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At the end of last year, I decided to leave AT&T wireless and cancel my service with them. I transferred a number to the new carrier and gave up two others. At this time, I became unable to log into their billing website. One of the cancelled numbers was my login ID and it was now rejected by their website.

I was unsure about what I would owe and paid the last bill I was aware of. I received a letter from a couple of months later saying my account was suspended for non-payment. I spent a good 1-2 hours on the phone with a customer service rep. I was asked for a security code which I do not have. The process seemed to be complicated by the fact that I had never actually joined with the company. They had acquired the carrier I had joined with a number of years ago. At the end of the call, I agreed to pay the remaining bill and was assured that I would not be billed anymore.

I am continuing to receive letters with new charges on them as well as suspension notices. I tried to call their billing support but after waiting 30 minutes or so to speak to someone, they refuse to talk to me without the security code that I don't have and (to my knowledge) never had. I asked to speak to a manager and had to wait for another half-hour to be told the same thing.

I've tried logging into their website and use the forgot user ID functionality. I receive an email when I do this but it provides some sort of generated key and says I should enter it in my profile page or something but it is not a valid user ID. I may pursue this line of access but I'm not sure where it will get me.

So I'm left with a company that continues to claim I owe them money but refuses to speak with me about my account. The latest letter they sent says that my account will be cancelled if I do not pay which is fine by me but I don't want to have this sent to collections and affect my credit. I would go ahead and pay off this last amount after it is cancelled but I fear they will reinstate my account and I will be stuck again.

I'm trying to figure out what options I have and how to best get out of this mess. I think this type of thing is becoming a common problem for people so I'm hoping someone has better ideas that what I've come up with:

  • Send a notarized document as a certified letter to the billing department with my request to have my account cancelled permanently
  • File a complaint with my state Attorney General
  • Hire a lawyer to work on my behalf ($$$)
  • Call again with a recording app the rep's refusal to cancel my account (I would inform them they are being recorded for legal purposes)
  • Let this go to collections and dispute this with the bureaus
  • Get on Twitter and blast them as the next Wells Fargo.

I understand that security is a big deal with mobile carriers now but they cannot legally continue to bill me because I don't know a code. Any ideas on my best course from here?

P.S. It seems they were sued successfully for this kind of thing in 2004.

  • At the very least, send the certified letter. At least that way you have proof that you notified them of your cancellation, and that you provided them with a way to bill you for the "final" charges. – Francine DeGrood Taylor May 21 '18 at 16:58
  • @FrancineDeGroodTaylor I think that's a good start but I'm not sure exactly how to prove what they received. I mean that I can show that they received a letter but not what was in it. I think their systems are all screwed up. They said it was business account and asked what business I was calling from. Even if I get the information to the right place, I'm not convinced they will/can resolve this. – JimmyJames May 21 '18 at 17:12
  • I always wondered about that myself, but the fact that certified letters are still being sent must mean they have some kind of legal significance. And I have found that any kind of legal actions (letter from a lawyer being a real big one, but certified letters as well) often causes the matter to be escalated. – Francine DeGrood Taylor May 24 '18 at 17:28
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I've had a few experiences similar to yours and there's a lot of it going around. Ten years ago I was fed up with Bell South and a non phone company agent offering many plans sold me on a better deal from MCI. Well, better in price until the phone and contract arrived and stated otherwise. I returned it all via UPS.

End of month one, MCI billed me. I returned the bill along with a letter explaining that I didn't accept the service. End of month two, I got a bill for 2 months of service. I called customer service and they were willing to rectify the problem. All they needed to get into my account was my SS number and when I provided it, I was told that it was incorrect and they could not resolve it without the proper SS number. LOL. Garbage in, garbage out.

After about 5 or 6 months of back due bills, they turned me over to collections. For the first call, I explained the situation. When they couldn't care less about the facts, I told them to pound sand and to please take me to court and to make sure to bring documentation of usage of the service as well as a signed contract. They eventually left me alone and did not ding my credit. I have an excellent credit rating but I really don't care if they dinged it because it I no longer need credit for anything. So yes, it's a nice folksy story but it surely doesn't help you, eh?

Three years ago, AT&T laid fiber optic cable in my development and the cost for it was actually lower than my current DSL cost. Free installation, a $100 gift card, and some other minor perks. So first, I got a letter threatening to cancel my service for lack of payment. What payment? I had just begun the service and I hadn't even received a bill. I called and they sent me the first month's bill comes which included over $200 of charges above what I should be charged monthly. No free installation, an extra modem charge, etc. as well as a $50 gift card instead of $100. For 2 weeks or so I got the same run around as you did. Multiple phone calls. Promises to remedy the situation but no results. I could no longer log onto my online account to access my bill or make payment and the "forgot user ID/password" functionality was useless. They cancelled my online account. Sound familiar?

I've never done this before but I was so ticked off that I contacted the FCC and lodged a complaint. Within the hour, an FCC rep called and asked for additional details. Within another 3 hours, someone higher up the food chain at AT&T called me and within a few days they resolved the issue. A year later, the same thing happened with my switch to AT&T's DirecTV. I signed up for an $89.95 package and the same thing happened again. Extra excessive charges, etc. After a number of calls, the FCC straightened them out. AT&T is pernicious in their drive to promise while charging for not delivering. And they're not the only one.

Believe it or not, the FCC has teeth. It surprised me. So if you have proper documentation that supports your claim, call them. At least they'll listen :->) ... or if you wish, file a claim at the FCC's web site. Good luck.

  • It is awesome not to need to use credit. I would also like to stop having this need, especially after an episode with an extortionist gym. – sequence Sep 5 at 0:43
  • Just finished 2 year contract with AT&T's DirecTV mentioned in my answer (July). I discontinued their TV service and bill was supposed to drop from $112 to $62 a month. First bill came in at $256 due to their double billing me and not honoring the agreed upon price. I spoke to SEVEN different reps across 10 days and none were able to resolve their errors. So again, it's off to the FCC - more time. After a total of 4 weeks of back and forth and four credits, I'm now paying $62, as promised. I don't understand their business plan - probably 1000's of wasted customer service man hours. – Bob Baerker Sep 5 at 1:31
  • It is always best to pay as you go. No scummy credit hook then. – sequence Sep 5 at 1:50

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