AT&T Won't Sell Man GoPhone Because It Can't Verify His Credit History

Nathan’s been having trouble this week buying a prepaid GoPhone from AT&T Mobility’s website. He finally found out the reason: they couldn’t verify his credit history. This is confusing because it’s a prepaid GoPhone and because his credit history is superb. “Cheryl refused to transfer me. I asked her if she was in any way motivated to find out what was wrong with their system and help me, and, to her credit, she answered honestly with a simple ‘no.'”

A couple of days ago I submitted a tip regarding my sudden inability to order a new GoPhone through the AT&T online store; my orders went through successfully, but were then later cancelled under mysterious circumstances no one I spoke with at AT&T could explain.
 
After several more calls and nearly an hour on hold I finally got to speak with supervisor Cheryl Johnson in the web store order processing department. Ms. Johnson then informed me that my orders were being cancelled because they had been unable to verify my credit history. This raises two interesting questions for which she had no answers:
 
1) What is suddenly wrong with my credit history in AT&T’s eyes? I’ve ordered from them without any problems in the past, and my score is in the upper 700s.
 
2) Why is AT&T performing a credit history check on a GoPhone purchase in the first place? Everything is prepaid and there is absolutely no chance that anyone attempting to establish a new prepaid account could possibly defraud them in any way. That’s kinda what “prepaid” means.
 
Ms. Johnson blatantly refused to answer either of these questions and simply read some pre-prepared rejection script that was obviously coming up on her computer screen as rudely as she could in an attempt to interrupt me in mid-speech. Once she finally ran out of things to parrot I asked why it was that a supervisor in the AT&T order processing department did not know how the AT&T order processing process worked well enough to explain to me why my orders were being cancelled, and she said that this was something the credit department handled. I asked for their number, and of course, they don’t take inbound calls and Cheryl refused to transfer me. I asked her if she was in any way motivated to find out what was wrong with their system and help me, and, to her credit, she answered honestly with a simple “no.”
 
So, beware: if you buy an AT&T GoPhone online they will make some ham- handed attempt at accessing your credit history.

Why does AT&T need to check credit scores for something that doesn’t include extending a line of credit? How is it that a secretly-derived score can prevent a customer from concluding a transaction, but nobody on AT&T’s side is willing to help solve the customer’s problem?
 
Maybe that CSR has your GoPhone, Nathan, and she really likes it.
 
(Photo: Getty)