new AT&T Wireless administration fee

Archived From: Finance
  • 12 3 458
  • Page
  • Text Only
You are correct barryspar, no matter what CSRs say, it should not be imposed on mid-contract customers. In fact, the notification in the bill directs you to a web page that details additional charges which states

"Additional Charges

The additional charges for new customers in your area are shown below, including explanations of each charge."

As I told my CSR when I called, I am not a new customer!

I support those who are placated by credits and those who are determined to terminate the agreement. The point is that customers are angry, and even a customer who will stick out the remainder of the agreement will think twice about where to buy their service in the future. .

I'd like to cancel and port my number to a Tmobile prepaid. enc0re posted that he was able to successfully cancel without ETF, but that they immediately terminated the service. Do you lose the number at that point, or can I still transfer it to Tmo? Or is it better to transfer to Tmo, let AT&T charge ETF, then get it waived (I wouldn't think this is the way to go)?

I have 6 months left on contract and really didn't feel like spending too much time on this so I called up and said I'd like ETF waived or get a one time credit. Person was very nice and got with supervisor/etc and first offered $15 credit (as that would be cost to end of contract for the 3 lines) but I said I wanted $25. So she went ahead and gave me $25 credit. The part that confused me is what happens if I go to arbitration and the ETF is waived - do they cancel my service right then and there? I didn't want this to happen so I just went with the $25 credit which covers the fee for 13 months. This way in December I can look and see what options I have when my contract expires but even if I do nothing the fee will be paid for months past that.

Called and got a $25 credit after some arguing. Thanks op for the notice.

BingBlangBlaow said:   I'd like to cancel and port my number to a Tmobile prepaid. enc0re posted that he was able to successfully cancel without ETF, but that they immediately terminated the service. Do you lose the number at that point, or can I still transfer it to Tmo? Or is it better to transfer to Tmo, let AT&T charge ETF, then get it waived (I wouldn't think this is the way to go)?

They don't have to cut your service immediately to release you from the ETF. When they do so its almost always because the CS rep you are talking to is mad. I think if you make it clear you want to maintain service ETF-free they are unlikely to do this, but it can happen. In the end it depends on how much you value your number when dealing with this outside arbitration. Just a guess but I'd put this sort of hositle reaction at 5-10% of total ETF waivers they do. If it were me, and I absolutely had to keep the number I have, I would port it first then dispute the ETF but be prepared to go all the way to arbitration if you do that.

In arbitration the arbitrator will at the hearing specifically ask for the remedy (if you get there), and at that point you say you want the ETF removed but wish to continue service until finding a new carrier. Or, if AT&T offers to settle before arbitration (more likely), they will give you a number to call and someone to talk to - at which point you indicate you just want the ETF removed for now but don't want service terminated.

robstrash said:   I have 6 months left on contract and really didn't feel like spending too much time on this so I called up and said I'd like ETF waived or get a one time credit. Person was very nice and got with supervisor/etc and first offered $15 credit (as that would be cost to end of contract for the 3 lines) but I said I wanted $25. So she went ahead and gave me $25 credit. The part that confused me is what happens if I go to arbitration and the ETF is waived - do they cancel my service right then and there? I didn't want this to happen so I just went with the $25 credit which covers the fee for 13 months. This way in December I can look and see what options I have when my contract expires but even if I do nothing the fee will be paid for months past that.

I'm going to reiterate this again: you are essentially shooting yourself in the foot by accepting a credit related to this event if you are intending to take it to arbitration. AT&T will argue that you have accepted an alternate remedy, and they would be correct. Your chances of winning arbitration in such a case - in my opinion as an arbitrator - go from about 90% to 30% or less. It would take a very compelling argument, one I am not even sure I can come up with, to demonstrate that you should be given contractual remedy when you inquired about and openly accepted an alternative remedy. There is a reason why AT&T is being so easy and free with these credits and not giving push back - they know when you ask for it and they give it they have just offered a $25 credit for a problem in which you could have been given $1000 (arbitration costs + etf fee + money for your time).

To answer your other question, ETF termination is different from service termination. What they are supposed to do is terminate the ETF and now you are a month-to-month customer without contract. That doesn't mean you won't get a angry CS rep who will do them both at the same time, but again, its unlikely to happen.

Thanks, called and explained they violated the terms of the contract. As soon as the rep sounded confused I asked nicely to speak to their supervisor. On the third superviser they claimed it was a valid charge (sounded like a broken record). But they agreed to three 25 dollar credits. That's all I really wanted so I took it.

It may seem funny to some of you, but many people don't want to go through the hassle of arbitration and are otherwise happy with their at+t service. If that's the case, the easiest thing to do is to just call in and grab a credit. I did that with Sprint before finally jumping to prepaid. I really didn't want out, just wanted a couple bucks back in my pocket.

scrouds said:   It may seem funny to some of you, but many people don't want to go through the hassle of arbitration and are otherwise happy with their at+t service. If that's the case, the easiest thing to do is to just call in and grab a credit. I did that with Sprint before finally jumping to prepaid. I really didn't want out, just wanted a couple bucks back in my pocket.

No one is arguing otherwise, I'm just pointing out that if you do so you've basically lost the arbitration case - as there were multiple people claiming they called in, got a credit, and were doing arbitration. Also, if your going to do it just for a credit, you can do a lot better than $0.61 x number of months left on the contract, which was the other thing I was pointing out.

Well I decided to mail the letter certified. We'll see how that goes. I would prefer not to terminate AT&T because the premium is worth it over T Mobile (plus I am a grandfathered unlimited iPhone data customer) but I am ready to pull the trigger if it goes to arbitration, but will settle for the right price.

I'm overall happy with my AT&T service so I have no intention of cancelling, nor would I really save enough money moving to prepaid to make it worthwhile nor do I really have much interest in Sprint, Verizon or T-Mobile as an alternative carrier. That said...

I have been with AT&T since '98 and currently have 4 phones on the share everything plan that is part of a FAN account, three lines are in contract. I called in to the main cs number, used the cancel option and after calmly and patiently dealing with the CS rep, I was transferred to a manager who offered me 3x $35 credits. That roughly covers my four lines for 42 months.

As to the cost justification before anyone comments: my total monthly bill runs about $230.00 across four phones or $57.50 per phone vs prepaid straightalk "unlimited" at $48.15 per line (after sales tax). So basically, I'm paying an extra $9.35 per month / $112.2 per year for the privilege of getting a new $600 iPhone subsidised to $199 every 18 months or roughly translated, I'm paying $168 every 18 months to save $400. Works for me.

So if you're ambivalent about retaining the service, but chafe at the additional fee, what's a reasonable credit to ask for?

I'm figuring at least 50% of the ETF fee for the account as a bill credit. Maybe start at 100% and settle for half?

TheTrain said:   
..snip..
I called in to the main cs number, used the cancel option and after calmly and patiently dealing with the CS rep, I was transferred to a manager who offered me 3x $35 credits. That roughly covers my four lines for 42 months.

As to the cost justification before anyone comments: my total monthly bill runs about $230.00 across four phones
..snip..

How much did they give you? Those two numbers don't square.

Standard response of confirmation of letter received back from AT&T Legal Dept.. they will be in touch shortly...

Here is ATT's response to my BBB complaint and my response to BBB:

AT&T investigated X's contact with the Better Business Bureau regarding an administrative fee he is being billed.

Customers were notified on their April 2013 statement, that effective May 1, 2013, the Administrative Fee would be $0.61 per line per month. The Administrative Fee helps defray certain expenses AT&T incurs, including but not limited to: (a) charges AT&T or its agents pay to interconnect with other carriers to deliver calls from AT&T customers to their customers; and (b) charges associated with cell site rents and maintenance. This type of fee is common across the wireless industry. For more information about this fee, customers may visit www.att.com/additionalcharges. Under our Wireless Customer Agreement, in addition to the monthly cost of the rate plan and selected features, customers are responsible for paying certain monthly charges and fees, including administrative fees. Thus, this charge does not reflect a rate plan change, nor a material change to the agreement. If customers cancel service prior to the completion of their contract they will be billed the applicable early termination fee.

AT&T regrets any inconvenience caused by this matter. I spoke with Mr. X on 5/17/2013 and provided him with the information above. The customer stated that he does not agree with the fee.Although I attempted to address Mr. X's complaint, he remains unsatisfied with the resolution.


My response:

1) AT&T stated: "[T]his charge does not reflect a rate plan change." This is not true.

This fee is not a government tax or fee, rather it is intended to cover AT&T's normal operating expenses. AT&T has simply decided to effectively raise prices by pushing some of thier business expenses "below the line", whithout deducting the same amount "above the line". Hence it is the same thing as a rate plan change. The fact they are shifting some of the price to the "Fees" section of the bill does not change this. It is a word game that doesn't change the underlying facts.

If AT&T's assertion were accurate, then they would be whithin thier rights to shift, for example, all of thier personnel expenses to a new fee, and impose a $50 "Payroll Expense Fee" on each customer, while claiming that the rate stayed the same. This is clearly absurd.

In the course of our coversation I asked Ms. X this very question, "Does AT&T believe that it is within their right to add a fee of $50 to existing customers as long as they call it a 'fee'?" She only answered "We wouldn't do that."

2) The company's statement that the change is "not material" is false. A price increase of any magnitude is "material."

3) All the rest of AT&T's response, i.e. that the charge is common in the industry, and that customers were notified, etc. has no bearing on the issue at the heart of our complaint.We are not contesting AT&T's right to invent new fees when entering into an agreement with a customer. We are contesting the company's right to impose them during an existing contractual agreement.

4) On a final note we should say that the whole idea doesn't pass the "duck test" to any reasonable person. If it looks like a price hike, feels like a price hike, and sounds like a price hike, then that's what it is.

AT&T ought to be ashamed of this shameless money grab. As I stated in the complaint, it's only 61 cents, but multiplied per user per month it amounts to 3/4 of a billion dollars a year.

calwatch said:   Well I decided to mail the letter certified. We'll see how that goes. I would prefer not to terminate AT&T because the premium is worth it over T Mobile (plus I am a grandfathered unlimited iPhone data customer) but I am ready to pull the trigger if it goes to arbitration, but will settle for the right price.

Even I had sent a notice of dispute in certified mail 2 weeks back. Sample letter can be downloaded here http://www.att.com/esupport/article.jsp?sid=KB72565&cv=820#fbid=...

AT&Ts legal department is looking into it.

Section 10 of the arbitration agreement, at http://www.att.com/esupport/article.jsp?sid=KB72565 says:

"The Alternative Payment. If the arbitrator grants you relief that exceeds AT&T's last written settlement offer before the arbitrator is appointed, then AT&T will pay you the amount of the award, or $10,000, whichever is greater. If AT&T did not make a written offer to settle the dispute, you will be entitled to receive this alternative payment if the arbitrator awards you any relief at all on the merits."

So, if you take this to arbitration, and the arbitrator grants you $0.61, then AT&T will apparently pay you $10,000.

I encourage everyone to ask for arbitration on this. I don't see how this can be correct, but that's what the plain language of the arbitration agreement says. "If AT&T did not make a written offer to settle the dispute, you will be entitled to receive this alternative payment if the arbitrator awards you any relief at all on the merits."

dwalkerwk said:   Section 10 of the arbitration agreement, at http://www.att.com/esupport/article.jsp?sid=KB72565 says:

"The Alternative Payment. If the arbitrator grants you relief that exceeds AT&T's last written settlement offer before the arbitrator is appointed, then AT&T will pay you the amount of the award, or $10,000, whichever is greater. If AT&T did not make a written offer to settle the dispute, you will be entitled to receive this alternative payment if the arbitrator awards you any relief at all on the merits."

So, if you take this to arbitration, and the arbitrator grants you $0.61, then AT&T will apparently pay you $10,000.

I encourage everyone to ask for arbitration on this. I don't see how this can be correct, but that's what the plain language of the arbitration agreement says. "If AT&T did not make a written offer to settle the dispute, you will be entitled to receive this alternative payment if the arbitrator awards you any relief at all on the merits."


This, to me, means that as soon as AT&T is confident that you plan to take the issue to arbitration, then they will settle for a reasonable amount. Arbitration is a risky proposition for AT&T.

I'm going to speculate that AT&T will want to settle only after the month of May has ended. That way, their settlement won't encourage other people to enter into arbitration (because it will be too late for them to complain).

As for me, my notice of dispute generated just one call from a "customer appeals manager from the executive office". I've returned the call a couple of times, but they won't return my phone calls. If I were more cynical then I would think that they are just trying to slow down the whole process. It is strange that it takes 3 weeks or so to return a phone call.

livedog said:   dwalkerwk said:   Section 10 of the arbitration agreement, at http://www.att.com/esupport/article.jsp?sid=KB72565 says:

"The Alternative Payment. If the arbitrator grants you relief that exceeds AT&T's last written settlement offer before the arbitrator is appointed, then AT&T will pay you the amount of the award, or $10,000, whichever is greater. If AT&T did not make a written offer to settle the dispute, you will be entitled to receive this alternative payment if the arbitrator awards you any relief at all on the merits."

So, if you take this to arbitration, and the arbitrator grants you $0.61, then AT&T will apparently pay you $10,000.

I encourage everyone to ask for arbitration on this. I don't see how this can be correct, but that's what the plain language of the arbitration agreement says. "If AT&T did not make a written offer to settle the dispute, you will be entitled to receive this alternative payment if the arbitrator awards you any relief at all on the merits."


This, to me, means that as soon as AT&T is confident that you plan to take the issue to arbitration, then they will settle for a reasonable amount. Arbitration is a risky proposition for AT&T.

I'm going to speculate that AT&T will want to settle only after the month of May has ended. That way, their settlement won't encourage other people to enter into arbitration (because it will be too late for them to complain).

As for me, my notice of dispute generated just one call from a "customer appeals manager from the executive office". I've returned the call a couple of times, but they won't return my phone calls. If I were more cynical then I would think that they are just trying to slow down the whole process. It is strange that it takes 3 weeks or so to return a phone call.


Yeah, I'd be careful of the alternative payment language. The arbitrator will be aware of AT&T's settlement offer. And AT&T will always offer to settle if it gets that far. Do not go out of the gate asking for $10,000 - wait to see the award and you might get lucky...but its unlikely. I haven't read the entire contract but I would bet that language is mitigated somewhere else.

Make sure you document all phone calls between you and AT&T. Although you can't argue for more money because they dragged this out (your suspicion is correct in my opinion), dragging things out like this can give the appearance (if not the reality) of acting in bad faith - which can be a aggravating factor in your favor in the event of arbitration.

I called in ATT they said it is their right to change fee. So I said it it breach of contract therefor I should have a right to walk away the contract. Then they offer $10 for 1year and I reject it, and I am writing notice of dispute. I

magika said:   People, I can't stress this enough: although you have a small chance at being successful via phone, you are almost certainly going to be denied. It doesn't matter what excuse they give you, you can arbitrate this and you will likely win. AT&T knows this, that is why they are offering you random credits to placate you. The only reason why anyone should be calling is to establish that you have notified them that you object to the fee. If you accept the credits they give you, you will make it harder to win in arbitration because it makes it look like you are OK with an alternative remedy. The section they are quoting clearly does not allow them to do this. The administration fee is NOT imposed by the government, it is a fee they made up to pass on some of their regulation costs. By providing you with advance notice on your billing statement about the fee, they are admitting its considered a material change.

Hi,

Just Stumbled upon this thread. So do we need any sort of legal/bonded paper to submit this message of yours(after modifying with correct name ofcourse) Or is it good as is and sent to AT&T by physical mail.

Also, as someone mentioned that AT&T sent notices a month back, is it too late in my case to submit. I have auto pay setup and hence did not know about this. I recently got into contract (may be 3-4 months back or even less) and upgraded to the new Nokia Lumia phones (2). So, by ending contract/sending letter, does that mean I have to return the phones ?

TIA

MysteriousGirl said:   magika said:   People, I can't stress this enough: although you have a small chance at being successful via phone, you are almost certainly going to be denied. It doesn't matter what excuse they give you, you can arbitrate this and you will likely win. AT&T knows this, that is why they are offering you random credits to placate you. The only reason why anyone should be calling is to establish that you have notified them that you object to the fee. If you accept the credits they give you, you will make it harder to win in arbitration because it makes it look like you are OK with an alternative remedy. The section they are quoting clearly does not allow them to do this. The administration fee is NOT imposed by the government, it is a fee they made up to pass on some of their regulation costs. By providing you with advance notice on your billing statement about the fee, they are admitting its considered a material change.

Hi,

Just Stumbled upon this thread. So do we need any sort of legal/bonded paper to submit this message of yours(after modifying with correct name ofcourse) Or is it good as is and sent to AT&T by physical mail.

Also, as someone mentioned that AT&T sent notices a month back, is it too late in my case to submit. I have auto pay setup and hence did not know about this. I recently got into contract (may be 3-4 months back or even less) and upgraded to the new Nokia Lumia phones (2). So, by ending contract/sending letter, does that mean I have to return the phones ?

TIA


No special paper needed, just edit it to fit your case and submit (once you get to the brief stage - you have to send a letter of intent first with AT&T). Note that it is more than just putting in your name...there are some details that you will need to change depending on your situation so make sure you do that. The contract provides you have 1 month from their notice of material change to dispute it, and since it appeared on last month's billing statements you have until June 1 - so there is still time but time is running out.

Nothing happens just by virtue of sending the brief, the arbitrator still has to rule on it (after the in-person hearing, or by writing or phone - they usually offer all 3 options but I strongly suggest in-person). Assuming you win, which I again think is very likely assuming you follow everything I've posted here, then you don't have to return the phones. Note however AT&T may try to settle with you by releasing you from the contract if you return the phones, or AT&T may bring it up at the hearing if the phones are new (I'd say > 4 months your fine, < 4 months this might come up). If you decline the settlement offer and go to arbitration, the arbitrator can make it a requirement of the award that you return the phones.

I know this discussion has focused on the arbitration process. What do you all think about using small claims court rather than arbitration? The arbitration clause specifically permits small-claims court as an option.

I'm an attorney and have usually favored small claims court because 1) I'm legally trained and familiar with the process (never done arbitration) and 2) Attorneys are not allowed Ė unless you are an individual party. Thus, in court, I would be going up against a non-attorney, probably giving me an advantage.

I'm thinking of fighting my contract in hopes of getting out of it and to learn about arbitration in the process.

I do have two concerns about it. 1) AT&T pays the arbitration company (don't they?) Although magika says they are fair Ė and I have no reason to doubt that, they money issue makes me nervous. I can't help think that someone paid by AT&T might favor AT&T. 2) I'm nervous that an arbitrator would be more likely to split the baby. Here, the .61 cents is somewhat de-minimus. But from a strict legal standpoint, we have a winning case. A judge would be more likely to be legalistic and hand us a complete win whereas an arbitrator might be more swayed by the equities and the small amount involved.

Am I off-base here? What do you all think about these concerns (particularly magika)?

Thanks all!

^That is an interesting and complex question!

Concerning arbitration generally and the impact of being compensated by one side in some cases, like most (BUT NOT ALL - there are consumer arbitration cases where the fees are awarded to the winner, or where the consumer pays a nominal fee) consumer arbitration:

As you know the popular consensus is that going to court is always better than arbitration because you "get your day in court" and all the protections/benefits that implies. Also,a as you know as an attorney, people hate being put into binding arbitration, and personally I do think the general distrust of the arbitration process has some validity. When you go to arbitration you are taking the chance that you will end up with someone either (1) generally incompetent OR (2) someone who is in the company's pocket deciding your case, but I don't think that chance is very high. AT&T uses the American Arbitration Association (AAA), and it is NOT easy getting on the AAA roster. Concerning (1) I can't even get on the AAA roster yet because I don't have 10 years experience yet even though I handle 5-20 cases a year and have been picked by some very big industry names to hear very cases with very high amounts of money involved. (2) I would not be concerned how the arbitrator gets paid for this reason: even if a company is paying the arbitrator, it is never in the arbitrators own personal interests to rule in the company's favor every time because of that. Arbitrators are selected on a case by case basis, and the big cases that are most lucrative both parties will ask for recent rulings (with identifying information removed) when they are considering you for their case. A pattern of overwhelmingly ruling for either side is always seen as suspicious, and no one will want to use you as arbitrator if they suspect any sort of bias. If all your recent rulings are in favor of a company, your logic in those rulings better strongly support the award. No arbitrator is going to put their reputation on the line by being a AT&T company man/woman and always ruling in their favor. This is an industry where your reputation precedes you. Anyone who gets a reputation for bias, or gets a reputation for handing down social justice, will be unemployed. Also remember that either you or AT&T can object to the AAA's recommended appointment and you as the consumer have a right to ask them for examples of their recent consumer arbitration awards. Everyone in this should do so, and you should read the arbitrator's analysis (not just the award section at the end).

Concerning arbitration as it applies to these type of cases:

I do think that for many (most) cases, if you have a court option its better than using an arbitrator. But this is not one of those times, and the reasoning may surprise you. As you point out the amount involved here is de minimus. But arbitrators are compelled to stick within the four corners of the contract language, we are not allowed (and won't be able to get a job - see above) if we go outside of that when the contract language is clear and obvious unless someone has a valid past practices argument. In cases involving consumer contracts where one of the classic arbitration arguments are in your favor (examples - clear and everyday language, past practices, disparate impact or treatment, etc.), then the arbitrator is overwhelmingly likely to award you the case and reasonable compensation. Of course reasonable is subjective, but contrary to popular belief most arbitrators will not engage in "splitting the baby" unless and only unless there is no clear winner given the contract language and none of the typical arguments in favor of either side apply. Here we have a case where if you keep going back to the contract language (which is what arbitrators are trained to stick to) the consumer is the clear winner. Without a definition of material changes, and with the contract stating any changes in service cost enable you get out of the contract, arbitrators are highly likely award you the case. Contrast that to small claims judges, where they have no tradition or even need to stick to the contract language. In my experience in small claims the relaxed evidence standards mean anything goes, which can be a good thing for the consumer, but not in cases like this. The judge might decide to stick with the contract, they may not - but you are operating in an environment where it is normal for them to apply their own concepts of justice and go outside the contract. By that I mean judges when they have the latitude to do so in places like small claims are going to be more susceptible to arguments like AT&T pointing out that the fee here is small and unless your in poverty the amount is immaterial. Unlike arbitrators, judges don't have to worry about getting future work - they still get to be judge and no one will be closely inspecting their decisions for patterns of bias if they decide to apply their own definition of "material contract change" in cases like this.

Called in, complained that the fee was not allowable by contract terms. They gave the usual excuses - "this is not an increase in service, just a fee." I argued that if that were true, they could add a $200 fee and it would be allowable. She retorted that "we wouldn't do that," to which I said "right, because you're not allowed to under the contract, just as you aren't allowed to add a 61 cent fee." Eventually asked for a supervisor, who parroted the same stuff. When I brought up arbitration, the supervisor said I am welcome to go the arbitration route and that was pretty much the end of the conversation.

I was asking for a waive of the ETF fees for cancelling 4 family plan lines, but I was hoping for them to offer a credit as others have reported. I don't want to move carriers, so I don't want to cancel my contract ETF-fee. I want at a minimum, the fee rebated for the remainder of the contract, though would prefer more of course. Is there a better way to go about that? I know I am giving up future arbitration opportunity by taking a credit, but we won't be switching carriers, so I just want compensation.

I wish wireless internet would really take off across the country. Wireless VOIP would have these carriers dead in the water. I live in Korea right now so I'm free from the monthly grind of Verizon taking my hard earned money, but when I get back in a few years, it'll be the same ol' song.

magika said:   Assuming you win, which I again think is very likely assuming you follow everything I've posted here, then you don't have to return the phones. Note however AT&T may try to settle with you by releasing you from the contract if you return the phones, or AT&T may bring it up at the hearing if the phones are new (I'd say > 4 months your fine, < 4 months this might come up). If you decline the settlement offer and go to arbitration, the arbitrator can make it a requirement of the award that you return the phones.
For what its worth, the contract is pretty clear that you do no need to return the phone: From Clause 1.3: "AND YOU MAY TERMINATE THIS AGREEMENT WITHOUT PAYING AN EARLY TERMINATION FEE OR RETURNING OR PAYING FOR ANY PROMOTIONAL ITEMS, PROVIDED YOUR NOTICE OF TERMINATION IS DELIVERED TO USE WITHIN THIRTY (30) DAYS AFTER THE FIRST BILL REFLECTING THE CHANGE"

So I called AT&T yesterday to attempt to end my contract without the ETF. It failed. The guy was nice and offered me a $30 credit. I politely declined and asked him to note my objection to the fee in his records. He agreed - and that was that.

The next issue if whether to fight. My issue is that I'm 17 months into my contract. At best, I might shave five months off my contract. Further, I'm eligible for an upgrade in about two weeks. So if I got a new iPhone, HTC One or SG4, I would save nothing since I would be right back on contract. I pay AT&T $62 monthly due to an awesome government discount. (Get hot new phone for $200 / $62 a month / Unlimited (5GB) / LTE / no tether)
.
The other thing I could do is break my contract, get charged $150 or so, and go T-Mobile and buy a Nexus 4. I could probably get a decent prepaid plan for about $50 or so, but would not get LTE and the coverage would not be as good. (granted I could tether). Then, any fight with AT&T would be about the $150. (Get kinda old phone for $300 + $150 (which I might win back) / $50 a month / 5GB / HSPA+ 42 / tether)

Honestly, I think Iím probably better off with AT&T. Iím feeling like I should just take the credit, even though Iím itching for this fight since I know Iím on damn good legal ground.

livedog said:   magika said:   Assuming you win, which I again think is very likely assuming you follow everything I've posted here, then you don't have to return the phones. Note however AT&T may try to settle with you by releasing you from the contract if you return the phones, or AT&T may bring it up at the hearing if the phones are new (I'd say > 4 months your fine, < 4 months this might come up). If you decline the settlement offer and go to arbitration, the arbitrator can make it a requirement of the award that you return the phones.
For what its worth, the contract is pretty clear that you do no need to return the phone: From Clause 1.3: "AND YOU MAY TERMINATE THIS AGREEMENT WITHOUT PAYING AN EARLY TERMINATION FEE OR RETURNING OR PAYING FOR ANY PROMOTIONAL ITEMS, PROVIDED YOUR NOTICE OF TERMINATION IS DELIVERED TO USE WITHIN THIRTY (30) DAYS AFTER THE FIRST BILL REFLECTING THE CHANGE"


Thanks for pointing out, thats what I get for speaking before reading the contract (how very not arbitrator like!).

dukerau said:    I don't want to move carriers, so I don't want to cancel my contract ETF-fee. I want at a minimum, the fee rebated for the remainder of the contract, though would prefer more of course. Is there a better way to go about that? I know I am giving up future arbitration opportunity by taking a credit, but we won't be switching carriers, so I just want compensation.

I think you are unlikely to get that, especially when we are this far into the month and AT&T has probably handed out millions in credits thus far. Situations like this are something of a "call my bluff" game from AT&T's perspective. Even if you would win in arbitration most of the time and they know that, they also know most people don't want to go through that. People in this thread have been reporting huge amounts of variance in the credits they get when they aren't looking to get out of the ETF but just want to act like they do to get credit. I suspect that AT&T has a formula for how much credit you get based on your contract length, type of plan you have, and how long you've been with them. Once you hit that limit, they are unlikely go over it unless they seriously suspect you are intending to arbitrate. How do you make them suspect that? Filing the letter of intent and BBB complaint declaring your intention to do so - but given that we are almost into June, its probably to late to do that and have it work its way into their system.

dtrizzle said:   

Honestly, I think Iím probably better off with AT&T. Iím feeling like I should just take the credit, even though Iím itching for this fight since I know Iím on damn good legal ground.


With 5 months left I think it totally dependent on how much you value your time. You are probably looking at 6-8 hours (hearing time, travel time, editing the generic brief) if you use my generic brief or 8-15 if you want to do your own brief. Is that worth getting out of the ETF 5 months early to you? Remember that it could take 2-3 months to complete arbitration, although given your ETF is only $150 I think AT&T would settle quickly (1 month or so).

magika said:   dukerau said:    I don't want to move carriers, so I don't want to cancel my contract ETF-fee. I want at a minimum, the fee rebated for the remainder of the contract, though would prefer more of course. Is there a better way to go about that? I know I am giving up future arbitration opportunity by taking a credit, but we won't be switching carriers, so I just want compensation.

I think you are unlikely to get that, especially when we are this far into the month and AT&T has probably handed out millions in credits thus far. Situations like this are something of a "call my bluff" game from AT&T's perspective. Even if you would win in arbitration most of the time and they know that, they also know most people don't want to go through that. People in this thread have been reporting huge amounts of variance in the credits they get when they aren't looking to get out of the ETF but just want to act like they do to get credit. I suspect that AT&T has a formula for how much credit you get based on your contract length, type of plan you have, and how long you've been with them. Once you hit that limit, they are unlikely go over it unless they seriously suspect you are intending to arbitrate. How do you make them suspect that? Filing the letter of intent and BBB complaint declaring your intention to do so - but given that we are almost into June, its probably to late to do that and have it work its way into their system.


I was able to get the credit for the remaining of my contract months via online chat last week.

I was given a courtesy credit of $30 off per month for my next 3 months ($90 total) when I called in today. I have 5 lines on my account, and I am still under contract for all 5 (which the rep mentioned).

Another poster received $40 x 3, but I was sufficiently happy with the $30 x 3 and didn't feel like trying to push for more

tchen811 said:   
I was able to get the credit for the remaining of my contract months via online chat last week.


Which just adds another data point that their methodology for giving credits appears to be based on some hidden criteria, given the amount of variation.

Timely blog post on arbitration by a highly respected blog: http://priceonomics.com/outsourcing-the-legal-system/

herrtodd said:   TheTrain said:   
..snip..
I called in to the main cs number, used the cancel option and after calmly and patiently dealing with the CS rep, I was transferred to a manager who offered me 3x $35 credits. That roughly covers my four lines for 42 months.

As to the cost justification before anyone comments: my total monthly bill runs about $230.00 across four phones
..snip..

How much did they give you? Those two numbers don't square.


I stated the credit they gave was 3x $35 for a total of $105 in the first sentance you snipped. I guess I did fail to state that I accepted that offer.

My cost justification section does not factor in the credits they issued but my normal recurring monthly costs as that was intended to portry my nominal monthly costs verses a prepaid plan at roughly $48.15 per line after sales tax (StraightTalk). The three months credits will reduce that monthly rate to approximately $195/mo for the next three months, and then return to the nominal monthly rate so I do not consider those in my long term budget in much the same way I do not factor in FW shopping practices that I would utilize to get a prepaid service for cheaper (coupons, 6 month discount, etc) since both are only temporary cost reduction events.

BBB closed my case yesterday as AT&T was not giving up.

Got a call from AT&T attorney today regarding my dispute.

I have to sign a non disclosure agreement before we proceed with settlement talk.

I received a call from AT&T attorney as well, and they too are sending MNDA to offer settlement

EDIT: something to keep in mind for everyone, it's a *MINIMUM* cost of $125 for AT&T to enter arbitration as they pay for it regardless of the outcome, not even including their time and resources in actually dealing with the case. If they believe you're willing to go that far, they're going to take into account these costs.. it's a business, it's all about the money.

bullorbear said:   BBB closed my case yesterday as AT&T was not giving up.

Got a call from AT&T attorney today regarding my dispute.

I have to sign a non disclosure agreement before we proceed with settlement talk.


Where in the contract does it say arbitration is contingent on signing an NDA?

elektronic said:   bullorbear said:   BBB closed my case yesterday as AT&T was not giving up.

Got a call from AT&T attorney today regarding my dispute.

I have to sign a non disclosure agreement before we proceed with settlement talk.


Where in the contract does it say arbitration is contingent on signing an NDA?


It's not, this is part of their "settlement" process. Customer is under no obligation to sign this, but to hear their "best settlement" they require it. Will be curious to see it when it comes in...



Disclaimer: By providing links to other sites, FatWallet.com does not guarantee, approve or endorse the information or products available at these sites, nor does a link indicate any association with or endorsement by the linked site to FatWallet.com.

Thanks for visiting FatWallet.com. Join for free to remove this ad.

TRUSTe online privacy certification

While FatWallet makes every effort to post correct information, offers are subject to change without notice.
Some exclusions may apply based upon merchant policies.
© 1999-2014