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AT&T refused to give me $32 and how I got $375

July 20, 2010

AT&T:  “NO.”

Me:  “Surly you jest.”

First, an AT&T store rep said no. Then her manager said no. Then the AT&T 611 customer service rep said no and her manager said no. Apple said no, too.

My mom taught me many things and tops on that list: persistence. You get what you want simply because you hold on when everyone else gives up.

My initial request: $32.49. Reasonable, fair, and rejected.
I was finally given: $264.49

The Background: I wanted not to pay a $32.49 restocking fee for returning my iPhone 4. Figured it didn’t make sense to pay 100% for a product that turns out to be defective, and then only get 90% back when I returned it. But everyone said no.

The Result: Today, Apple mailed me a wireless bluetooth headset valued at $80 for the pain in the butt factor experience, and then AT&T paid me $152 for the pain in the butt factor for trying to get my $32.49 restocking fee back, and gave me the $32.49 back.

I tried being patient and reasonable but that didn’t work. Instead of caving and trying to forget about it, I stayed with it and got more than I wanted.

If you’re struggling with AT&T, I recommend trying to talk directly to a manager at the store, and at a call center. I’ve used both before and it’s resolved the issue. If you exhausted reasonable measures, send an email to: rs2982@att.com, the email for the President of AT&T. Within 24 hours you’ll receive a call from his executive response team to solve the problem. Explain what you want reasonably and calmly; it works better than crazy and flaming mad. I also recommend asking what else they will give you for all the inconvenience you went through (that was how I went from just $32.50 to $184.50).

Below is the email I sent. It doesn’t need to be this thorough. I took the time (while sitting on hold) to highlight the details and silliness of their response.

—– Forwarded Message —-

From: Jared Fielding To: rs2982@att.com; steve@apple.comCc: bg@boygeniusreport.comSent: Fri, July 16, 2010 6:31:25 PM

Subject: Experience with iPhone return

I am having the iphone 4 reception issue. I attempted to return the iphone 4 to the att store today. Here’s how it went from the customer side.

The manager at the Kennewick, WA store “Aaron Laredo” (al257u@att.com) stated that he would not refund the $30 restocking fee. I indicated that the product was defective. Why would I be charged a restocking fee for a defective product? Not only did Steve Jobs say “no restocking fee,” I spent $2100+ in 2009 on my AT&T wireless bill for my cellphone. Aaron Laredo was unwilling to budge: $30 was out of the question.

I stayed in the store and called 611. I spoke with customer service and eventually a manager there (Cindy, #CR9603), who also indicated they would not return the $30 restocking fee. Again, I highlight the silliness of being charged to return a defective product.

Getting to this point took over an hour.

Still in the store, I am transferred to Apple, who I am told is my last hope of waiving the restocking fee. “Steven” at Apple states that since it is their defective product, they will handle the refund. I’m told I need to switch the service back to my old iPhone and go home, use my computer to start the return online, and a box will be sent to me to return the iPhone 4. I ask the Apple rep 3 times to please just start the return with him to end this miserable experience. He indicates company policy prevents him from doing so.

I switch the service, return home, and start with the online return. After 20 minutes of trying to figure out how to return it online (mind you, I used to program computers and own a computer business), I call Apple. I’m told that the only way to return the iPhone 4 is to go to ATT. I ask for a manager who says the same thing. I request the manager’s ID number for a reference. The phone call hangs up. That call took 35 minutes. At no point did I flame, swear, or do anything detogatory to any rep. You can replay the taped phone calls.

I am persistent. I call back. The new Apple rep indicates that there are no notes on the account from the last call from the rep or manager (amazing.) I ask to speak directly to a manager (as this is the 3rd time I’ve called Apple in an hour). He confirms everything I described above. Manager (Robby Kinch) appologizes, is very empathetic, and given that I was told bad advice and hung up on, he offers to give me new headphones. I appreciate the gesture (and accept). This call time: 45 minutes.

I return the defective iPhone 4. After doing everything I can think of, I am charged a restocking fee by AT&T for a product that doesn’t work. I’m still mystified.

Jared Fielding

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