AT&T U-verse Deceptive Selling Practices

Note: This posting is based on my weekly “Thank God It’s Monday” that helps you and your company thrive!

This week’s focus: deceptive selling practices

Nothing irritates me more than deceptive selling practices, especially deceptions you learn about after a deal is struck and the transaction is complete.

My father needed to upgrade his home Internet service as what he had didn’t offer sufficient bandwidth to allow him to look at videos. We went to the AT&T store and were offered an AT&T U-verse package that would bundle his home phone and Internet–increase his bandwidth by a factor of 4– for $40 a month, down from the $74 a month he had been paying for years. There would be an installation cost of $199: $100 for the new Internet hub and $99 for installation. My father wanted this.

Ten days later, the installer showed up and completed the installation. My dad called me and asked if I would come over right away as he didn’t understand the nuances of what the installer is trying to tell him. I would soon understand why.

  • To offer the low price, AT&T changes his phone from a direct wired connection to voice-over-Internet-protocol (VOIP). His home alarm system doesn’t speak VOIP so now he either needs to either schedule and pay for AT&T to come out and restore what was there for over 50 years as a direct wired phone line or upgrade his alarm system at a cost of about $550.
  • His new VOIP phone has a limit of 250 minutes per month. He’s never had a limit on his local calls.
  • His email would not work. I called AT&T and, when a Level 1 tech couldn’t help me, they told me I’d have to pay for a Level 2 tech to assist me. I insisted on speaking to a supervisor and avoided additional fees. The problem turned out to be an AT&T issue.

No one mentioned that his phone was going to be converted to VOIP or that he would have a limit of 250 minutes for local calls. No one asked if he had an alarm system. Why didn’t they ask? It would have slowed or eliminated the possibility of an on-the-spot sale as I would have sought a different solution from other companies had we been told what they were going to do.

Bottom line: AT&T U-Verse didn’t disclose material facts about the transaction. That is deceptive. The California Public Utilities Commission (PUC) needs to know about this.

Customers don’t like surprises, especially surprises that have significant implications. You can’t thrive if you treat customers like this. Set proper expectations and make sure there are no surprises.

Thought for the week:

“Success isn’t permanent and failure isn’t fatal.” – Mike Ditka

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What do you think? I welcome your comments!
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Dave Gardner, Gardner & Associates Consulting http://www.gardnerandassoc.com

© 2013 Gardner & Associates Consulting  All Rights Reserved

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