AT&T Sends Me “Replacement Router” For Device I Never Received In The First Place

Last month, Consumerist reader James decided it was time to stop sharing (with their consent) his downstairs neighbors’ Internet access and get his own account through AT&T. Problem is, AT&T seemed to be doing everything it could to not make this happen.

When James initially contacted AT&T, the rep told him he’d be receiving a new router for his new service on Mon. Feb. 25. On the morning of the 25th, he even got a recorded call from the Death Star confirming his service would be activated later that day.

But Feb. 25 came and went without a router showing up.

The next day, there was a package on James’ door.

“I was hopeful that it would be the router,” he writes. “It was from AT&T and included some paperwork, including a Terms of Service pamphlet, two glossy advertisements, and return labels for UPS. It also included a notice telling me that the activation date was Feb. 27 at 8 p.m. I thought that maybe the router would be coming in a separate package since I was also told to be expecting instructions on how to set it up.”

And yet no router arrived on Wednesday, so James went to AT&T’s online chat support.

“At first, he sent me a link to the package tracking website that showed the delivery as completed,” James tells Consumerist. “I explained that I had received a package, but that it did not include a router. By the end of the conversation, I thought he understood the situation and said he would put in another order for a router and issue a $25.00 credit to my account.”

But apparently the chat rep did not understand the problem, because the next morning James received an e-mail from AT&T with the subject, “Time Sensitive Instructions for Returning Your Equipment.”

This time he tried Twitter, letting the @ATTCustomerCare account know of his troubles. This resulted in a call that night from AT&T. Once again, James explained the situation.

“I told him that I got this email and was concerned that AT&T was going to try to charge me for a router I had never received,” says James. “He was a nice guy and said he would send it up to whoever and have them review it and I’d probably hear something back the next day.”

When he got home from work on Friday, there was a package from AT&T waiting for him. Inside was a device described as James’ “replacement router.”

Which would have been nice if James had a router to replace, or some ethernet cables handy (the box contained only the router and a power cord), or any idea how to set this device up for the first time (the instructions only showed how to replace a router, not set up a new one).

Aside from these issues — cables can be gotten inexpensively and someone could walk him through the set-up process — the whole mystery “replacement” thing has James concerned.

“I am worried that AT&T is going to try to charge me for a router that I have never received,” he tells Consumerist. “I’m also concerned that they seem to be so incapable of understanding the problem.”

This morning, James received a call from the “president’s office” at AT&T, promising that a tech would be coming out to do the router set-up on Wednesday at that any fees would be waived.

We’re also sending his story to our contacts at AT&T to make sure that James isn’t charged for a phantom router.