Tuesday, September 22, 2009

AT&T: Fall off the Planet

by Smitty

I had occasion to return my handset to the manufacturer today. I shipped the wee gadget off to Huntsville, AL for to see the phone doctor.

There is an AT&T shop near the mail joint, so I figured I'd go buy a cheap backup handset from my preferred vendor, slide in the SIM card, and have something to tide me over until my main handset returns.

I explained my situation, picked out a decent handset and set about buying the thing. The sales guy said that there would be no refund on an unlocked phone. Store credit, sure, but no money back, since I'm not an AT&T customer. I trust my brand, so fine. He has me sign something explicitly stating that I understand this proviso, which I think a bit much, but I'm still trusting the creep.

So I bought the thing, and then he started to tell me about the unlocking process, to get it to work outside of AT&T. He couldn't do that in the store, he had to call some service guy. Fine. Called up this guy, collected my contact information. They guy informed me that it's going to be 72 hours before they can email me the magic code to unlock the phone.

I assured the guy that I understood that this was not his policy but that this makes no sense in the Information Age. The phone's IMEI is broadcast every time you call. What sort of security is this buying?

Upon entry into the sales discussion, I had explained that I wanted a phone, now, to cover while awaiting my main unit. Yet the sales guy roped me in anyway, knowing that my instant gratification requirement would be stymied for three days.

Had the sales guy been forthright, I would have said "Thank you, no" and gone to my usual vendor at the mall for the purchase. My basic purpose was completely thwarted by a greedy salesperson.


I hope the negative advertising value of this blog post more than outweighs the value of the phone I bought. I expected to use it immediately, only to discover that what I thought was rain going down my back was something else entirely. Your policy blows the grand wazoo, and people should find other vendors with less crappy policies.


  1. AT&T.... A very shitty company, its on my avoid at all costs list.


  2. I thought it's anti-American to rip shitty corporations that rip off consumers.

  3. Due to treatment of military families, we haven't purposely given money to at&t for MANY years. When we moved back here, the phone company was BellSouth but they merged with at&t & I went with the cable company for my house phone. Thanks for the reminder.

  4. I'd also tweet a short version of this.

  5. No, no. It's anti-American to rip shitty government agencies that rip off consumers.

  6. I remember AT&T being a crap cell provider before they bought Cingular...another crap cell provider.

    Two wrongs don't make a right.

    Glad I switched to Verizon years ago.

  7. PCachu, I was poking fun at the conservative tendency to praise insurance companies and big conglomerates like Verizon, ATT, Comcast, etc that really screw us in the butt. :)

  8. We switched to Verizon in February and have been fairly happy (some billing problems at the switchover, but after a few firm phone calls, they were resolved). Their coverage is much better here in the flooded swampland formerly known as Douglas County.

  9. They used to be good before they merged with Cingular, but that was a long time ago.

  10. AT&T has been a wretched firm to be a customer with for years. Stay away. Very far away.