Clark Howard warns customers away from AT&T/DirecTV

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Clark Howard warns customers away from AT&T/DirecTV
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If there’s one thing money expert Clark Howard hates, it’s what he calls “customer no-service.”

You’ve heard of customer service, right?

Well, what happens when a company incorrectly bills its customers, fails to honor promotions and won’t provide any meaningful resolution for thousands of customers who complain?

All of those alleged infractions would be considered prime examples of customer no-service, that’s what!

Read more: Net neutrality: Make your voice heard on this important issue

CBSNews report: AT&T and DirecTV offer customer no-service

CBSNews.com did some digging and has uncovered what appears to be a systemic problem with AT&T and DirecTV customer service.

According to CBS, one customer they spoke with signed up for a bundle of Internet and TV with AT&T and its newly acquired satellite service DirecTV in July 2016. Collectively, the two services were supposed to cost around $100 a month.

But the customer’s first bill was nearly twice as much and AT&T has been no help in fixing the problem. The customer continues to pay well above what he agreed to and its now 10 months later!

That’s just one example CBS cites of an alleged pattern in which AT&T and DirecTV do not honor their own promotions. In fact, the news network found thousands of similar complaints.

That prompted money expert Clark Howard to get in touch with AT&T and DirecTV to get to the bottom of what’s going on.

Listen: Clark discusses AT&T and DirecTV on the Clark Howard Show Podcast

Below you can follow the trail of communications back and forth between Team Clark and AT&T/DirecTV:

Initial contact between Team Clark and AT&T

May 17, 2017

Dear AT&T,

My name is Joel and I’m a Senior Producer on the Clark Howard radio show. Clark spoke today about this CBS article and the practice of AT&T not billing their customers correctly. This is an issue that has come up with numerous callers to our show and Clark would like to know what AT&T is going to be doing to respond to this issue.  Clark is concerned that if AT&T can’t come up with a procedure that will deal with the problems of customer billing that he will have to issue a warning on the show to avoid doing business with AT&T.

We would love to know your side of the story and if there is a representative that would be willing to speak to Clark on air, we would welcome it. Regardless, he will be revisiting the topic next week, so any statement that you could provide on the company’s behalf would be helpful. Please let me know if you need any additional information from me. And thanks for your time.

Joel Larsgaard
Producer on the Clark Howard Show

Response from AT&T to Team Clark

May 17, 2017

Hi Joel – I am with AT&T PR based in Atlanta. I received your inquiry, and our statement on this topic is below.
Please let me know if you have any other questions.
Catherine
AT&T Public Relations

AT&T Statement:
“Like other companies, we frequently introduce promotions to provide our customers with the best services and products at the best price. These special offers vary in terms of pricing and duration. If a customer signs up for one of these offers, we fully honor the terms through the promotion’s completion. Customers who enrolled in one of our promotional offers and believe they did not receive the full benefits should contact customer service.”

Team Clark responds to the AT&T statement

May 17, 2017

Hi Catherine,

Thank you for the quick response. Regarding this part of your statement:

“If a customer signs up for one of these offers, we fully honor the terms through the promotion’s completion. Customers who enrolled in one of our promotional offers and believe they did not receive the full benefits should contact customer service.”

Unfortunately, we are hearing from people who have spoken to customer service and have been confirmed a promotional deal, but the terms are not being honored when the bill arrives in the mail. This is the same issue that the CBS article referred to as well. The other issue many customers have reported is receiving different answers from multiple customer service representatives and still not having a proper solution.

Clark would like for AT&T to specifically address these concerns and what company policies will be adjusted in order to ensure that customers can get the deals they have been promised. Once again, Clark will be revisiting this next week and if we don’t have a statement that addresses these concerns he will be issuing a warning against doing business with AT&T. In lieu of a statement, we welcome the opportunity to put a representative from AT&T on the air with Clark.

Thanks again for your time and help with this.

Joel Larsgaard

AT&T declines further comment

May 19, 2017

Hi Joel – Again, thank you for giving us with a chance to respond. At this point, we have nothing further to provide.

Catherine

Clark Howard reaches out directly to AT&T

May 19, 2017

Dear Catherine,

I hope you are having a great Friday afternoon. I have read the string of emails between you and my producer Joel Larsgaard. I was extremely disappointed in your response. I know it is tough in a corporate culture to admit failings, but I am prepared to tell my listeners, viewers, readers and digital followers to avoid using any AT&T services. You have no idea how chaotic your customer service operation is right now. If your only answer to people who are beating their heads against the broken AT&T customer service operation is to call that same customer service that hasn’t helped them, that shows a serious lack of judgement and understanding of the problems consumers are facing.

I don’t want to just throw verbal bombs. I want to help my audience. That is why I gave a week for your bureaucracy to come up with an answer that solves the problem of customers getting treated miserably. I believe that there is no ill intent on AT&Ts part. Rather I believe that AT&T has botched the operational merger of AT&T with DirecTV. I ask you again to rethink how to serve people who have hit a customer service dead-end. It is your choice and your company.

Sincerely,

Clark

AT&T’s final response to Clark Howard

May 22, 2017

Hi Clark – Thank you for reaching out. I’m sorry we don’t have more to share at this point. I will definitely keep you posted on anything that would be more helpful to your audience down the line.

Catherine

The takeaway for you

The promotions AT&T and DirecTV are offering qualify as what Clark would call “screaming deals.”

But tread carefully here!

If you want to sign up, know that you to have sign a 24-month contract with a hefty early termination fee that typically starts at $480.

If you still want to take the plunge, Clark suggests ordering online and printing up the confirmation of what you agree to and the original offer as well. Then, if AT&T fails to honor the rate, do the following:

  1. Walk into an AT&T store with your paperwork in hand and see if you can get a resolution that way.
  2. Failing that, file a complaint at BBB.org.
  3. If none of that works, you can try to go through AT&T’s arbitration process as a last resort.

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Theo Thimou About the author:
Theo is director of content for clark.com. He has co-written 2 books with Clark Howard, including the #1 New York Times bestseller Clark Howard's Living Large in Lean Times.
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