand that contracts needs to be honored, but when I called beforehand and was told that my contract is up, I expect the information to be correct.
I called again, and after talking to first representative, she echoed the same thing, and also told me that I signed my contract last year (which wasn’t true). When I asked to speak to the manager, she got upset and tried to say no but when I asked again, she put me on hold for a while, then picked up the phone again and just hung up.
I called again of course. This time, someone more reasonable came on. I explained my situation, and mentioned that if someone told me the contract was up in July, it wouldn’t make sense for me to even cancel two months beforehand because the monthly charges wouldn’t even be $175. The representative agreed, but said he couldn’t do anything. He suggested to be transferred to the manager, and then I explained everything all over again. She checked into the system for call records and notes other representatives made, and told me that yes, it was their error and they will credit me.
What I Learned and How You Can Dispute Errors on Your Bills
Of course, if you made a mistake and was charged a fee, there is nothing you can do. However, when there are legitimate reasons why there’s something on the bill that shouldn’t be on there, here are some tips that might help save you money.
- Persistence Pays Off – Before you even call, you need to figure out whether your request is reasonable. If it is, then don’t take no for an answer. If we just gave up after my wife called, we would be $175 short. If I gave up after I called the first time, we would still have to pay $175. When reason is on your side, don’t be afraid to explain it again and again.
- Always Log Your Calls – One thing we haven’t done is write down when we called, as well as the person’s name on the other end. If AT&T didn’t have logs of when I first called to ask about my contract several weeks ago, I doubt they will believe me when I told them that I was given erroneous information that led to the charge.
- Be Calm but Assertive – Most of the time when we are calling customer support, we are upset about the service. However, remember that the people on the other side of the line is here to help you. Without him/her, you will get no where.
- Don’t be Discouraged by Bad Reps – When the first representative hung up on me, I was ready to write the whole company off. I couldn’t believe that AT&T representatives would tell me my contract was up when it wasn’t. Then charge me a termination fee, then get upset when I ask to speak to a manager and hang up on me. After I calmed down, I realized that just like every other company, there are good and bad employees. Just because one representative is unreasonable doesn’t mean everyone will be. I then called again and luckily, the person I spoke with next was much more reasonable and logical.
- Be Reasonable – I’ve said this a few times and I will say it again. The reason why you are calling must be logical. If you screwed up, then don’t call trying to get your money back. However, if your request is reasonable, then you have every right to not be charged. It can be done as I’ve shown. Good luck.