AT&T: Don't Worry, We Reject Everyone On The Basis Of Their Credit

Jim writes to tell us that he ordered AT&T U-Verse (it’s supposed to be installed tomorrow) and was surprised to find a letter in his mailbox telling him that AT&T had decided to “Limit and/or deny the purchase of products and/or services” based on his credit report.

The letter said Jim could request information about the decision, but when he called to do so the CSR told him not to worry, AT&T sends that letter to everyone.

What? Jim tried to talk to a supervisor but the CSR hung up on him. Does anyone work for AT&T? Can you explain this strange conversation? Because we can’t. Jim says the CSR confirmed that his installer was still scheduled for tomorrow and that everything was peachy with his order. We’re as confused as Jim is.

Jim writes:

I’m confused. We just bought a car (a Yaris, it’s awesome) 10 days ago and the guy commended our credit score and history. We got a fantastic rate on the loan, and our credit history was frankly cleaner than we thought it would be.

We are scheduled to have AT&T U-verse installed tomorrow, starting between 12:00 and 2:00. We ordered it last Thursday. Today we got a letter which frightened me, here are the relevant bits:

06/25/07

Addressed to me with my legal first name, not the name I go by and use for this account.

“Dear My-Last-Name” Like ‘Dear Smith’,

“…Based in part on an assessment of your credit history, we have made the following decision to:

Limit and/or deny the purchase of products and/or services

…You have rights, etc…call Equifax…

If you would like to know specifically the principal reason(s) for our decision, please contact us within 60 days of the date of this letter. We will tell you the reason for our decision in writing within 30 days after receiving your request.

Should you have any additional questions, please contact us at 1-800-288-2020.” XOXOXO, AT&T.

I surely did want to know, specifically, the principal reason(s), so I called to make that request. I’ve been watching tv via rabbit ears for the last three months, and obsessively defending my credit for years, so I’m about to have a stroke, but I stay calm.

The first rep listened to my request, tried to transfer me, and disconnected. The second rep disconnected while verifying my info. The next rep, Dwayne, looked up my account and this is the mostly verbatim version of the conversation:

I got a letter that says yada yada. So, I’m calling to request the specific items in my credit history that caused this decision.

We send that letter to everyone, it just means we checked your credit.

But it says, based on my credit history, AT&T has decided to ‘limit and/or deny the purchase of products and/or services.’ (I quote the part about requesting specifics). I want to know what is on my history that caused this.

You’ve already been approved though. You wouldn’t have received the letter if you weren’t approved.

But it does not say I have been approved, it says I will be limited and/or denied. (I quote the letter again).

We, the CSRs, we don’t send that letter.

I understand that.

That letter comes from another department. We send it to everybody, it just means we checked your credit.

So you tell everybody that they will be limited and/or denied? (What does limited mean anyway?) I don’t think you understand what the letter says. (I start quoting. Again!)

I don’t think you understand what I am saying to you.

Can I talk to a supervisor? I’d like to escalate this. I’m not going to complain about you, but I don’t understand this letter, and I’d like the specific information it offers me. You’ve been very courteous, I just think we’re not communicating well, and I’d like to have a second opinion on this because it’s very serious and completely baffling.

Ok, no problem, I can transfer you to a manager. But I’m telling you, it’s fine.

So I still have an installation scheduled for tomorrow at noon?

Yeah, it’s right here. Between 12 and 2. Eastern.

And I get U400 and the DVR and 3 months free and…

…and free equipment and free install and etc., etc. That’s what we hooked you up with. You ordered it from Susan on … last Thursday. Is that who you ordered this from?

I don’t know, my wife ordered it.

Ask her.

She’s not home. (Where is this going? Is he proving he’s an honest chap or something?) So this letter that says I will be limited and/or denied, and advises me to contact Equifax, and contact you for specific information, actually just means all is well?

That letter says we checked your credit. If you hadn’t been approved, we wouldn’t have scheduled the installation, and you wouldn’t have received the letter.

On and on, so I ask for a supervisor again, he keeps up the “all is well, please disperse” for a few more minutes. I finally cut him off and calmly explain again that I think he and I are having a miscommunication, and I’d still like to speak to a supervisor because this doesn’t make any sense. He tries to transfer me to a supervisor and I wait on hold for 5 minutes before an automated voice says “Thank you for calling. Goodbye.” and I am disconnected.

I’ve had letters like this in the past, back when I wasn’t such a good kid with my credit, and I know they usually mean “Limit and/or (especially, emphatically, while cackling mischievously) deny the purchase of products and/or services (forever!).”

So, naturally, tomorrow I am checking my credit reports, and I guess expecting the “professional installation”, and requesting the specific information again, but what is wrong here? Could the car be the problem in my history? Is there a problem? I am curious whether this has happened to others, and why AT&T might be causing unnecessary panic with poorly worded letters, or, more likely, why Dwayne might be causing unnecessary peace and tranquility. After the 5 hour (!) install tomorrow is some goon going to come back and take it all out? While telling me they do it to everybody?

Jim

Anyone?

(Photo: epicharmus)