AT&T: Phone Stolen? You're Still Responsible For The $450 In Soft Core Porn Downloads

Tiffany’s cellphone was stolen right before she got on a chartered sailboat for a week of vacation. When she got back, AT&T told her she was responsible for the entire week of soft core porn downloading that the thief had enjoyed during the time she was away.

Most consumers don’t know that they will be held responsible for charges made if their phones are stolen—they think its like a credit card with fraud protection. It isn’t.

AT&T doesn’t care that Tiffany was on a sailboat and had no way of calling to report her phone stolen. AT&T doesn’t care that she’s never downloaded soft core porn before. The most they’ll do is knock the $450 bill down to $300, a move that irratated Tiffany even more because, “she was completely adamant for the entire hour before that they couldn’t take one cent off. Now I know that this is a lie and they can waive charges if they want to. “

Sure they can, Tiffany, but good luck getting them to do it. Regular readers of the blog will remember Wendy Nguyen. Wendy’s cellphone was stolen shortly before she left on vacation. When she got back, she found a $26,000 bill waiting for her. Cingular told her she was responsible for the charges… and then suggested she file for bankruptcy.

Tiffany writes:

Hi there

So I go on vacation to the Virgin Islands to charter a sailboat and sail for a week. It turns out some douche bag stole my cell phone on St John before I even get on the boat. Since I am in the middle of the Caribbean in the British Virgin Islands on a boat, I can’t call AT&T to suspend the phone. I call them as soon as I return to the states and suspend the phone. Then, I get the bill for June. The phone was stolen at 6pm June 29 and the jerk that took my phone made calls to Dominica and downloaded a bunch of porn to watch on my RAZR – in fact he downloaded $200 worth of stuff in two days! Now I get worried, as the jag had the phone for 7 days before I was able to call it in, but I can’t see my July bill online yet.

I call customer service and find out that all said, the ass racked up over $450 in download charges. He downloaded movies like “Pillow Fight Girls 3″ and “Miami Nights: Singles in Heat.” I didn’t even know the AT&T Mall sold stuff like that to download to your phone? What kind of idiot downloads soft core porn to watch on the tiny RAZR screen??? I explain to customer service what happened and fully expected to have the obvious fraudulent charges waived. Guess again. They tell me that their policy is that I am liable for all the charges. I find this an incredibly stupid policy. Shouldn’t it be handled like a fraudulent credit card transaction? If the same thing happens with a credit card, you may be liable for up to a certain amount, but that’s all. Not with the fraud committed with my phone. According to “The New” AT&T – it’s all on me!

I stay on with the CSR for quite awhile to plead my case, but she stands firm that they are very sorry, but that is the policy. I tell her calmly that I want someone to acknowledge that it is a policy that shows they have no interest in protecting their customers from fraud. I ask: What if they guy charges $5,000 – I would still have to pay? At one point the CSR tells me that the reason they have this policy is because a lot of people go on vacation and rack up huge charges and then lie about the phone getting stolen to get out of paying. I explain that this is not what happened to me and I can prove it. I tell her to look up my last 12 years of bills and see if I ever once called the island of Dominica. Now, after 6pm on the 29th – all the calls are to Dominica! I say look at my past billing records and see if I ever once used the Direct Bill feature – on which now after the 29th there is $400 worth of charges. This is OBVIOUSLY fraud. I finally got her to admit that it did look like someone did steal my phone, but that I should have called it in. I explained again that I was on a sailboat in the British Virgin Islands, and how would I call it in from there? She said, “Didn’t anyone else on the boat have a phone?” Yes, but they don’t work in the middle of the sea! They don’t have AT&T towers erected on tiny islands in the British territories yet, you know.

So, after an hour on the phone, I get the CSR to take 1/3 off the bill, which I find even more annoying as she was completely adamant for the entire hour before that they couldn’t take one cent off. Now I know that this is a lie and they can waive charges if they want to. But, that’s all she’s willing to do, which is better than nothing at this point. So now I am supposed to be happy to pay $300 out of the original $450, even though I did not make the charges. I am not happy to do this. I ask for someone (I think they call it a Consumer Advocate) to contact me so I can officially protest the charges. I get a call on my business phone two weeks later from my advocate, Glenn Behnte, at 8pm on Friday. He leaves a number and I call him back three times but he never calls again. Some advocate!

So, now I am writing a letter to customer service to try and rectify this situation, and I am writing to you all to let people know about this super policy designed to make sure that AT&T gets their dough no matter what, and to hell with their customers. We’ll see how the letter writing campaign goes.

Tiffany

(Photo:mrbill)

Comments

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  1. markwm says:

    “AT&T: Phone Stolen? You’re Still Responsible For The $450 In Soft Corn Porn Downloads”

    Mmm… Tasty, tasty soft corn porn.

  2. SaveMeJeebus says:

    Mmmm… Now I am thinking about hot chicks rolling around in creamed corn… Thanks Consumerist!

  3. Skiffer says:

    Best typo…ever!

  4. Jaysyn was banned for: http://consumerist.com/5032912/the-subprime-meltdown-will-be-nothing-compared-to-the-prime-meltdown#c7042646 says:

    At least the typos here are entertaining!

  5. amazon says:

    What’s he doing with that corn??
    ;)

  6. donnie5 says:

    x3church.com might want to hear about how this popped up. that pun was corney

  7. ribex says:

    I was gonna let the title typo go, but it’s repeated in the article :) You know, popcorn used to be a breakfast cereal way back when people didn’t know what calories were — served with cream. Now THAT’s soft corn porn.

  8. foghat81 says:

    i like corn :)

  9. Don’t fix it! Don’t fix it!

    Didn’t someone say in that other post that you can password protect your cell phone? I can’t remember if that’s for all calls or only international calls.

  10. Jake 2600 says:

    my suggestion for Tiffany is to go to ATT with proof that she was on a boat out at sea. Have ATT look at where the calls/downloads where made from if that doesn’t fix the problem maybe it will take some more dollars off. If they’re still jerks go to small claims and cite false billing or something similar. (standard warning I am not a lawyer…etc)

  11. Meg Marco says:

    AHAHHAA. Oh god. I’m sorry.

  12. sleze69 says:

    @jake2600: It states in your contract that you are responsible for the charges until you report your phone as stolen.

  13. Buran says:

    Does she have a police report? She should provide a copy of the report, and look in her contract to see if there is anything in it about theft. Definitely consider a lawyer.

  14. Buran says:

    @sleze69: … which was addressed in the post …

  15. Buran says:

    @Rectilinear Propagation: You can set up GSM phones to require a SIM password when the phone is turned on. But if it was already on (and it probably was, even though I can’t say for sure, since people don’t turn the damn things off even in theaters) that does not help.

    Still, I did that with mine — it is better than no protection at all. And you can’t even copy the card, at least with the SIM duplication gizmos cell stores have, without this PIN. I know this because I’ve been with someone when they got a new SIM card to replace an older one with less storage capacity, and the SIM duplicator (looked like a guitar pick) prompted for the PIN first. So it will also provide some protection against phone cloning.

  16. ptkdude says:

    Was she the only person on the chartered sailboat? No one, not even the captain, had a cell phone she could borrow for 2 minutes to report the phone stolen? AT&T’s VRU handles stolen phone notifications, and cuts the service off immediately.

  17. Cornbread… nothing wrong with that.

    But seriously.. there was NO way she could contact ATT regarding her stolen phone? No ports had phone service? I hate dealing with ATT as much as anyone possibly could (I have Callvantage service at work)… but I think I can see where ATT is coming from on holding her to at least some of those charges.

  18. AlteredBeast (blaming the OP one article at a time.) says:

    What’s the point of porn on a cell phone anyway? Seems kinda hard to see it (unless she had an iPhone).

  19. rrapynot says:

    If you can afford to charter a sailboat in the Virgin Islands then you can certainly afford to just forget about a $450 billing problem.

  20. Maude Buttons says:

    I had a similar situation, only with T-Mobile, and it didn’t involve boats or sailing (I have a thing about whales).

    I left my phone on a Metro train on Friday night, didn’t realize until Sunday (because I call no one and no one calls me — I have a cell phone because I am desperate for acceptance, any kind), and called the phone in. When I got my next bill, whoever had been kind enough to find my phone also thought they deserved some kind of finders’ fee of a lot of crappy-assed rap songs. Like “Brenda Got a Baby” and something with “Sticky” in the title. My bill was over $300.

    So, I call T-Mobile to complain. And I complain to T-Mobile for over an hour. The woman kept explaining the policy, and I kept saying, “I’m not disagreeing; I’m just hoping that, as a piece of customer service, you keep this from being such an expensive lesson to me.” I argued history with the representative, too: “In the three years I’ve had the phone, have I ever downloaded anything?” She says no. “Have I ever even approached my 700 ‘Whenever’ minutes?” Again, no.

    Finally, finally, the woman transfers me to a supervisor, who says that as a once-in-a-lifetime courtesy, she will waive these charges. ONCE. But if it ever happens again, T-Mobile will never show me mercy again.

    I’m stuck with the bastards for another year. And then, I’m cutting them loose.

  21. Jaysyn was banned for: http://consumerist.com/5032912/the-subprime-meltdown-will-be-nothing-compared-to-the-prime-meltdown#c7042646 says:

    @ptkdude:

    Did you not even read the article? How about the part where they are in the middle of the Atlantic ocean?

  22. timmus says:

    What kind of idiot downloads soft core porn to watch on the tiny RAZR screen???

    Agreed… that narrows the age of the thief down to about 12-14.

  23. Raze50 says:

    @ptkdude: @AngrySicilian:
    Seriously!?! She was on a freaking boat in the middle of the ocean. It doesn’t matter if she was in a lifeboat or on a schooner. If she had been on a giant cruise ship, then maybe I could agree with you.

    I remember being a kid and watching Telly Savalas, or somebody, telling us about Traveler’s checks. Remember those? If some douche-y looking guy stole your man-purse you would be hosed. Now that we’re in the 21st century, they’ve reformulated the thought by saying, “Hey! If some douche-y looking guy steals your credit card, you don’t have to worry. Those purchases made in Dominica by the douche won’t count against you.”

    Why can’t AT&T get their sh!t together on this? How are transactions via one media any differently than another? Total bullcrap.

  24. hoosier45678 says:

    Yet another reason to go prepaid.

  25. ptkdude says:

    @Jaysyn: The phone was stolen just before boarding. They were within range of the cellular networks for at least half an hour after leaving.

  26. bedofnails says:

    This young lass obviously lacks fundamental communication and commerce skills. By accepting a 1/3′rd reduction in said bill, she is acknowledging her disputed charges as valid. Furthermore, what is she doing on the phone with a CSR for that long?

    The intelligent person would draft a letter and cc appropriate parties, enclosing proof of her extenuation circumstance (maybe even a police report from her first port of call), etc; not whine about her lack of appropriate action and thieves viewing choices.

    In the end, owning a phone and signing that contract is a responsibility. AT&T is right in that it is the contract holder’s responsibility for the where’abouts of her phone and the calls made to and from.

    It’s funny how easily “I forgot my phone somewhere” always becomes “they stole it and racked up charges!”

  27. BillyShears says:

    Far be it from me to usually take Goliath’s side on anything, but unless it was stolen literally moments before she took off on the chartered boat, she could’ve also gone online to report it stolen.

    I’m begrudgingly taking Ma Bell’s side on this one. What’s to stop me from downloading nearly a gig of porn on my 5MB data plan, and then calling and reporting the phone stolen to get around the charges?

    She’s very clear that this happened before she got on the boat. How long before is the key.

  28. theWolf says:

    So how was Pillow Fight Girls 3? Was it as good as Pillow Fight Girls 2?

  29. yg17 says:

    @Maude Buttons: So you’re phone is lost and you fail to rpeort it for 2 days and are mad at T-Mobile and are going to leave them over that? It’s your own damn fault. Same with this situation. As much as I hate AT&T, they’re correct in not waiving the charges. I highly doubt it was 100% impossible for her to report it immediately.

  30. bedofnails says:

    Moreover, only her phone is “stolen”…hmmm. Ask yourself this, when traveling out of country (when the usage of a domestic cell phone becomes handicapped by the exorbitance of cost) do you usually just carry it around seperately from your purse, bag, wallet, etc? Was she mugged for her phone?

    Not likely.

  31. bedofnails says:

    @theWolf:

    Softer.

  32. TexasScout says:

    @bedofnails:

    Personal responsibility, what a concept.

  33. Maude Buttons says:

    @YG17:

    Yes. What I was being charged for — song downloads that clearly weren’t mine — are intangibles. By that I mean, because someone used my phone to download a copy of “Brenda Got a Baby,” that doesn’t mean that no one else can now download a copy of “Brenda Got a Baby.” It also doesn’t mean that T-Mobile has to now spend money to buy more units of “Brenda Got a Baby.”

    I was completely in the wrong. I admitted to being completely in the wrong in the phone call with the customer service rep — that I should have reported the phone as missing sooner. (And yes: I lost it. No one “stole” it, so much as it was picked up from where I left it.)

    What bothered me was how, with all the information that T-Mobile had on me as a customer, they couldn’t see that (a) these song downloads were not something I would do; and that (b) waiving the charges is a nice, customer-servicey thing to do.

  34. @Raze50: I would panic the second I thought my phone was MIA. You can spot me in the grocery store sometime franticly padding down my pockets until I realize the phone is in a different pocket than normal for some reason.

    Don’t go sailing across the world until the company is notified of your phone being lost/stolen.

    If you fail to notify CC companies in a reasonable period of time, you ARE liable for those charges. Take a look at your contracts there too.


    @bedofnails: and Agreed.

  35. Macroy says:

    I’m surprised the AT&T Mall has $450 worth of softcore porn.

  36. KIRZEN2007 says:

    Having worked for a short period at AT&T, she’s lucky that she got a single cent taken off of her bill, and honestly, as a previous CSR I wouldn’t have taken a single cent off myself in the place of the person she managed to bully into providing credit.

    Honestly, this report stinks.

    I’m one of the very last people you’ll find defending AT&T, but its pathetic that she couldn’t contact someone to report the phone stolen, I find it strange that she either wouldn’t notice the phone was stolen until after leaving port, and I can almost -assure- you that there is a phone line or internet connection somewhere on that cruise ship.

    Whether or not you have reception, on a cruise of this nature I highly doubt that a cruise employee couldn’t get you in touch with AT&T. They must have some method of communication, and I’ll wager that they have phones and that she was either too lazy to look up the 1-800 number for AT&T or simply felt that it wasn’t her responsibility to take care of it immeadiately.

  37. acambras says:

    I bet that even gigantic titties look really small on a Razr screen.

  38. But if it was already on…that does not help.

    @Buran: Ah, ok. Thanks

    @Consumerist: AWW! It was FUNNY!

  39. ahdn says:

    I encountered the same policy at T-Mobile just last week. I accidentally left my phone on my desk at work one night and found it gone the next morning (I work in a supposedly high-security building). I didn’t jump to any conclusions about theft; I knew it had been ringing off the hook because people were looking for me, so I thought it a fair possibility that an annoyed coworker had maybe picked it up and turned it off. I sent a mass e-mail to the office enquiring after my phone’s whereabouts, but also kept a close eye on my call log throughout the day via T-Mobile’s website. Around 3:00, suddenly 4 calls appear that were made to the same number in Mexico City. I called T-Mobile right away to report it as theft and found that they were still going to hold me responsible for the $25 in charges that were obviously not mine. The very friendly T-Mobile rep told me to be grateful that they only called Mexico, since rates were relatively low. Nice.

  40. JustAGuy2 says:

    @Raze50:

    Frankly, I call shenanigans. I’ve been cruising in the BVIs, and you’re RARELY out of cell coverage, except maybe on the run out to Anagada. Certainly, the vast majority of anchorages have coverage, so she could have called in within a day or two, at most. She didn’t want to be bothered to call in, so I fail to see how AT&T should have to eat the cost.

  41. geek22 says:

    I’ve seen so many similar stories about stolen cellphones and exorbitant charges. Why don’t cellphone companies provide a simple solution whereby users can set the max dollar amount per month after which there account will be disabled until user calls in and overrides after verifying his identity.

    Or use prepaid accounts as someone suggested. I have t-mobile to go and $0.10 per minute is perfect for my needs and I cant lose more than $100 if the phone is lost or stolen.

  42. JustIcedCoffee says:

    one word, or three, whatever
    Ship-To-Shore

  43. RumorsDaily says:

    If you know your phone (or ATM or credit card or whatever) is stolen, you SHOULD report it to avoid this kind of thing. It’s not like AT&T knows it was stolen if you don’t say anything. Why should they be on the hook because the user was too busy sailing to bother informing them that someone was misusing the service. At some point, someone has to pay for this use, it’s either going to be AT&T or the consumer… it seems here that splitting the damages is a somewhat reasonable solution.

  44. jimconsumer says:

    Tiffany, here’s your solution: Call back. You’ll get a different CSR. Calmly explain the situation. If they refuse to help, thank them for their time, hang up, then immediately call back. Repeat the routine until they fix it.

    Don’t think this will work? Citibank screwed my account up and charged me over $1,500 in interest at 36% due to their mistake. They agreed to put my interest rate back where it belonged but refused to credit the $1,500. I spent over an hour on the phone begging, pleading, then finally threatening a supervisor with no luck. She insisted they had a policy and they “do not, ever” credit interest. I told her I’d declare bankruptcy and stick them for the entire $20k balance if she didn’t fix this. She told me to go right ahead and do so.

    On a hunch, I called back a week later (after filing complaints with the BBB, state attorney generals, etc). I played it off as if this was my first call, started from scratch, explained the situation. CSR this time said, “We’re so sorry for the mistake. I’ll credit this right away.”

    AT&T will do the same thing, I can all but guarantee it. Don’t work through their chain of command, just keeping calling until someone does the right thing. I got AT&T to sell me a new Razr at the same price new customers would pay (they had a “deal” that wasn’t valid for existing customers, even if I signed a new contract – I wasn’t under contract at the time); I called 4 different times, first 3 reps gave me 3 different reasons why they could not do it. 4th rep said, “Sure, not a problem.”

  45. yg17 says:

    @Maude Buttons: Doesn’t matter if it’s intangible or not. T-Mobile still has to pay licensing fees and royalties to the artist and record company, and as we all know from reading the Consumerist, the RIAA and it’s record companies are greedy bastards. I doubt much of the money you pay for a song ends up in their pocket.

  46. balthisar says:

    She’s obviously in the wrong. But… it would be nice for a customer service gesture for AT&T to waive the fee. But… only to the point that it costs them nothing. Minutes used off of the AT&T network are charged back to AT&T, i.e., AT&T are responsible to pay “Virgin Islands Mobile” for the airtime used, so I can tend to understand their unwillingness to completely erase the charges.

    In any case, if you lose your wallet and some creep spends all your cash, should your employer be on the hook for the cash because they’re the ones who provide the money?

  47. Hawk07 says:

    @geek22:

    That’s exactly what I was thinking.

    I made $700 in purchases one Sunday morning and the next day, my CC called me at 9:30 or so wanting to verify the charges (or alert me that my card might have been stolen).

    When somebody regularly pays the $40 or $60 plus tax for years and then suddenly runs into the hundreds with random foreign calls in downloads, somebody ought to investigate. But, since they have no legal liability to forgive the charges, they can tell the customer to pay up or get their credit screwed.

  48. PillowFightGirl says:

    I’m the “Tiffany” in the original story. First off – no, I did not call it in for 7 days. Yes, that is my fault. I didn’t even realize it was missing until two days before we got off the boat, but even if I had, the cell service in the BVIs for US carriers is non-existent where we were regardless of what Mr I Wasnt There says. Second, I was only on land for one day – the day it was stolen. I didn’t know that someone had taken it and was using it. By the time I figured out that it was missing – I thought I had just misplaced it somwhere on the boat. Again, my fault. I accept that.

    My entire point is that the policy stinks. Fraud should be treated like fraud and companies like AT&T should try and protect their consumers from obvious fraud instead of passing the buck. I realize that losing the phone is ultimately my responsibility, but AT&T should treat this type of fraud as other companies (such as credit card companies) do and at least pretend like they are doing something to protect the consumer from theft.

    BTW – I had the name of one of the movies wrong. It was “Wild Pillow Fight Girls” not “Pillow Fight Girls 3″ I didn’t want any of you out there searching for the wrong title to download on your RAZR.

  49. Buran says:

    @ptkdude: Not everyone stares at the contents of their purse (or whatever) like a hawk. I’ve dropped things before and not noticed til the next day. You’re expecting everyone to be perfect, which is unreasonable.

  50. Buran says:

    @balthisar: In the wrong for not wanting to pay fraudulent fees? Ha.

  51. Buran says:

    I still think this site should be officially named BlameTheVictimist. It’s still alive and well.

  52. chrisfromnl says:

    @jimconsumer:
    As a current (for another couple weeks, summer job) AT&T call center employee, I can vouch for this as well. I usually try to make every customer service experience a good one. I see fellow co-workers telling someone to call back on a different phone at 8:58pm when we close at 9:00pm just so they don’t have to deal with another call. I see other co-workers transferring any caller that has an issue other than the ones we deal with, even though it is a very simple yes/no answer sometimes.
    Sometimes when we have to run a credit check on a customer we have to call another AT&T call center. Occasionally one will ask for some crazy password or something. I usually just say I don’t have one, hang up, call back, and the next agent approves the credit check without any password that no one at my center knows about. At any rate, call back again. I can’t wait to put in my 2 weeks notice next week. :)

  53. EtherealStrife says:

    Pppprrreeeepppaaaaiiiddd

    No sympathy for contract whores

  54. JustAGuy2 says:

    @PillowFightGirl:

    Well, I don’t know where you were in the BVIs, but I have a hard time believing that you never anchored on Tortola, Jost, Virgin Gorda, or the Dogs. Anyone with a Verizon phone would have had coverage there.

    None of your friends may have activated their international roaming, but that’s hardly AT&T’s fault.

    AT&T should clearly be responsible for any fraudulent charges after you notified them. Until you notify them, however, they’re not going to intervene. Credit card companies notify you because your card # can be stolen without you knowing – not true with cellphones.

    Bottom line, you were careless, and are now trying to avoid the consequences. You might get AT&T to forgive the charges to keep you, if you’re a valuable customer, but you certainly don’t have any moral or legal claim that they do so.

  55. bedofnails says:

    @PillowFightGirl:

    Pick up your piece of chalk and write: “lesson learned.”

  56. bedofnails says:

    @Buran:

    Carelessness categorized as victimization? Sweet.

  57. floofy says:

    I love how no accepts personal responsibility anymore. If she is so concerned about having the charges taken care of, she needs to contact the police, and if/when they find the person that defrauded her, sue them for damages. I work for a wireless company, and get so tired of hearing people like this try to make their carelessness and irresponsibility my problem.

  58. bigroblee says:

    Hello; I used to work for Cingular. CSP (Cingular Sales Portal, the database we used for information and training) states that we will credit everything when a phone is stolen. There are limits to that, but as far as I found out by just getting on the phone with a friend that still works there that is only a problem if it goes for a full billing cycle. Do not accept any adjustments if you have not already done so, doing this gives them ammo to then later state “such and such amount was a final credit for this matter”, they (the customer service reps) can actually issue the credit with a billing code that will allow no future credits for one year. I would seriously suggest taking your chances with the OOP. That’s the Office Of the President; you won’t actually be communicating with Stan Sigman but with executive level customer care reps that are trained to fix stuff and not just get you off the phone to keep their ATT (Average Talk Time) under 300 seconds. You can reach them by email at HQ.OOP@semail.cingular.com try this or call 866-cingular and ask for the OOP corespondence address. They don’t actually have an inbound line, so understand the representative can not transfer you to them directly, but you will get results. Try to get the names of the reps you talk to, even supervisors that don’t help, as in all the time I was at Cingular the only thing I saw people getting retrained about were issues that customers took to the OOP. Good luck and if I can be of any help let me know. P.S.- if the rep acts like they don’t know what the OOP is just say “Please search in CSP for the OOP contact information, thank you” all sweet and nice like, listen to them perk up and drop the attitude.

  59. Cowboys_fan says:

    I do feel bad for situations like this. I worked for t-mobile and unfortunately they wouldn’t help either. Maybe she could have called before they left, maybe not. Either way, there are plenty of times when one could unknowingly lose a phone for a day or two, practically every friday night at work was suspending drunks phones who lost them at the bar. The problem is for a carrier that whether they give a credit or not, the still have to pay for those downloads. In my two years, I didn’t see anybody win an arguement like this. Hopefully they will help out.

  60. Cowboys_fan says:

    @Maude Buttons:
    For every person like you who actually lost their phone, there’s 10 more who claim that to get charges waived. If companies waived charges as the “customer servicely” thing do do, they would all be out of business. The fact that they waived your charges at all should make you happy, but b/c they won’t do it again, you take offence? There is absolutely no way for a rep to know you lost your phone, or perhaps your child got a hold of it and downloaded, that happens quite a bit. That type of thing is a police matter.

  61. cac67 says:

    @jimconsumer: This would be a complete waste of time. Csr credit limit is $250. No matter how many times you call back, you wont find a rep to credit you $450.

    @Bigroblee:Csp changes constantly. Your info is out of date.

    @PILLOWFIGHTGIRL: I realize that losing the phone is ultimately my responsibility, but AT&T should treat this type of fraud as other companies (such as credit card companies) do.

    Can you name for me any industry other than the credit card industry that does this?

  62. PillowFightGirl says:

    Hi – it’s me again! That careless rich vacation whore who should have swam ashore at Prickly Pear Island and demanded one of the ten people who live there give me a way to call AT&T immediately (anyone have that super-coverage Verizon phone?) and let them know that not only is my phone gone, but it has been taken by a Dominican and he must be downloading tiny expensive porn as we speak!

    I appreciate all the constructive comments and helpful hints – I will definitely keep going until I run out of options. Again, I have to say – my point is getting lost here – the policy is lame. Even if you can prove it is fraud, AT&T doesn’t care and doesn’t try and prevent it, – I want other people to realize that so the same thing doesn’t happen to them.

  63. Buran says:

    @JustAGuy2:

    You weren’t there. I respectfully suggest you shut your mouth right now. Or bash your keyboard. Or whatever.

    I just love how people on the net think they know better than the people who were there.

    Not.

  64. Buran says:

    @bedofnails: Uh huh. Like it’s her fault that these people know it’s fraud and still won’t help her. Fraud is fraud. And apparently you and all the other posters have selective reading abilities, because you all keep ignoring her perfectly valid explanation of the circumstances but still seeing everything else.

    Do you say the same thing when people get their safe deposit boxes cleaned out, or when someone gets held responsible for multiple thousands of dollars of mistakes, too?

  65. Buran says:

    @floofy: Uhm, one of the things you are supposed to do when you are defrauded is contact the companies that are demanding you pay for fraudulent activity that you are not responsible for. You work for a wireless company? You need to stop complaining about people who did nothing wrong and do the job you’re paid to do, which is serve paying (when it’s a legit fee anyway) customers. Not complain about them when they actually *gasp* cost you money.

  66. Buran says:

    @PillowFightGirl: Sorry about all the idiots. I’m afraid you looked in the wrong place, it seems, if you wanted actual help. Around these parts, it’s always the complainant’s (reporter’s? Not sure what to call it) fault, and everyone who wasn’t there is obviously more qualified than those who were to analyze the situation.

  67. bedofnails says:

    @Buran:

    “Do you say the same thing when people get their safe deposit boxes cleaned out, or when someone gets held responsible for multiple thousands of dollars of mistakes, too?

    I think your analogy button is broke.

  68. mattisimo says:

    Aside from both being large corporations w/ questionable customer service policies, how much do credit card companies and wireless carriers have in common? I’ve heard that most wireless carriers have up to 90 days to report roaming customer usage back to their home carrier. How is a carrier going to monitor fraud as efficiently as a credit card company, where transactions generally occur in real-time?
    Crappy, apathetic customer care agents aren’t helping the situation, but speaking for myself, I tend to learn more about how various services are intended to work when I ‘break’ them. Still, damned if I’m opening a user manual or reading the fine print anytime soon. :P

  69. a_m_m_b says:

    @Maude Buttons: you got off easier than we did. i was going to add myself to my husband’s tmobile plan to save $$ but their phone failed to perform so we returned it w/in the 14 day cancel period. a staff member helped themselves to $400 of bs the next day which t-hell did their damnedest to stick us with. after futile calls, lies, etc. we finally had to sic the Az AG on them. we are so gone once hubby’s contract’s up!.

  70. Buran says:

    @bedofnails: It’s fine. Your “get it” processor is broke.

  71. Buran says:

    @EtherealStrife: How would that help? In THAT case, she would still have lost prepaid time.

  72. JustAGuy2 says:

    @Buran:

    I wasn’t there, neither were you. Based on the information that the OP provided, it appears highly likely that her claim that it wasn’t possible for her to inform AT&T that her phone had been stolen could more accurately be expressed as “I figured it wasn’t my problem, so I didn’t try very hard, and now I’m trying to defend myself.” Given that _her_ AT&T wireless phone could readily roam on CCT’s GSM network, I see no reason why one of her friends’ phones couldn’t do the same. OP has never even claimed that she _tried_ to call on multiple occasions and couldn’t get signal.

    Buran, OP posted a story here asking for feedback. My opinion is that her complaint isn’t valid, and that she should abandon her efforts. You’re welcome to disagree, but I’m very comfortable in declining to comply with your “respectful” request that I “shut my mouth” so as not to pollute this board with positions that you find inconvenient or distasteful.

  73. cbear says:

    I call shenanigans, if only because AT&T’s DirectBill system won’t allow more than $100 in charges to be billed within the same calendar month (just found out about this on a call today, in fact).

  74. chopchopturtleboy says:

    @PILLOWFIGHTGIRL:

    Sorry to hear about your experience.

    So, did your charter trip start from St. John? If so, which island in the BVI’s did you choose to clear customs? Because any customs house in the BVI’s would have a phone. You said “I didn’t even realize it was missing until two days before we got off the boat, but even if I had, the cell service in the BVIs for US carriers is non-existent where we were…” So hightail it back to the nearest anchorage with a phone and call.

    If you are savvy enough charter a sailboat and cruise in the BVI’s, then you should also know enough to call AT&T to report the missing phone ASAP. You said you didn’t call AT&T until you got back to the states. Say what? Couldn’t find a phone back in St. John?

    Since you are here defending your position, feel free to post your charter trip route. I’d love to see where you were.

  75. bedofnails says:

    Anyone else find Buran beyond an annoyance?

  76. JustAGuy2 says:

    @Buran:

    Yes, I would say the same thing, if someone (a) knew that someone who looked just like him had stolen his ID and safe deposit box key and (b) did nothing about it.

  77. balthisar says:

    @Buran: Well, yeah. They’re not fraudulent fees, as AT&T isn’t billing her fraudulently. They’re legitimate charges, billed according to her contract, and she’s legally obligated to them. All the same, in the spirit of good customer service, it would benefit AT&T in the long run to forgive these charges. Keep in mind that if AT&T were to provide a 100% credit for the charges, they’re paying for the crime as well. It’s not like she was in a native AT&T area and the charges cost AT&T nothing; AT&T have to pay the third party for the cell access.

    Now a lot of the responses above aren’t looking at the legal or practical situation. They’re blaming AT&T for bad policies. Well, yeah, but that’s outside the scope of things. Ideally they’d do for everyone exactly what Citibank does for me, i.e., monitor usage behavior and prevent these things from happening in the first place. However that’s the subject of another story.

  78. fallenone says:

    Hey guys. In spite of all this information, it seems as if everyone here is lashing out at AT&T. I know, for a fact that this will happen with every single cell phone company, as I not only work for AT&T wireless, but I have also worked for Alltel wireless and T-Mobile. I’ve dealt with this type of situation many times and in fact this is her fault. Argue that fact all you want, but it is true. It is not the companies responsibility that she did not report the stolen phone. The fact of the matter is that I read in her “story” that her cellular device was stolen before her sailing trip, and because she didn’t feel it convenient to call it in before the trip [and this is at the time before she was "in the middle of the sea"], because she assumed that whatever charges that were made would be credited back, of her own fault. She went into the sailing trip knowing that her phone was stolen, and admitted that. If your credit card was stolen, and you knew it was stolen, and continued to let the card to be active until it was convenient for you to have it canceled, the credit card company would certainly NOT refund all of the “fraudulent charges.” These are businesses. They aren’t here to rob you. If you made the extra step to make sure you were safe, instead of waiting for a time when it is convenient for you, you would realize this. These are, in fact, all legit charges.

    Shaun

  79. Meg Marco says:

    Let’s address the question of AT&T’s policy and other helpful constructive debates rather than speculation about the cell phone coverage in the BVI. Thanks.

  80. kbarrett says:

    Well … it looks like we all learned a lesson. Don’t ever have an open-ended phone contract. Just assume that anything other than pre-paid is going to be a ticket to victimization.

    If the bigger cellular service providers will not take care of their customers, then screw them. No more contracts. Dump them the next time they raise their rates.

  81. fallenone says:

    Drop them if you want, but maybe next time do your part as the consumer and try not to screw the company, eh?

    It’s not our fault you don’t find it convenient to use 5 minutes to have your phone suspended before your sail. Then you expect us to look the other way and get rid of the charges when you find it convenient to call up? You call the person who stole the phone an ass, but you had just a big of a part Jennifer. You waited. You incurred those charges yourself.

  82. fallenone says:

    Oh, I’m sorry, it’s Tiffany lol

  83. Dr.Ph0bius says:

    @JustAGuy2:

    I was going to say the same thing. I think people are under the impression that “sailing” somehow involves technology from the early 1900′s. These boats have cell phone, satellite phones, ship to shore radios… you name it.

    I hate AT&T. I mean, I seriously LOATHE them! But I get the impression that this girls phone was stolen and she didnt want to deal with it till the trip was over.

    Just my opinion.

  84. Dr.Ph0bius says:

    @meghannmarco:


    Theyre one in the same. Its the customers responsibility to report the theft in a timely manner. She did not do so, which I say because I have used a cellphone on a boat in the BVI and know it to be possible. The boat captains arent scurvy pirates from an old novel, they are regular people who, very often, are talking on their cellphones while navigating. The BVI has a 21st century infrastructure in place. It isnt like youre on Gilligans Island or something… phone service is there, access to phones, be they land line or cell phone, is there. In this case, the customer was negligent.

  85. mikecolione says:

    You can report your phone lost/stolen a few different ways… call customer service, go online, or visit a store.

    I find it hard to believe she didn’t have time to do any of those things. Fine she was leaving on a sailboat, but if someone broke into your house would you wait to call the police, or do it right away? This may be a bad example but you get my point.

    The policy does state that you must report the loss immediately and you won’t be responsible if the phone somehow does incur charges.

    As for AT&T selling porn, they don’t. But that doesn’t mean you can’t go to some other site on the web and purchase the material. AT&T just bills what the phone buys.

    One final piece of advice: Activate parental controls on your phone. If you would have done that, the thief would have had to enter a password to access the web and to call internationally.

  86. bedofnails says:

    I’m still failing to see how the prepay supporters believe that would have mitigated her risk. Instead of being billed for said minutes she would have already lost the money. Granted their would have been some sort of cap on the total dollar loss; but this just seems like a phony argument to me.

    Those of you with prepay accounts, do you have an alternate phone; like a house phone, business cell, etc? I cannot fathom being charged .10 a minute for normal usage.

  87. monkey_mania says:

    FALLENONE

    She didn’t say that she knew the phone was gone before she left on the trip – you didn’t read all the posts. She didn’t know it was gone until the trip was almost over. She figured ot when it was stolen when the bill came after she called it in. Also, you are mistaken about the credit card analogy. The credit card company would refund all the fraudulent charges no matter what the circumstances were.

    I love how everyone is so perfect here – I’m sure you all lock your phones, read your contracts word for word, and keep an eagle eye on your phone at all times no matter what. Pluuuh-eeeze. You’d be whining just as loud if it was you.

    And, you sound like you work for AT&T and are an ass as well.

  88. EtherealStrife says:

    @Buran @bedofnails: When you don’t have the phone surgically implanted in your skull, it’s quite easy to limit airtime. If I need to contact someone, I use email. Or I call them up and set a meet time. I keep ~50 bucks on my prepaid at any given time, or 500 minutes. That last me 4-12 months, depending on usage. How much do you pay for phone service, and how many minutes do you average per month? I’d wager most of those minutes are used in the “I’ve got the minutes to burn so I might as well use them” urgency level.
    It’s the obesity mentality of Americans. Order the super sized meal because it’s the best price, and then force yourself to eat it because you paid for it and don’t want to have pissed away your money.

    I have a decent phone, so if I lose it I’m out ~$150 between the replacement cost and the potentially used up minutes. If I’d bummed it and used one of the many decent $20 nokias and whatnot on ebay (new) I’d be out $70 maximum. If you’re foolish enough to lose a cellphone, $70 is a small price to pay, and there’s no reason why you need that many minutes on your phone. Also, who knows what the replacement cost is for these women and what contract breaking fines they may get hit with.


    As a previous commenter said, lock your phones and turn them off when not on your person. Commonsense.

  89. bedofnails says:

    @EtherealStrife:

    My phone is also subsidized by my career, at a 900 min a month plan; all-in, with internet and the all important text messaging packages the bill comes to around $100 a month – which I pay about $20 of. Glancing at past statements, I averaged around 650-800 min a month, not one of those minutes poorly used.

    I do not have a land line in my house, and ignore my office phone, so that obviously inflates my wireless minutes. I’ll totally concur there are cell phone abusers out there, who just call people to call (waiting in line, driving home, etc), and are a bane on civilization. (How annoying is the call, “hey, what you doing?”)

    Consider this topic official dead.

  90. scorpius_malfoy says:

    I’m a little late to be commenting on this, but hopefully I can be useful.
    I’ve worked in AT&T call centers, and I know the policy that the rep was refering to, however, I also know that if you just escalate the call the charges will be waived. The $450 was above this rep’s schedule of authorization, that’s why she only offered to credit 1/3 or the fraud. In this case I’d recommend calling back and escalating the call – I’ve seen managers waive charges much higher than this in cases of theft.