EECB To AT&T Succeeds Where Small Claims Court Fails

Consumerist reader Judy has three young daughters, all of whom have Samsung Impression phones, many of which have failed over the last year or so and needed to be replaced by AT&T. So when the holiday times rolled around, Judy wanted to upgrade her kids’ regular ol’, buggy cell phones with iPhone 4S smartphones. She’d hoped that AT&T would see the benefit in allowing her to upgrade early and get a head start on paying them more money. Alas, the Death Star did not see the wisdom in her way of thinking.

So, in order to get AT&T’s attention, Judy filed a lawsuit in small claims court for the cost of the three faulty Samsungs and for the court to order AT&T to allow her to make the early upgrade.

Only a short while after filing in small claims court, an AT&T rep contacted Judy to see about resolving the issue. But while the rep was able to offer early upgrades to other smartphones, she said that AT&T policy prevented her from doing the same for iPhones.

Writes Judy:

When confronted with the fact that the change I seek would not only net AT&T $199 per phone, or $597, but also increase my monthly payments by a minimum of $45 assuming the $15 data plan for each line for the duration of three two-year contracts, an additional $1080, and far more likely $75 a month for the 2GB data option for each line, or an additional $1800 over the life of the contracts, [the rep] stated her hands were tied.

The rep was willing to waive ETFs on Judy’s daughters’ three lines but could not do so on Judy’s phone, as that had recently been upgraded. So before deciding, she took her daughters to the local Verizon store where she learned that getting the three iPhones for her daughter would cost basically the same with Big V as it would with AT&T.

But she wanted to give AT&T one final chance and crafted a detailed, businesslike Executive E-mail Carpet Bomb to Grand Moff Randall Stephenson and other members of the AT&T high council, in which she recounts her situation, expresses disappointment, and suggests a reasonable resolution without resorting to outright insult or losing her cool.

“I would prefer to remain with the carrier I have been with for years rather than cancel my daughters’ lines and come out of pocket to terminate my 4th line and take my business elsewhere,” she explains in the closing of her EECB. “Please help me understand how this kind of policy stands to make AT&T any money or establish positive customer service experiences if the very company I am seeking to give more business to would rather see me leave than keep me as a satisfied customer.”

Within hours of receiving the EECB, a different rep called Judy to let her know that an exception was being made and that she would be allowed to upgrade her daughters’ lines to iPhones.