AT&T Shuts Off Our Phones For Not Paying Bill They Can’t Explain

It’s a truly blessed event when a couple decides to truly commit to each other and… join their mobile phone plans together. Kelly and her husband made this true commitment after they were already married, intending to save some money. Instead, they got a series of seemingly random four-figure bills from AT&T. The carrier insisted that Kelly and Mr. Kelly needed to put down deposits…despite being AT&T customers in good standing of a decade or so. They remain confused. By “they” we mean “pretty much everyone involved in this mess.”

On October 3, my husband and I decided to consolidate our separate AT&T accounts into one mobile to mobile family plan in order to save some money. My husband proceeded to request a transfer of billing responsibility for my account using AT&T’s online chat feature. While setting up the transfer of my two lines, my husband noticed that his account suddenly showed a balance due of over $1,000 – he asked the agent if that was simply due to the changes being made and the agent responded that everything would cycle through and get back to normal on the account soon. We noticed in the intervening days that the initial amount owed ballooned up to $1800, but weren’t to concerned about it because when clicked through to the payment section of our account, it showed that our balance due was $0 (we paid our bill on October 12). We thought that everything would eventually be sorted out by the November billing cycle (when the bill is due November 19).

Fast forward to October 31. That morning, I noticed that I didn’t have phone service. At first I thought it was a glitch with my phone, but after doing a re-start, still had no service. My husband got on the AT&T chat to find out what the issue was – at that point we were told that it was due to high data usage on the line and that the line had been suspended.

At this point, we decided to call AT&T and try to talk to a human. After being told again the line suspension was due to high data usage and refuting that claim using their own website (all of our lines combined had used less than .2 of our 4gb monthly allowance), we were transferred up the chain and then told that actually the lines were suspended because we had deposits due of $1600. When we asked why two long time customers would suddenly have deposits on their account that they didn’t know about, the agent said that the deposits were triggered with the transfer of billing responsibility and that we were told about it at that time. Since we had a transcript of the original chat, we were able to refute that the issue of deposits had ever come up. We pleaded with the agent to help us and she put us on hold while she contacted her credit department. When she came back, she stated that the deposits on our account were necessary because my husband had an unpaid bill that had gone to collections – on the same account that we had now – she couldn’t explain why we would still have service all these years if the bill was still in collections. She gave us a phone number and told us that if we paid the outstanding bill with the collections agency, that AT&T would waive the deposits and everything would be fixed. The agent promised to call us the next day to make sure that we were settled.

On the very next day, November 1, my husband woke up to find out that his phone had now been shut off as well. He called the collections agency and settled the mysterious outstanding bill (it was $108), then proceeded to call AT&T again to let them know and ask for our phones to be turned on again. The new agent that he spoke to said that she was unable to help us and that the agent from October 31 would have to call us back and would do so by the end of that day. After waiting until 7:30pm that night with no phone call, I called AT&T again. I was told at this point that the lines were disconnected because we had a past due balance of $69 – when I asked for an explanation of what that past balance was for (remember our account showed balance due of $0), I was sent on to a manager. I went through the escalations until I reached a manager who told me that the accounts were in fact suspended due to the deposit and they could not waive the deposit, but we could switch the whole account back to my name (my old account was completely in good standing) and that would solve the issue. I said fine go ahead and was told that we would need to wait until Friday as the department that could do this was not in. She promised a phone call the next day to get it settled.

On November 2, we finally received a phone call from [S.] at AT&T. S. told my husband that the deposits and billing had all been a big mistake on AT&T’s part and that it was entirely their fault. He waived the deposit and the mystery past-due balance of $69 and put our account back into good standing. My husband recorded this call using Google Voice just to be sure that everything would be okay, which it was, until today…

When our phones were shut off again! My husband has been on AT&T’s online chat since 12:30pm PST (two hours) today trying to find out why. We are now being told that the lines have been shut off because of the $69 past due balance – the same balance that no one could ever tell us what it was for and that S. said he waived on November 2. As of now, none of the agents on the chat my husband is on right now have told us what the fee is for.

After 10 plus years of being AT&T’s ‘valued’ customers, we feel like we’ve completely gone down a rabbit hole with AT&T’s customer service – despite capturing all interactions and being assured that our account was fixed, here we are with no phone service.

There’s no way at this point that we will continue our phone service with AT&T once our contracts are up.

Thanks for your patience for this (long) story – it’s totally insane to us and we hope that by emailing you guys you’ll be able to warn others.

Update: One reader suggested that Kelly check over the new combined contract: AT&T may be breaching their contract in some way by throwing seemingly random deposits and fees at the couple, and they could flee AT&T early with no early termination fee.