AT&T offered a deal on a phone — then it reneged

When AT&T offers Enaruna Aideyan a special rate for two Samsung Galaxy S8+ phones, he jumps on it. Then AT&T refuses to honor the deal. What’s going on?

Question

AT&T recently offered a deal to me for two Samsung Galaxy S8+ phones for $399 each. They did it by chat, and I saved the transcript.

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We went to the AT&T store the same day to pay for these phones. When we arrived, we were told the deal “doesn’t exist.” A manager shamed us out of the store by inviting all the sales associates in the store to help him tell us loud and clear that AT&T no longer does two-year contracts.

I contacted AT&T through social media, and it offered us $160 off a future purchase, which I refused. I also left messages with the president’s office, but could not make contact.

Eventually, a representative contacted me to offer a revised deal of $750 for both phones to make up for the trouble. I accepted the offer. He sent us a link, which did not work. I tried to call him back, but it appears he’s gone AWOL. Can you get AT&T to honor its offer? — Enaruna Aideyan, San Jose, Calif.

Answer

AT&T should have honored its $399 offer. I mean, you had it in writing. Case closed, right?

Not really. First, offers made online don’t automatically work in the store. When AT&T looked into your case, it found that the employee you were chatting with had “mistakenly” said that you could redeem your offer in a store.

Offered a deal — or not?

There’s also a timing issue. According to AT&T’s records, it offered a deal to you on May 4, but you waited until May 17 to make the purchase. By then, the offer had expired, which is why the store couldn’t even see it. You say you came in the same day AT&T made its offer.

Here’s where AT&T fell short: Rather than shouting you out of the store, a manager should have taken a moment to verify the initial offer and explain why you couldn’t pick up your Galaxy S8+ phones that day. Shaming you out of the store is hardly the positive, “I can help you” attitude that AT&T promises its customers. The representative who offered you a $750 deal and then disappeared? Same thing.

The good news

Rather than calling AT&T, I would have recommended appealing your case in writing. I list the names, numbers and email addresses of all the AT&T customer service executives on my consumer advocacy site. A brief, polite email to one of them with your chat transcript might have been enough to help you get your phones.

I contacted AT&T on your behalf. It apologized for the misunderstanding and agreed to honor its latest offer. And this time, the link worked.

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