If You Don't Keep AT&T For 60 Days,They'll Rip Out Your Wires

This guy uses a Packet8, a VoiP provider, but the reception from plugging his phone into the modem wasn’t very good, so he asks AT&T if he can hire them to install phone jacks.

They say, only with new service. He says, ok, can I cancel after that? They say, “sure.” So he does all that, including agreeing to pay them $400 for this installation, and enjoys his new phone reception. For about two hours.

Then, he hears some banging and he looks out his window to see AT&T workers ripping out all the wiring they had installed. Wiring that was now his property, on his property.

When he called to complain, customer service said it was “policy” to rip out the phone jacks if the customer doesn’t keep service for at least sixty days.

Now, while the phone company has every right to pull out the cords from the junction box, which they own, when the complainant had another contractor come in to fix the work, it turned out the AT&T techs had also butchered the wiring and jacks located in the customer’s crawlspace.

The customer said he called several electricians and every one he called said that they didn’t perform that kind of work and only AT&T did. The customer uploaded and linked to his service contracts and there doesn’t appear to be any kind of “60 day ripout” clause.

What a jerk move on AT&T’s part. If we were this guy, we would definitely file a complaint with the state public utilities commission.

AT&T trespasses on customer property, rips out wiring, says “we’ll do it again” [Free Advice] (Thanks to JU Dolphins!)
(Photo: Theerin)

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  1. Coder4Life says:

    Uh this just sounds like a case of stupidity on the customers side.

    Why the hell wouldn’t you call an electrician to do the job. He probalby got what he deserved.

    Don’t hire a plumber to fix your roof, it just doesn’t work out too well..

  2. Uriel says:

    why stop at a complaint? Why not a lawsuit to put those assholes in their places?

    • Obama says:

      LOL> You can’t put AT&T in their place. They are too big. You will jsut waste your hard earned cash doing this. It simply would not be cost effective nor would it be worth your time.

      AT&T is the worst company ever and they have been so for ever since I can remember. I no longer own any AT&T products/services, nor will I ever again.

  3. Mr. Chip says:

    Comcast did this to me a few years ago. I got sick of their lousy digital picture quality and switched to DirecTV, and the installer re-used some of the wiring that Comcast had left on the side of my house to wire the front bedroom. A week later the front bedroom went out for no reason. I checked outside, and Comcast had just removed the junction connector that linked the wire to the front bedroom, even though it was clear we weren’t stealing cable because their empty link from the pole outside was right next to it.

    I bought a bridge and spliced it in, and a week later the front bedroom went out again! I checked and this time they had cut a huge chunk out of the wire, including my replacement bridge and both connectors on the wire.

    I called Comcast customer service and they said that they didn’t do it, because it’s not their policy to change anything with the wiring on non-customer’s houses, but if they had done it there was nothing wrong with it because “they owned the wires on the side of my house, not me.” I told them that if it was their wire, I wanted them at my house tomorrow to tear it all off the side of the house, because I would never be their customer again for the rest of my life. The CSR laughed and hung up on me.

    I went outside with a ladder and cut them off the house back up to the pole (Island community, so burying cable doesn’t really work in this town). Bastards.

  4. NickRB says:

    let me see if I understand this. The customer gets AT&T to install phone jacks for free by signing up for service he knows he is going to cancel and he’s upset they took the jacks back out? It’s a jerk move on the customers part. If he wanted jacks installed he should have paid the cost to hire an electrician to do it. Even if he paid ATT for it, it was at a discounted rate due to the reasonable expectation that he was going to become an ATT customer.

    Now, if they damaged any of the property that was there before the jacks were installed, then by all means file a complaint. If they took back the jacks without damaging his property then I am fine with that. What would have been better to do is if ATT had simply billed him the full cost of the installation. Then if he doesn’t keep the service he pays for the install. And if he doesn’t pay he gets the mark on his credit report he deserves.

    • Obama says:

      They guy had to pay them $400. Please re-read. Also, it’s not a jerk move on the customer’s part. It’s a jerk move for any company so large like this to be able to bind anyone to anything, even though the customer paid for the work anyhow.

  5. r81984 says:

    This customer was not wrong at all.
    Sure he should have just done it himself as anyone who cannot wire their own jack is pretty incompetent. It is very easy to run and install your own wires.

    ATT should get sued here, if they really wanted to prevent people from getting jacks installed and canceling they would:
    A – Charge for the jacks and after 60 days reimburse the fee into the next bill.
    B – Just charge for the jacks
    C – Make the customer sign a 60 day contract so they cannot cancel the service for the 60 days

    Since ATT did not have any of that in place its their loss, but instead they wasted more of their money in paying a tech to destroy the wiring and trespassing on the former customers property.
    Its not worth it to make your company look bad or to waste your time with a lawsuit. Nexttime ATT due either A, B, or C if you do not want people to take advantage.

  6. tazewell78 says:

    Bad news, nimrods. The wiring isn’t your property. If it were to break, would you be responsible for repairing it? Didn’t think so. Furthermore, I suspect that this was a provision in the service agreement that was signed by the customer. You are allowed to read those before you sign them…in fact, some people recommend it. Sounds like someone wanted something for nothing and got caught. Poor thing.

  7. Buran says:

    @mr_chip: Why didn’t you file trespassing charges with the police? They went onto your property to mess with your house without your permission.

  8. Buran says:

    @NickRB: No, it’s not a jerk move when it means they criminally trespassed. They had no right to trespass on his property. Their right to cut wires ends where the property line is.

  9. r81984 says:

    What makes ATT a criminal here is the guy paid them $400.00 to install the jacks.
    ATT did not do it for free.
    He paid for it and then they trespassed and destroyed them.
    He definately can do a chargeback if he used a credit card or take it to small claims, he will definately win in small claims.

    Also he should file a police report for trespassing and for the $400 in damage to his house. That tech who did that would instantly be arrested by the police for tresspassing and property damage.

  10. stopNgoBeau says:

    IF the jacks were inside the house, or anywhere past the “d-mark” then they belonged to the customer. Thats why anytime you set up new service with AT&T (formally Bellsouth here) they offered to sell you a inside protection plan in case any wires inside your residence goes bad. I would definately file charges against AT&T for damaging property owned by the resident, especially since he paid $400 for the work.

    On another not, its not difficult to run telephone wire. If the couldn’t have done it, I would have contacted an electrician, who could have definately done it correctly, and probably not for $400.

  11. stopNgoBeau says:

    @tazewell78: It most certainly is his property. None of the Bells will do any work on your line past the telephone interface panel without charging you for it. Anything leading up to his house is Bell’s property, but not the wiring past that panel. Even if it was free, once installed, its his.

  12. levenhopper says:

    I only read two people who commented on the major thing…HE PAID #400 FOR THE INSTALL JOB!

    So it’s not like ATT did it for free…

  13. Falconfire says:

    @tazewell78: actually according to the federal government nimrod, any wiring inside the house or not connected to a service most certainly IS your property.

    Even better, its YOUR property the minute you paid for it. The supposed 60 day waiting period is blatantly against FEDERAL regulations that where put in place when the cable companies used to pull the same shit.

    The only thing a service provider is allowed to cut is the connection from the street to your house. Thats why it is ALSO illegal for them to pull the “there is a signal leak” crap as well and they have been hammered hard for it in the past.

  14. allstarecho says:

    @NickRB: You apparently missed this part: So he does all that, including agreeing to pay them $400 for this installation, and enjoys his new phone reception. For about two hours.

    The customer paid $400 to them for the work. Therefore, the customer owns it. Pay more attention to the stories posted before commenting.

  15. jrdnjstn78 says:

    I know that where I live you usually can’t file any trespassing report unless you have an actual sign out saying no trespassing. I had a friend who had kids always running around his yard trying to break into his garage and the police said he couldn’t report trespassing until he had a sign on his yard.

    someone said that the wires aren’t his and if they broke would he fix them. I bet he would and he would have to pay to fix them unless he knew how to hisself.

    Laws are weird and always have loopholes. Maybe that guy should take it to his local newstation and see if they can help. They have a program here like that and most of the time the newstation always gets results for viewers that have been wronged by businesses.

  16. tadowguy says:

    I wish that the “phone company” would come and remove this annoying phallic symbol thing thats in my backyard. I havent had a land line for 3 years now.

  17. skapunk84 says:

    The annoying “phallic symbol” is a splice pedestal that feeds multiple customers; not just one residence.

    Those who have mentioned customer-owned cable beyond the demarcation point are 100% correct: past the demarc, the wiring belongs to and is maintained by the customer unless they’re under a protection plan. It’s pretty much a universal rule. If the person in question did not pay for the wiring to be done, but it came as part of the service, like some people have mistakenly assumed, then I suppose the LEC could weasel something into a contract that says “if you leave us we’ll rip out your shit!” It really wouldn’t surprise me.

    Keep in mind that most outside techs know zero about a customer’s history, so it’s unlikely the techs that pulled the wire did it out of spite. Although I’m not entirely dismissing the idea.

    AT&T is clearly in the wrong here. The customer paid to have jacks installed in their house (I’m curious how many for $400 – that’s pretty steep for one or two jacks) and AT&T ripped them out. End of story!

  18. tazewell78 says:

    @Falconfire: Nowhere does it say that the ATT people went inside his house. To wit, “Then, he hears some banging and he looks out his window to see AT&T workers ripping out all the wiring they had installed. Wiring that was now his property, on his property.” Then he mentions that ATT jacked up the wiring in his crawlspace. Sure. Prove that. The demarc for the customer prem is to the POI (point of interface) on the exterior of the residence. By law, they have the right to access that space.

    Furthermore, he didn’t pay $400 for installation of phone jacks, etc. He payed $400 for the installation as a condition of service. I suspect if we read the contract there would be language ‘justifying’ the ripout. The $400 price was probably a subsidized rate (a la wireless carriers and their devices) contingent upon a term of service. Or, in this case, not trying to rip-off the phone company.

    All you see is one poor, aggrieved customer. If that’s the case, don’t whine when your rates go up from people taking advantage of what they perceive to be a loophole.

  19. EtherealStrife says:

    He should take them to small claims over the damage to existing wiring.

    You can’t really say if the installed wiring belonged to him without a copy of the contract, which we don’t have. *cough*

  20. Falconfire says:

    @tazewell78: Anything on your house is considered “in” your house. I say again only from poll to house is the companies, and any rented equipment. Everything else is the property of the owner, thus any wiring on the outside of a house going from floor to floor crawlspace ANY of that is considered YOUR property the minute you pay for it subsidized or not.

    The only thing they could have possibly done was a contract clause making him pay more for it, if it was subsidized. But once its on your property companies need YOUR permission to enter your property to service it as long as its not the poll line. Thus them coming on the property to remove it was completely illegal.

  21. hypnotik_jello says:

    Well, obviously, if he’s the victim, he is in the wrong. I mean seriously, when was a victim ever in the right? Never! Damn victims, always blaming the corporations!

  22. Ncisfan says:

    AT&T is a bad company. who abuse their customers because there are few alternatives to their service!
    It happens all the time where i live.either people get billed for services they never signed on to,or at any time they’ll cut service to an entire street/road (one time it was close to a week my street went with out phone or Internet service) then hike the prices to sky high premiums once they get service back on.

  23. TheUpMyAssPlayers says:

    Who in the hell pays 400 dollars for jack installation! I’ve never once paid over 20 bucks, and only once years ago, for AT&T to install service.

  24. Mr. Chip says:

    @BURAN: Because I didn’t catch them in the act, I just came home one day to find that outlet in the front room was disconnected from outside the house. It could have been anyone with a pair of wire clippers and some malice toward my tv-watching abilities, not just Comcast.

    But it was Comcast.

  25. nequam says:

    This guy’s jacks got … JACKED UP!

  26. levenhopper says:

    @tazewell78: I bet he payed $400 for installation because usually when you sign up for phone service, it’s included or given for free…

  27. BenMitchell says:

    @ TAZEWELL78

    I work installing Phone/Ethernet/Cable for ComCast and I can tell you with absolute authority. That Any wires on the inside or outside of customers house is by definition their property. Only the line going to the house and the wire in the NID (Network Interface Device aka the Phone Box on the side of the House)This is the only thing the Cable/Phone companies own. If they removed ANY wiring on the outside of that mans property they are liable for the damages and replacing/repairing them.

  28. mconfoy says:

    @tazewell78:
    Bad news nimrod. You mouth off on here too much and leave your foot in your mouth so much you have athlete’s foot on your tongue.

  29. emax4 says:

    @nequam: This guy’s jacks got …jacked up!

    That’s funny! I think the last time I used the words “jacked up” was probably in grade school and referring to either muscle cars or something that got destroyed :)

    No matter who’s property the wiring belongs to, AT&T’s or the customer’s, shouldn’t the techs have left it looking the way it did before they got to the guy’s house? He paid for a professional installation, not wrecking crew. Ok, so AT&T says that they can “Rip out” the wire that they installed. Now I’m envisioning these loose wires abound, some with wire butts (caps) on them. If the person moved out and put his or her home on the market, would the real estate agent get on AT&T techs to come out and fix their own mess?

  30. emax4 says:

    @nequam: This guy’s jacks got …jacked up!

    That’s funny! I think the last time I used the words “jacked up” was probably in grade school and referring to either muscle cars or something that got destroyed :)

    No matter who’s property the wiring belongs to, AT&T’s or the customer’s, shouldn’t the techs have left it looking the way it did before they got to the guy’s house? He paid for a professional installation, not wrecking crew.

    Let’s assume that the wiring is owned by AT&T, but now they left it a mess. It’s not the customer’s job to lean up their mess, but in essence if the techs can be neglegent or sloppy, why

  31. tazewell78 says:

    @BenMitchell: Right. Anything past the NID. Inside the house. ATT owns the NID. Please see these links. (MCCONFOY, there are some with pictures for you)

    [psc.wi.gov]

    [www.scconsumer.gov]

    [www.scc.virginia.gov]

    [www.psc.mo.gov]

    [www.unitelme.com]

    [www.cheqtel.com]‘s%20my%20line.pdf

  32. supra606 says:

    Well it’s good to see that at least some of the people read the post which clearly stated he paid $400 for the installation. He should have called the cops the minute they came onto his property (if he saw them). At this point I would have someone fix the damage and then take them to small claims for the $400 plus the repair costs. This is all assuming there isn’t more to this story…

  33. SBR249 says:

    So if he paid $400 for the installation and the wires are his property now…wouldn’t that be vandalism, destruction of property, and trespassing that he could call the police for?

  34. Jerim says:

    If he was signing up for service, then he should not have had to pay the $400. I am wondering if the $400 was a discounted price or if it was a convenience fee for having someone come quickly or perhaps on the weekend. His goal was to sign up for service and then cancel; they don’t normally make customers pay for installation. Could the $400 have been a deposit on future phone bills? It just doesn’t make sense for him to pay an installation fee. I am almost certain that not every customer pays that fee.

  35. dbeahn says:

    @tazewell78: Um, nimrod? The INSIDE wiring, the wiring we’re talking about here, IS the customer’s property. That’s why phone companies (and cable companies) offer that “For $2 a month, if your wiring ever breaks, we’ll fix it for free!” plan. Doesn’t matter what service it is (cable, phone, electric, whatever), the company owns the wire running to the side of your home, and whatever is IN your home is YOURS.

    Next time, don’t be a jackass – check your facts before you post.

  36. kryllen says:

    I don’t see where he PAID $400 for the install. I see that he AGREED to pay $400 for the install. It looks like there may be some missing data from this story or timing issues.

    Suppose he really DID pay the $400, why would they come back in two hours and rip it all out? Did he call and cancel within those two hours, thus prompting them to come rip it out (possibly due to a clause in the contract he signed)?

    From the looks of it, I would guess that he AGREED to pay the $400, waited for the install, he must have cancelled the service and AT&T came and ripped out their wiring

  37. tazewell78 says:

    @dbeahn: What part of this mystifies you? “Then, he hears some banging and he looks out his window to see AT&T workers ripping out all the wiring they had installed.”

    And then he mentions the crawlspace. Maybe ATT did mess that up, maybe they didn’t. If they did, that’s bad. Since he doesn’t reference seeing them do that, I’m suspicious.

  38. tazewell78 says:

    @dbeahn: Allow me to repeat myself, “…he looks out his window…”

  39. eliog says:

    I used to work for Bellsouth as an installer about 10 years ago.

    The box outside your home (if you live in a house) is called the “demarcation point”. In this box is the point where the phone company owned wires (aka outside wires) meet with the wires you own (aka inside wires. Note they don’t physically have to be inside).

    The “outside wire” is regulated and controlled and can only be worked on by the phone company. This is their property. The “inside wire” can be installed by and worked on by anybody else. This is NEVER the phone company’s property. Think about it, there are millions of homes out there. How would they know what wires are theirs and what wires aren’t.

    If your phone line breaks and the trouble is in the outside wires it is fixed for free (unless you purposly damaged it). This is the regulated part of the phone company. When the trouble is in your inside wires then it’s your problem and you can have anyone you want, including yourself, fix it. This is the unregulated part.

    In fact, the charges on your bill are separated into 2 types. Tarrifed/regulated charges and untarrifed/unregulated charges. The regulated charges are the stuff the “monopoly” side of the company is charging you for (i.e. the phone line). The unregulated charges are the stuff the regular side of the company is charging you for (maintenance plan, installation, voice mail, …).

    This split is legally very important because: “Regulated charges are the minimum you must pay in order to maintain your local telephone service.” (taken word for word from my phone bill). That’s right, if you don’t pay them for the unregulated stuff they can’t disconnect your line.

    The distinction between unregulated / regulated is so important that it’s almost as if the phone company was really 2 companies: 1 regulated provider of phone service and 1 unregulated provider of everything else (voice mail, installation, phones, …).

    Now, having said all that. I have never seen/heard of a case where the phone company will come to your home and remove inside wiring. When you think about it, they legally can’t do this (then again, I’m no lawyer so what do I know). This would be the same as an electrician you hired coming back and ripping out the electrical outlets you hired him to install.

    I would definitely file a complaint with your state’s Public Service Commision, and I would even think about taking them to small claims court because they can’t do this. Remember, they can’t even disconnect your service if you don’t pay the installation fees for your wiring and in my opinion they CAN NOT trespass on your property and destroy YOUR wires because you canceled their service.

  40. forever_knight says:

    is this the consumerist or defend evil corporations site? what’s with you people. damn.

  41. Black Bellamy says:

    If I borrow your lawnmower and leave it out front and you trespass onto my property to retrieve your lawnmower you still have committed trespass.

    Having said that there I bet there is something in the contract that gives consent for ATT to come onto your property.

  42. eliog says:

    @kryllen: They wouldn’t come back and remove the wiring. The big part of the $400 is actually the labor not the physical wire or jacks.

    If they came back and removed it then the customer could say “I don’t owe anything, you took it away.”

    Instead, they take the stance of “We quoted you the charges. You authorized the work. We did the work. You still have to pay us for the work we did.” The canceling of the phone service is irrelevant.

  43. The Meathead says:

    @Buran: Actually, their wires end at the Network Interface, not the property’s edge.

  44. Buran says:

    @Black Bellamy: If I order you off my property at any time, however, I am revoking that consent and you must leave or the cops will escort you out if I ask them to. Consent can be revoked.

  45. Buran says:

    @The Meathead: Okay, maybe so. That still means that I can order you to get off my property which means that you must drop what you’re doing and walk onto the public sidewalk and stay there until I agree to let you return. If you don’t, you’ll be escorted off by the local police. If you refuse, you will be arrested. Try explaining that to your bosses, sabotaging phone installers!

  46. Esquire99 says:

    AT&T can legally come onto your property to remove their equipment. This is part of the easement that is attached to your deed. They are granted access to the easement through their franchise with the city. They don’t have to have permission to come onto the property to access their equipment. If the pedestal serving the area (the “phallic” symbol)is in your backyard, they have every right to access it without explicit permission. Tearing up your premise wiring (your property) is another story. Either way, as long as they were accessing their equipment in some fashion, there was no trespass.

  47. Esquire99 says:

    @Buran: What part of easement don’t you understand? They have a right to be there, a right conferred upon them by your local government. Your property easement says that the local utilities can access the property to get to equipment they own. You can’t revoke the consent given in your easement.

  48. evil_doer420 says:

    It should be illegal if its not

  49. calvinneal says:

    I am an employee of a Telecommunications company. I am confused by the allegations. This guy is saying an ATT employee went into his house (breaking and entering) ripped out all his jacks which he had paid for and left, I don’t believe any of this hokum. When you contract with any telecommunications provider for inside work past the demarc (pop) The work and all the wiring become your property by state and federal law. That is clear under the telecommunications acts, An ATT or Verizon employee stealing inside wiring from a customer would be considered a code of conduct violation and the employee would be immediately terminated. The company does own the wiring from the cross box to the demarc ( the protector on the outside of your house. Why would they rip it out!. This isn’t policy at any telecommunications provider. They will leave the wire for the next occupant. Utility easments convey no property rights to you. They are established in state and federal law. They apply to gas, sewer,electic,cable and whatever. These companies want to keep you hooked up, its costs too much to rip out wiring. The charge for jacks and inside wiring is an unregualted part of the Phone companies. The labor rates are very high to cover the costs of their union employees. Generally the work is very professional.Once the materials are in, you own them. And lastly, Att , Comcast and Verizon do not do anything in two hrs, It takes three days to change paperwork at these huge companies.Tell your lies somewhere else.

  50. skapunk84 says:

    @calvinneal:

    It doesn’t say that they went inside his house.

    “Then, he hears some banging and he looks out his window to see AT&T workers ripping out all the wiring they had installed. Wiring that was now his property, on his property.”

    The article mentions a crawlspace, so I assume it’s one under the house. In this case that would be the easiest way to install jacks: run them under the crawl space, drill a hole up and between the drywall, and feed cable through from below.

    It sounds like they crawled under the house and removed their work. You would think that whatever legal permission they have to walk onto a person’s property would stop and “crawling under their house and tearing apart their phone cabling.”

  51. easy2panic says:

    Get the police, its a lot cheaper and they are more helping.

    Trespassing and theft, get the police.

  52. BenMitchell says:

    @tazewell78:
    Umm – and I REPEAT!!! ANY WIRE BEYOND THE NID or DEMARC IS THE PROPERTY OF THE HOME OWNER. Some cable/phone runs must be run on the OUTSIDE of the house. Some have to go up to the attic on the OUTSIDE of the house. Just because it is on the OUTSIDE does not mean it is not his.