Returned iPhone Within 30 Days, Still Charged $350 ETF

Justin’s and his wife live in a major metropolitan area, and therefore their phone service with AT&T Wireless is crappy. His wife upgraded to an iPhone 4, found it even more unusable than her previous phone, and returned it within the 30-day return period. This means that they shouldn’t have to pay an early termination fee on her contract. Yet she did, and now AT&T won’t refund the fee.

I am among the many who have experienced terrible cell reception on AT&T’s wireless network in Berkeley, CA. 80% of the time I have no service at all and have missed countless calls and texts. Through many calls to AT&T over the past months, I have learned that 6 towers are down in my area, with no ETA for when they will come back online. AT&T has offered little in the way of compensation for this lack of service, other than offering to sell me a micro cell, and the occasional nominal credit of $20.

The lack of service drove my wife to defect to Verizon in July after upgrading to an iPhone 4 and realizing the phone was unusable in Berkeley. She returned her phone within the 30 day window and was promised no early termination fee would apply. Actually, a $348 early termination fee WAS charged and now they have repeatedly denied our requests to remove this fee for over 3 months!

Today was our third attempt to address this with AT&T. For the third time, they had to call the AT&T store, verify that the phone was actually returned, and open a new case to get the credit approved. Oh, and my last call and run through this process was merely 2 days ago!

There is much too much more to say than can fit in this space, but some of it is documented on my Tumblelog.

We have been more than patient. They will not confirm any anticipated timeline for resolution of the issues and they are holding $348 of our money that is not rightfully theirs.