I canceled my AT&T service, so why am I still being billed?

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By Christopher Elliott

Although Stacey Dodge has canceled her AT&T account and ported her wireless service to a new carrier, the bills keep coming. How can she get rid of them?

Question

I need your help resolving a billing dispute with AT&T. I switched cellular providers from AT&T to another carrier. My main cell line was ported to the new provider on Sept. 24. I called on this date to cancel the old services.

AT&T continued to bill me for services for this phone as well as other lines on this account after they were ported to my new carrier. After multiple calls and false promises, my bill was never credited for the months of service never received.

My service was finally canceled on my third attempt, on Nov. 3. On Dec. 9, an AT&T representative told me not to pay the amount that appeared on my bill in error, that my billing issues would be resolved and my final bill would arrive as a credit amount, which I was assuming would be a check.

Two billing cycles later, this has yet to occur. After hours on the phone to several different departments, nothing has been resolved. I called again yesterday, spent one and a half hours on the phone, spoke with 10 different representatives in various departments, and ended with a conversation with a supervisor in the collections department telling me no one at AT&T handles my situation and to write a letter to their Bill Dispute Department. Can you help me? — Stacey Dodge, Midlothian, Va.

Answer

AT&T should have canceled your account the first time you contacted it to cancel your account. If there was a misunderstanding — which can happen from time to time — then it should have done so the second time and stopped charging you. But this … I’m not sure how this happened.

Another reader also returned his AT&T phone, but the billing never stopped. I also recently canceled my AT&T wireless service after almost a decade of being a loyal customer. My experience may prove useful. Instead of calling to cancel, I initiated a chat through the AT&T website. Why? Because talk is cheap. You can ask a representative to cancel your account, but unless you have something in writing, what does it matter? A phone company, or any company, could continue billing you for as long as it pleases, unless you have proof that you wanted to stop your service.

When I canceled my AT&T account, I received a prompt verification by mail. If you don’t receive a written confirmation that you’re canceled, you should assume you aren’t. Had you looked for a cancellation verification and quickly contacted AT&T when you didn’t receive one, you might have fixed this earlier, and on your own.

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The final issue is AT&T’s billing cycle

This is really important. AT&T, like most wireless carriers, will continue billing you until the end of your billing cycle and they’ll keep your money, even if you aren’t using their service. Michael Rose also experienced this the hard — he returned his phone, but the billing never stopped. So it’s really important to cancel your service on the last day of your cycle. I called AT&T to find out when my cycle ended. Then I asked it to cancel my service at midnight. In writing. It did.

In other words, get everything in writing, don’t wait for trouble and time it right. There’s no legitimate way AT&T can keep your money. If that doesn’t work, you can contact a customer service manager at AT&T. I list the names, numbers and email addresses on my consumer advocacy site.

Although my advocacy team reached out on your behalf, we’re pretty convinced that your can-do attitude saved the day. In addition to getting me involved, you also sent letters to your state attorney general and the Federal Communications Commission. AT&T offered you a full refund.

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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. He is based in Panamá City.

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