Customer gets runaround after wrongfully charged

We've all been the customer on the end of a frustrating call to a big company. Here's how to avoid the runaround.

SPRING, TEXAS - We've all been the customer on the end of a frustrating call to a big company.

You explain your problem. Then, you're transferred to someone else and have to start all over again.

That's what happened to Bob Stuart.

"My motivation was to make them accountable to acknowledge you've done a wrong and fix it," he explained from his living room in Spring.

You see, Stuart said that he started getting bills for a phone line he didn't order from AT&T. A new bill would arrive each week and the balance was growing.

The frustration kicked into high gear when Stuart went searching for answers and called AT&T's toll-free number.

Here's how he described multiple conversations with agents when he asked to disconnect the line.

"They said, 'Yeah, we can do that, give us a password,'" he recalled. "I said, 'What password?' They said, 'The password on the account.' I said, 'I don't have a password, I didn't initiate the account.' 'Well, we can't turn it off without a password.'"

Stuart estimated that he made 40 calls, consuming about 20 hours of his time in the span of 10 days.

"The old saying where the consumer is always right," he said. "In this case, I was never right."

This disabled veteran on a pension had no spare cash or patience. So, he contacted KHOU 11 Investigates for help.

"It was your reputation that brought me to you," he said.

We emailed a senior public relations manager with AT&T and described Stuart's problem.

After a few days and an email thread, Stuart was surprised with a letter from the AT&T Office of the President.

He read part of it to us.

"Per your request, this letter is to confirm that the account reference above has been disconnected," Stuart read from the letter. "The account has been credited to a 0 balance."

We repeatedly asked AT&T how the account was opened in the first place. They never answered.

We did get the following statement from AT&T:

“As mentioned previously, we worked with the customer to resolve his issues and sent a letter to the customer outlining the actions taken. We do not disclose private customer account information.”

After waiting through a few more months of billing cycles, Stuart's confident the problem is finally fixed.

"It's sad when you have to go that far to get something done but you guys did it, you were able to stop it," he told us.

Now, he hopes other consumers learn from his ordeal.

"The takeaway would be just don't cave," he said. "Don't give in and pay the bill."

If you're in a situation similar to Stuart's, keep calling and be persistent!

If you still can't get a result, The Better Business Bureau says file complaints with both the Federal Trade Commission and the Federal Communications Commission.

If you have a consumer problem for KHOU 11 Investigates, email investigates@khou.com.

(© 2016 KHOU)


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