AT&T lured me back with a great rate, so where is it?

When Kim Wacek switches from AT&T to Comcast for a better rate, AT&T counters with a better offer. Then the company fails to honor its new rate. Can this bill be fixed?

Question: Can you help me get AT&T to honor the contract it promised? My one-year AT&T internet and TV contract ended recently. Before that, I had tried to negotiate a new contract, but the prices were outrageous. So I switched to Xfinity.

An AT&T representative called and offered two years of service at $83 a month — as the representative said, less than I had been paying for exactly the same service. Plus, he threw in a $100 gift card for my problems. I switched back.

I received the gift card, but my bill, with taxes, went from $95 to $120. I spent hours online and on the phone with AT&T. Although they offered $120 credit, they refused to honor the $83 rate. It seems like AT&T makes promises but you can never, ever, ever, ever get them to honor them. Can you please assist? — Kim Wacek, Wilton Manors, Fla.

Answer: AT&T should have honored your $83 monthly rate. This backpedaling with a partial refund doesn’t work for you, and it doesn’t work for me, either.

Allow me a minute to talk about prices “with taxes.” AT&T has the capability of quoting you an all-in rate on your TV and internet service, and you were under the impression that it had. Companies that quote prices before taxes are lying. They want you to believe the price is lower than it actually is. But everyone must pay taxes. Until a company can figure out a way for you to avoid taxes (like a VAT refund on European purchases) it has no business — none whatsoever! — quoting you a before-tax rate.

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Here’s the real problem, though. You didn’t get AT&T’s promise in writing. It was, in your words, a “verbal contract.” You need to get rate offers like this in writing, of course. Otherwise, only the company has a record of it, as a call recording kept for “quality” purposes. And unless you have a court order, you can’t access that recording. Convenient, isn’t it?

A brief, polite, written appeal to one of AT&T’s executive contacts — I list them here on my consumer advocacy site — might have helped. But without that promise in writing, it would have been difficult to prove the AT&T employee actually offered you the $83 rate.

Fixing this took a while. I contacted AT&T on your behalf and after weeks of back-and-forth, it finally agreed to honor the rate it had promised, more or less. The company reduced your bill by $51 per month and offered you a $99 credit, which you accepted.

Should companies be required to quote rates with tax included?

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Christopher Elliott

Christopher Elliott is an author, journalist and consumer advocate. You can read more about him on his personal website or check out his adventures on his family adventure travel site. Contact him at Read more of Christopher's articles here.

  • Jeff W.

    Taxes are a complicated thing. While AT&T certainly has the ability, many companies do not. Cities, counties, states all have the ability to add to the tax liability. And let us not throw in special taxing districts, which can make things even worse.

    Even making life more difficult, is that you can get a quoted rate of $83 a month, but the taxes can change at any time. Or a new tax can be added. The company is not going to absorb the rate, it is going to pass it on to the consumer. (and rarely do taxes go down.)

    A consumer has to assume that the price quoted never includes any taxes and fees unless specifically indicated. Even then, there is usually an asterisk.

  • Bill___A

    Although I don’t have a problem with companies not quoting taxes and the like which are collected by third parties, such as sales tax – for example, one can look up the percentage of sales tax and add it…I do have a problem with added on things like “resort fees”. So as long as that $89 was all that AT&T gets – I would be fine with them quoting that way.

  • Kairho

    Aside from many companies being able to calculate taxes and fees on the fly and quote the all-in price, at a minimum companies should be required to state “plus taxes and fees” and put it in writing.

  • Kairho

    The taxes and fees are collected by the supplier, not a third party. Sales tax would be found on the AT&T bill.

  • finance_tony

    Yea, I don’t understand how they company can be held to a price for X years when a city can arbitrarily add taxes to existing services. Call your aldermen, councilmen, senators, and representatives…not the service provider.

  • finance_tony

    But they are remitted to the taxing districts — AT&T doesn’t get to keep it.

  • finance_tony

    And what if they quote an all-in price, and a locality raises the tax rate halfway through the contract? Is it the provider’s responsibility to just pay it out of pocket so that your bill stays the same?

  • Kairho

    But of course.

  • Kairho

    Of course not … that’s universally understood. But a simple disclaimer is all that’s needed (and already done).


    AT&T actually quoted all taxes to me when I got a UVERSE quote. My cell phone provider did the same thing when I updated my plan. I simply asked for the monthly total including taxes and fees. Large companies plug in your zip code and the proper fees/taxes come up. But most won’t give them to you unless you ask for the total including fees/taxes. Quoting without those taxes and fees is misleading at the very best and borders on fraudulent. Consumers should not have to specifically ask for the total with tax–it should given automatically.

  • Jeff W.

    It is more complicated than that. ZIP Codes cross municipal borders and each can have different tax rates depending on where you live within that ZIP.

    Even the same locality can have different taxes. In my town, there is a cellular tax (on top what the county and state throw in.) But depending on what side of town you live in, you are serviced by a different fire protection district. Each district has its own taxing rates for 911 services, as an example.

    And while it doesn’t apply to me, several towns near me cross county lines. So you have different county tax structures as well. This also impacts sales tax, as the different counties have different rates. All have the same ZIP.

  • michael anthony

    There are taxes and fees. The fees are usually company related. They could say this does not include city, county, state and amusement taxes or the $25.00 in fees/month we charge.

  • Carol Molloy

    I’m rather on the side of full disclosure. While your observation is accurate, note that the company is capable of billing correctly, so they do have the necessary information. A simple disclosure that they do not control taxes, and that they could rise over the course of the contract, would alert consumers to the variable nature of their total bill. The disclosure should be prominent, which is likely to be the case only with a regulatory requirement to do so.

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