E-Mail To Top Execs Makes AT&T Realize, Oh Yeah, My Phone Is Defective

Reader L. needed help from AT&T. Local stores refused him a warranty repair on his Samsung Galaxy S4, saying that he had obviously dropped it and cracked the screen. He insists that he did not, and escalated, drafting a letter to a few top AT&T executives. Within a day, he had a response, a new phone, and an apology.

We don’t want to shame the front-line employees at the store and the warranty center here: “I totally didn’t drop it” is exactly what a person who dropped their phone and wants to weasel a new one out of their carrier would say. L.’s problem wasn’t a cracked screen, though.


I’m hoping you can assist with a warranty rejection. On June 22, 2013, I purchased a Samsung Galaxy S4, at the AT&T store at [redacted], for $199, at which time it was activated. I was extremely pleased with this phone. Yesterday, I checked the screen, but it remained black and would not light. Just 15 minutes before, I had used it with no problems.

I brought it to the same store where the manager pointed out a cracked screen, However, the glass was not cracked. The crack was visible on the display beneath the glass, in the upper right hand corner. I was told it was physical damage and therefore not covered by warranty, and if I wanted it replaced, it would cost $649.

I wish to dispute that, as it was never dropped or sat on or subjected to any physical stress whatsoever. It has been in a case since day one and is carried in a front pocket which holds no other items. I was directed to the AT&T warranty center at [redacted], where I was told the same thing. Today I phoned Customer Support, where I was greeted with sympathy, but no other help. I should point out that all AT&T employees were courteous and professional.

With AT&T, I have successfully used an iphone 4 and an iphone 5. My wife uses an iphone 4. Our long distance landline carrier is also AT&T. This is clearly a manufacturing defect. I am aware that many phone abusers will be untruthful when they claim the phone was not abused or stressed, but that is not the case here.

I believe the phone should be replaced at no charge. Hopefully, you can assist me. My relevant contact information is below.

Thank you in advance for your consideration.

L…… ……

Aspiring executive e-mail carpet bomb writers, take note: this message clocks in at under 300 words without L’s contact information. We did add a few paragraph breaks to make it easier to read.

What happened next? Within 24 hours, a lot happened. L. sent us an update:

Today, in less than 24 hours, I received a call from A&T, office of the president, apologizing for the inconvenience. They agree that this is a manufacturing defect and will replace the defective phone with an identical one, at no cost.

We later got another call form another AT&T officer apologizing. This kind of service and quick response is, in my opinion exceptional and should be praised.

That’s really excellent, and great that AT&T replaced the phone. But isn’t it sad that a company replacing a phone in use for less than a month that has a mechanical defect is considered “exceptional” service?

Want more consumer news? Visit our parent organization, Consumer Reports, for the latest on scams, recalls, and other consumer issues.