My girlfriend’s phone is not repairable — so why should she continue to pay for it?

Kristen Chew’s Samsung Galaxy Note 4 was a dud. It kept freezing up, overheating, crashing and rebooting when she tried to use it. On the few occasions she was able to use the phone, its response time was too slow. And, although the phone was still under warranty, she could not get it repaired successfully.

Eventually the phone stopped working altogether. But Chew had purchased the phone under a payment plan from AT&T, which refused to replace the phone or stop charging Chew for payment.

But she wasn’t out of luck. Her boyfriend, Andre Klass, wrote a letter to AT&T that turned her situation around.

Klass is a repeat visitor to our site. We first heard from him in 2011, when he asked for help in getting CompUSA to honor a warranty covering a broken computer chassis. A few years later, we assisted him in recovering the cost of a defective water heater.

So when Klass shared his letter to AT&T with us as an example of successful self-advocacy, we lost no time in securing his permission to share it with our readers.

Klass clearly paid attention to our advice to write polite, concise letters to the executives we list on our website, starting with the lowest-ranking person and allowing him or her adequate time to respond before escalating to the next person in the corporate hierarchy.

Here are excerpts from Klass’ letter to Randy Shackelford, the primary contact listed in our company contacts section for AT&T mobile phone service:

In October 2016 … [a service center] manager diagnosed the phone as having a bad battery. After the diagnosis, it took over two months for the battery to be ordered and received; during this time the warranty period had elapsed. After the battery was replaced, the problem continued, and in January another battery was ordered by the service center, but this still did not resolve the issues.

We attempted to go back to the service center in March, only to find that AT&T had closed all of the service centers. We subsequently visited [other] AT&T stores, where representatives have all diagnosed the phone as having a bad motherboard, but they advise that they cannot offer further assistance citing the phone now being out of warranty. [They] state that the only option at this point would be to buy a replacement phone, but because Kristen is still under a contract payment obligation on this phone’s plan, she would not be able to buy a new phone.

The symptoms had progressively worsened to the point where the phone stopped turning on and was completely unusable. We spoke to [AT&T’s] customer service. [The representative] also advised that AT&T would offer no remedy on this matter because the phone is now outside the warranty period. …

I called the customer service line again. [The representative] talked to his manager, but his manager’s hands were also tied by the corporate policy preventing from being allowed to directly warranty replace this phone. He did however arrange for a lesser model of phone, a Galaxy Express Prime 2, to be shipped to my home at no charge, so that Kristen would have a working phone to use. While we are very appreciative for [his] assistance, however it is still not an equitable resolution to be in a situation where around $600 is being paid on a $130 phone.

I attempted to reach out to the social media team through Twitter [and] I have left voicemails which have gone unanswered. Unfortunately, it seems that the social media team is very overly inundated with requests and unable to keep up.

I am requesting your help to arrange for AT&T to do the right thing and arrange for the following satisfactory resolution:

For a credit to be applied to the account for the one-month period where Kristen was not able to use the service under her number, and either
a) An arrangement to be made for the proper warranty repair of the Galaxy Note 4, or for the phone to be replaced with an equivalent or better level device at no charge, or
b) for the outstanding balance remaining due on the Note 4 to be waived, and a credit to be applied to the account for the difference in value between the non-working Note 4 and the Galaxy Prime 2.

Your swift response would be greatly appreciated. Thank you and have a great day.

The day after Klass emailed the above letter to Shackelford, he received a call from AT&T’s corporate office. AT&T agreed to credit the full amount that Chew paid for the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 toward the purchase of a replacement device.

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“Since the purchase price was $648 with around $200 still due on the purchase plan, this was definitely a satisfactory resolution which will now allow her to get an even better phone,” says Klass.

Using Klass’ success as an example, you too can self-advocate.

Jennifer Finger

Jennifer is the founder of KeenReader, an Internet-based freelance editing operation, as well as a certified public accountant. She is a senior writer for Read more of Jennifer's articles here.

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