I’m very, VERY angry with AT&T right now. Not surprised? Me neither. After the MMS and tethering delay, and ridiculous upgrade rates after the iPhone 3GS launch it seems like AT&T is on everyone’s list. Friday I had quite an experience with AT&T customer service when I called them regarding an extra $54 worth of charges on my account. Here’s some background information…

Last week Caitlin and I visited our local AT&T store. We both had separate iPhone lines and wanted to get my corporate discount on both. To do this, an AT&T manager transfered the ownership of her account to my name and we were able to add the discount. The manager never alluded to any charges that would be added as a result of these changes. Fast forward a week. I noticed there was a $36 “Sponsorship Fee” and a $18 “Transfer of Service” fee added to my bill. I had a feeling these had something to do with our recent account activity so I promptly called AT&T to dispute the charges.

The first representative I spoke to wasn’t very helpful at all. After arguing with her for a little, I asked to speak with her manager. She put me on hold for awhile before telling me that her manager was busy, but they could waive the $18 transfer of service fee since I was never initially informed of it. This was good news, but I still wasn’t planning to pay the $36 sponsorship fee. She informed me that this was a new policy that was added less than a month ago. The fee is charged when you add a Foundation Account Number (or FAN for short) to the account. These numbers are used for corporate discounts. Under this new policy, anyone who adds a FAN number to an account that has been active for more than 30 days will get hit with this new fee. Since our account has been active for a year, we were charged the $36 to add the discount.

I don’t understand why there is any charge when adding a discount onto the account. That just seems completely backwards to me! I eventually got to speak with the manager, Bryan Nigh, who was an “Escalation Specialist”. (Seems like the worst job EVER..but that’s a topic for another day.) He informed me that “nobody can remove this fee.” At this point I was very frustrated and decided I would call back later.

Friday night I called AT&T again and spoke with another lady who kept telling me that the account was not under my name… So, I concluded she was wildly incompetent, and hung up. I called back and got a smarter CS rep who informed me that they could not waive either charge because my account was flagged as “hot” (I think?). Maybe this is what happens when you yell at an Escalation Specialist? Anyway, I asked to speak with her manager and she came back with a similar response: they could waive the $18 fee but it was “impossible” to waive the $36 sponsorship fee. Alas, I gave up. It seems like this fee is pretty hard to get removed (at least while the policy is still new, I assume).

There might be some light at the end of the tunnel if AT&T fails to extend their exclusive iPhone contract by the end of this year. Hopefully Apple has been watching closely and realizes that AT&T is a major blemish on the iPhone’s reputation. They would be crazy not to allow Verizon to get the iPhone in 2010. I’ll definitely be first in line.


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