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)