AT&T offered him an iPhone 11 for $36, but now he’s paying $500

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By Christopher Elliott

When Loc Nguyen ports three phones to AT&T, the wireless carrier offers him a fourth line for just $1 a month. But it never follows through and now he has to pay a total of $500. How can he fix that?


While I was porting three of my cell phones to AT&T, a company representative told me that adding an iPhone11 and a fourth line would cost $1 per month over 36 months. It seemed like a good deal. 

The representative told me to wait for three billing cycles for the credit to show up. But after three months, I didn’t get the credit. Instead of paying $36 for the iPhone11 ($1 a month for 36 months), I’m paying $500 ($13.89 per month). I spent many hours contacting AT&T through phone calls and store visits, and they would not honor their sales quote.

I would like AT&T to credit me what we already paid and only charge us $1 per month for 36 months for the iPhone11, as agreed. Can you help me? — Loc Nguyen, Sunnyvale, Calif.


If AT&T offered you an iPhone for $1 a month — which seems like a great deal — it should honor its offer.

You sent a transcript of the online chat between your wife and an AT&T representative. It certainly looks as if you had a promise in writing.

I tried to find your offer online to see what went wrong, but I couldn’t. Instead, I found a dizzying array of iPhone offers on the AT&T site. And I know if I’m confused, chances are, so are a lot of other people. Some of these bewildered readers may work for AT&T. (Related: My AT&T bill is wrong. How do I fix this $499 mistake?)

So what went wrong? It’s difficult to know for sure. Sometimes, companies just make mistakes when they handle your paperwork. And yours was a somewhat complicated transaction because it involved porting three numbers and adding a fourth. Chances are, someone just pushed the wrong button. (Related: This AT&T phone never worked. Why are they sending me to a collection agency?)

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If this ever happens to you again, feel free to reach out to one of AT&T’s executives. I publish their names, numbers and emails on my consumer advocacy site, (Here’s how to fix your own consumer problem.)

My advocacy team and I reached out to AT&T on your behalf. A representative responded directly to you, apologizing for your billing problem.

AT&T applied the credit for $500, as promised, which left you a positive balance of $82. “Please allow one to two cycles for the bill to reflect changes,” it added. Where have I heard that before?

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Christopher Elliott

Christopher Elliott is the founder of Elliott Advocacy, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that empowers consumers to solve their problems and helps those who can't. He's the author of numerous books on consumer advocacy and writes three nationally syndicated columns. He also publishes the Elliott Report, a news site for consumers, and Elliott Confidential, a critically acclaimed newsletter about customer service. If you have a consumer problem you can't solve, contact him directly through his advocacy website. You can also follow him on X, Facebook, and LinkedIn, or sign up for his daily newsletter.

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