Customers accuse phone companies of offering deals but not honoring them

Customers accuse phone companies of offering deals but not honoring them

Wireless carriers are always offering promotions to get your business. You sign up, but sometimes, they don't honor the deals and you have to fight to get them to keep their word.

Rachel Seighman lives in Monroe. She said, "(I) wanted to try to get a cheaper plan for my family. So, I tried AT&T out."  She said she got her bill and "it was going to be about $60 higher per month than they said." So, she called AT&T.  "I was told that the price they quoted me at was not correct," she said.

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Cynthia Emrich lives in Stanfield. She took advantage of an AT&T "buy one, get one free" offer for a Samsung phone. But, she said AT&T charged her for both phones.  "So I call them and they said it would straighten itself out, and it never did," she told Action 9.  She said she called the company every month for 2 1/2 years. "It was frustrating every month."

Denise Reid lives in Fort Mill. She said she went with a Verizon "buy one, get one free" deal for an iPhone, but that the company charged her full price.  "They could not give me a reason as to why," she said.  "No reason as to why."

Joseph Mayberry lives in Hickory. He told Action 9 a similar story.

All four customers said they tried to resolve things on their own but couldn’t. "I would call someone.  I would go through the long story of what happened.  I would get to the supervisor level.  I've got emails saying I would be credited back and a phone call would follow.  Never got the phone call," Mayberry said.

Once Action 9 got involved in all four of these cases, AT&T and Verizon gave all four customers the deals they said they were originally promised.  "I wrote an email to Channel 9 news, and that is the only thing that helped me," Seighman said. "Nobody would listen to me until Channel 9 actually reached out to them. A then within two hours, I got a phone call from AT&T."  "If it wasn't for Action 9, I would have never got that refund," Emrich said.

But all four believe there is a bigger issue. "Why did it take me contacting the news in order for somebody to hear me?" Seighman asked.

Better Business Bureau President Tom Bartholomy said, nationally, the BBB has received about 6,800 complaints this year against wireless carriers, specifically involving their advertising, sales and promotion practices.  "We're talking hundreds of complaints about a similar type of situation.  (It) points to an underlying cause, an underlying concern, with those types of promotions," he said.

So Action 9 asked AT&T and Verizon why this keeps happening.

Both companies said it doesn't. In fact, they said the opposite.

AT&T said, "We honor the deals."  Action 9 challenged the company on this, asking if it wanted "to stick with (that) statement" and asking the question a different way. It sent a new statement, but it was almost word for word the same as the first.

Verizon didn't give a statement. Instead, it referred Action 9 to an association that represents the industry, CTIA.  CTIA emailed, "I’m afraid we’re not familiar with any allegations of this kind."  Action 9 responded, "(T)hat seems very disingenuous" and asked for a "better" statement.  Action 9 never heard back.

Action 9 asked all three for interviews. All three said no.


  • Have the company put the promotion in writing and don't agree to anything until you have it in writing.
  • Be persistent.
  • Keep good records.
  • Don't be afraid to record your calls with the company as proof.  It is legal.
  • If they won't listen to you, contact Action 9.