AT&T Employee: AT&T Lied, Employee Discounts Don't Apply To iPhone Calling Plans

AT&T pulled the bait and switch on its own employees. One was repeatedly told that his employee discount would apply only towards iPhone calling plans, but not the iPhone itself, or its associated data plan. The employee twice verified the existence of a calling plan discount – at an AT&T store, and with AT&T customer support. He even called customer support before the 14-day return window closed and again verified that, yes, his discount applied to the calling plan. After the employee received his first bill last week, he sat down and wrote us this letter:

I was told I should write to you about my experience with my iPhone purchase. I am currently an employee at AT&T. I, like everyone else that loves electronics, was chomping at the bit to get the new iPhone the minute it came out. That is, until I heard rumors that we would not receive our employee discounts once we associated the iPhone with our account. I was upset but had decided not to get this little gem. I did, however, want to go to the store where they were at just to see one in person. I was asked if I would like to purchase one by one of the sales people. I told her that I would but I didn’t want to lose my company discount on my phone service for the two phones I had on my account. She informed me then that I had misunderstood the discount procedure. We could not get a discount on the equipment (iPhone) or the mandatory data package associated with the phone but we would, in fact, retain our discount on our calling plan being as the calling plan has nothing to do with the type of phone you are using at the time you make the call. I thought about it and made the purchase.

I went home to activate my new toy and received a warning that I would lose all discounts associated with my business account. I did not activate the phone. I called customer support on June 30th around 9:00 a.m. to verify with them the message I had received. They informed me with the same information that the sales person at the store had told me. I would retain my discount on my calling plan.

I activated the phone and only 37 hours and 8 phone calls later my phone activates and every other call or so I would mention my discount and each support member would assure me my discount would remain the same. It was suggested to me by the support member on June 30th for me to call and check on my discount around July 17th because that would be when my billing cycle would end and they could check my discount. I did so and they assured me that my discount was there and would remain there. I needed to do this also before the 14-day return policy had expired so that I could take the phone back if there was a problem.

August 7th 2007, I am looking at my bill online and no discount anywhere on my bill for either of the two lines on my account (1 is iPhone and 1 is not). I contacted customer service; they inform me that Apple is to blame and will not allow my discount to be associated with this account or any services on it. I ask them to look through the call records for the call I had made on June 30th and they can not find it until I start spouting out a specific time and the rep’s name in which I spoke to that day. They find the record and read through the notes and they see where I am assured that I would retain my discount and that if by some chance that if something did happen to my discount that all I had to do was contact customer service with my foundation account number and it would be reapplied. She then proceeded to tell me that the previous rep had misinformed me along with the sales assistant at the retail store and that in fact my discount was gone. I asked to disconnect my service and was told that had to be done in the store. I needed to return the phone and deactivate my service. I informed the lady helping me today that I had purchased the phone around 30 days ago and she told me that the store would not take the phone back. She also told me that if I was so concerned about my company discount, then my only option was to start up another account in my name not associated with the iPhone and that new account would be eligible for my discount.

Now that I have spent $600.00 on this product I can not return it and have no way of receiving my discount. I feel it is pretty disturbing that we can not receive a discount on OUR service when Apple employees supposedly were given free iPhones.

Disgruntled Employee

(AP Photo/ Stacie Freudenberg)


Edit Your Comment

  1. Fl3shy says:

    This is unfortunate indeed- but I can only say one thing: Welcome to the cellphone industry!

    I sold cellphones for Wireless Wave in Canada for about a year. After constant “training seminars” which encouraged shady sales tactics designed to confuse customers into a purchase, I eventually had to quit simply because I couldn’t deal with the constant service providers loopholes, shotty products, outrageous warranty aversion strategies, and corrupt management.

    Your situation sounds exactly like something a wireless company would do, and it’s simply appauling.

  2. Cowboys_fan says:

    I don’t know if its too late for you now but if you changed your address, or even phone number to California, they have 30 day return policy under CABOR. This worked for t-mobile as I used to be a rep there, so maybe it can work for you. Do they make an employee sign a contract?(Tmobile didn’t) If not, then just return it, minus that nasty restock fee. Do you not have an employee line to call? I think at least they should give you credit on that first month. Never trust a sales rep, they’ll say whatever they can to make a sale.

  3. d0x says:

    Cingular..I mean AT&T’s excellent customer service strikes again. You should have known this was coming since you worked there but I do feel for you, thats a load of BS.

    What possible reason could there be for not giving you the discount?

  4. LoCoNights says:

    I know how you feel my friend. I have a at&t phone myself and I returned my iPhone the same day i got it (Couldn’t Stand it) Att will not give me my discount because my account is link to an iPhone which i returned an hour after i had it. Also telling me the only way to get it back is to make a new account and lose my number which i have had for 3 years. Better business bureau Anyone?

  5. doctor_cos wants you to remain calm says:

    “Apple is to blame and will not allow my discount…” ??? WTF? Did the company change to Apple T&T ??? Maybe AT&T couldn’t tell anyone about this because of that big Apple dick in their mouths.

    C’mon, miniOne!!!

  6. ptkdude says:

    I work for AT&T and we were sent several emails prior to and even after launch of the iPhone in which the company was very clear that there were NO DISCOUNTS on the iPhone, or on service for the iPhone.

  7. BoscoSeven says:

    You should cause some damage to the company, ($600 worth) and then quit

  8. Cowboys_fan says:

    @ptkdude: Obviously they did not do a good enough job in getting the word out if a sales rep and it appears to be at least 8 csr’s didn’t know, plus the poster.

  9. natsirt says:

    “I, like everyone else that loves electronics, was chomping at the bit to get the new iPhone the minute it came out.” Really, because a lot of people I know who “love electronics” wouldn’t go near the iPhone.

  10. Applekid ┬──┬ ノ( ゜-゜ノ) says:

    Just goes to show if they can’t even take care of their own without deception and lies, what chance do YOU have?

  11. ptkdude says:

    @Cowboys_fan: They’re not reading their email, then.

  12. maevro says:


    Wow, well said. I am a HUGE phone lover and would never go near the iPhone. I have used AT&T for a while now, I even went back to them after leaving other carriers but I never buy phones from them.

    This is why I buy unlocked HTC, E-TEN, I-Mate and Nokia phones from overseas. I will pay AT&T for their excellent UMTS and HSDPA NYC service, but not for their phones.

    I love how AT&T still sells the 8800 yet they are discontinuing it for the 8820 and they don’t tell you that.

  13. Ickypoopy says:

    (IANAL) When the reps told you that you would recieve the discount, doesnt this create an implied warranty? Therefore, you would have the right to return everything “within a reasonable timeframe” or recieve what was offered. Clearly you are within your rights here to demand compensation.

  14. sharonlives says:

    @natsirt: Gimme a break. Lots of people who “love electronics” bought the iPhone. Why try to pick at one sentence that has little to do with the overall point of the letter?

    AT&T should be forced to give this person whatever its associates promised. I would be making a big stink about it too.

    Then again, I hope I would never get into the same situation. It’s best not to trust anything a salesman tells you. If it’s not in writing somewhere official, don’t believe it.

  15. NoNamesLeft says:


  16. CuriousO says:

    The Problem is when you work for Att you dont get treated like evetyone else. They dont have an employee line. they have an email address that you have to write to whenever anything hapens which has a turnaround time of 3-5 business days. that in my opinion is stupid. I work for att and thought about getting one of the employee plans but just base on getting treated like a red headed step child, when i have a problem with my phone i decided not to. i think i rather go into contract with another carrier.

  17. riggs says:

    @CuriousO: So, you work for AT&T, and you also get horrible service? Sounds like you ARE getting treated like everyone else…

  18. Anonymous says:

    Why wouldn’t carriers offer a discount if you bring your own phone? You’d think they have to pay out $200 on contracts, I for one, don’t sign contracts and end up paying double…$200 up-front premium on the phone and have to pay the same rates as everyone else.

  19. Anonymous says:

    I remember my Sprint employee plan. Broken promises there too. Promised free service if we brought our own phone. I got in just before they changed their mind and started offering an associate plan for $30 – $45. They did end up disconnecting my phone after I quit and ran up $2000 in analog roaming and data.

  20. Buran says:

    @natsirt: I’m not buying an iPhone right now not because of the lack of discounts (the plan I’d move to isn’t that much more than what I pay now for a discounted plan, since the iphone plans include data etc. all-in-one) but what I’m waiting for is real IM (not just SMS) to show up (WHO in this day and age doesn’t release a smartphone without IM!?!?!?) and 3G.

    I also hope that in the future I can get an employee discount but I may change jobs soon (may move, but it’s not definite) so I might lose it anyway.

    I also hope the Bluetooth stack gets improved so BluePhoneElite will work with it.

  21. Buran says:

    @thbarnes: Because they can and because too damned many people are cell phone whores who can’t even put the things down to get on the treadmill, then trip on them and complain.


  22. Mojosan says:

    JUst to counteract the “iPhone iz teh suxor” crowd…

    I have an iPhone, love it, no issues, no issues with AT&T.

    Had to use Verizon for 7 years, had issue after issue with them. Both the phone and service.

  23. bostonpaper says:

    Contact the AT&T executive offices (Office of the President). I did and received back the corporate discount that had previously been on my AT&T non-iPhone account but was removed when I added a second line – and an iPhone. They apologized to me and said that they realized the policy was wrong and was being changed. The Consumerist site previously listed e-mail addresses for Mary Timbang (Marketing) and Randall Stephenson (President.

  24. Clobberella says:

    I’m not sure what’s different with the “new” AT&T but I worked on the sales end of Cingular for some time, and we would get an entirely different employee plan rather than just a discount on a standard plan, regardless of the phone. I think there was even an employee plan for Blackberry. Do they not do that anymore? If not, are they allowing any other corporate discounts on standard service with the iPhone? As in, you work for Home Depot, get 10% off, work for Target, get 12% off, etc.?

    Also, again I’m not sure about AT&T, but I also did customer service for T-Mobile, and we were required to make good on a promise from a previous rep as long as that promise was documented, even if it was something we wouldn’t normally do. Almost always that would require some sort of supervisor approval. In any case, I would call them back and escalate until you get what you were promised. Don’t give up.

  25. Transient says:

    This was clear on employee communications leading up to release. Try reading e-mail.

    @Clobberella: Both are right. You can have a special employee-only plan or a discount on a standard rate plan. Take your pick for your situation.

  26. LatherRinseRepeat says:

    Once again.. always get it in writing. That way if they decide to back out on a discount, you have written proof. But as PTKDUDE mentioned, there was probably a company-wide memo about the lack of discounts. And neither the story submitter or any of the CSR’s he spoke to got a copy of that memo.

    I think people should just get over the iPhone. It’s here today, gone tomorrow. Obviously this is a “beta” product. The iPhone v2.0 will probably be better and cheaper.

  27. oneswellfoop says:

    Small claims court. I would file a separate claim for every months bill, for your two year contract. If a rep doesn’t show, or the named person you are suing, then you win.

  28. morganlh85 says:

    @natsirt: Hear hear. After hearing the horror stories about the first generation of the iPod, and seeing some equal if not higher quality competitors arise out of its popularity, I think I’ll wait for this Christmas’s attempts at an iPhone killer!

  29. “I feel it is pretty disturbing that we can not receive a discount on OUR service when Apple employees supposedly were given free iPhones.”

    So, should I mention the fact that not only did I get a free iPhone, but I also get a 14% discount on my rate plan for it, as all Apple employees can?

  30. dink23 says:

    @Cowboys_fan: No go in California. iphone has a special return policy. You do have 30 days to cancel service (meet CA law), but only 14 days to return the iphone.

  31. natsirt says:

    I think the statement I took issue with shows the point of view the employee has when looking at the world. He seems to view things in a positive light while ignoring the negative. I am thus not surprised to read the comments suggesting that prior to purchasing his iPhone a email was circulated explaining that there would not be an employee discount for the iPhone.

  32. crimsonwhat says:

    I’m an AT&T employee as well and we received more than just several emails stating that absolutely NO discounts of any kind (no matter if you’re an AT&T employee or not) were to be associated with anything having to do with the iPhone. I’m not sure how or why this AT&T employee missed all the emails and memos that stated the rules and then took the advice of 2 other employees. Perhaps he should’ve talked to his/her manager or even an area manager if he/she were hesitant on the conflicting information received. I don’t feel sorry for him.

  33. calvinneal says:

    I am an ATT employee. We received emails up the wazoo informing all employees that the iphone would not be eligible for the 18% employee discount. While I think the policy is shortsighted, the company was upfront about the policy.

  34. nextstepos says:

    Here is what you do.

    Call AT&T and tell me you didnt like the iphone and sold it.

    Then say you want to keep your service but use it with your old phone. Say that and then just stay with $20 dollar data plan.

    Then just get your employee discount again. AT&T will never know. People do that with blackberries etc to avoid there high cost plans specific to certain cell phones.

  35. allstarecho says:

    My best friend works for AT&T Wireless and he told me that they were told specifically NO EMPLOYEE DISCOUNTS on hardware or plans. This makes me wonder if Disgruntled Employee was paying attention to inhouse memos or he/she is just lieing for his/her 24 hours of fame on .

  36. Buran says:

    @allstarecho: Guess AT&T never lies to customers, huh?

  37. strictlym3 says:

    If you are a so-called “employee” for at&t, you would have had gone through the numerous “nationwide” iphone trainings and learned that employees do not get any sort of discounts on the iphone, whether it be a discount on the phone or rate plans. this was clearly explained to you, however it is unfortunate that you got misinfo from store employees and customer service reps. this seems to happen much too often.

  38. phrygian says:

    I work for a company that deals with AT&T. It was BIG news within the AT&T camp that there would be no employee discounts on the iPhone. People were really upset, too. (For the record, no-one I spoke with ever mentioned Apple employees getting free iPhones.) It’s a shame that CSRs would lie to their fellow employees, though.

  39. forever_knight says:

    nice contrast between Apple and AT&T, huh? one gives you free iPhone and discounted plan. the other gives you nothing.

    “AT&T: nothing….DELIVERED!”

  40. Apple employees were given free iPhones? Damn, I didn’t hear about that.
    @Buran: Of course AT&T lies to customers. Why do you think I left them for T-Mobile?

  41. Transient says:

    @forever_knight: Rather than stopping your train of thought at the supposed facts, you might want to take it a step further and ask questions. A good starting point: why?

  42. Trai_Dep says:

    I ask them to look through the call records for the call I had made on June 30th and they can not find it until I start spouting out a specific time and the rep’s name in which I spoke to that day. They find the record.

    Amazing. The CSR was sitting in front of their screen, snickering silently, lying that there was no record of the employee having been promised a discount (erroneously, but still). Until the employee said the magic words.

    What a crappy company. And even worse customer service.

  43. Arlahna says:

    My husband works for AT & T. They treat their employees like crap. This really didn’t come as a surprise to me.

  44. Buran says:

    @crimsonwhat: Who are you supposed to believe about a company’s service if not an employee of that company!? Never mind more than one of them!

  45. attrep says:

    the guy who thought he’d have the discount, and anyone who told him he would have the discount are morons. It was clearly covered in training that no discounts would be allowed with the iphone.

  46. robbinlee says:

    My concern goes deeper than the disgruntled surface layer. My concern is the lack of loyalty on the part of this employee. No, I’m not management. No matter what job I have had, there were perks and there were jerks. There was a way to get around this.If this person had spoken with management, he would have been looked at with curiosity because he did not utilize his chain of command to get a “fully resolved issue”.