How to Avoid Equipment Return Fees from AT&T

Is AT&T wrongly charging you an equipment return fee? FairShake can help.

"What you should know about equipment return fees"

If you have any service with AT&T, and for whatever reason the equipment isn’t working but it’s covered under warranty, or you’re simply closing your account, you have to return the equipment.

Failure to return equipment in the exact way AT&T dictates or within the given timeframe can leave you susceptible to equipment return fees. But we can help you avoid them. 

Equipment from AT&T

According to AT&T, what you have to return is based on the type of service you have but typically includes things like a modem and router. 

For example: if you have AT&T U-verse for your internet, you have to return the Wi-Fi Gateway and the power cord. 

AT&T makes it clear that they offer a 90-day equipment warranty from the date your equipment is installed so, if your equipment sales, you should be able to contact AT&T customer service and they will help you return the broken equipment in exchange for replacements, but even this can leave you spacing unwanted and unnecessary fees.

Note: You should receive a confirmation letter or email from AT&T detailing what you need to return based specifically on your services. 

How Long AT&T Gives You to Return Equipment

According to AT&T, you have 21 days to return your equipment. This 21-day mark begins from the day you disconnect your service.

However, they also made it clear that you might have to provide them with tracking numbers if you choose to send your return box through the mail. If you use FedEx or UPS for a faster return, make sure you keep the reference number because they will ask for it in the event that you get billed for missing or lost equipment.

What Happens if You Don’t Return Equipment

The fine print from AT&T stipulates that you may be responsible not only for the cost of replacing the equipment but what they refer to as restocking fees, the cost to get a replacement for that equipment back on the proverbial shelves.

AT&T break down the fees to what you might be subject into two categories:

  1. The first is a damaged equipment fee. If the equipment is returned even in a timely fashion but AT&T decides that it was damaged and you didn’t treat it properly, they can charge you a fee for damaged equipment. 
  2. The second is called a non-returned equipment fee. If AT&T doesn’t get your equipment back within 21 days, they will charge you a fee for the entire cost. If, the fine print states, the company received your equipment after that 21 day mark, they will purportedly credit your account within 2 months, but sometimes they conveniently forget to do this and it’s up to you to follow up. 

The company charges $150 per unit of equipment, and effectively every item you have to return is considered a unit. If you use AT&T for your internet, failing to return the Wi-Fi Gateway and power cord within 21 days will leave you susceptible to a charge of $150.

How to Return Your Equipment

By Mail

AT&T  recommends that you return your equipment by mail, dropping it off at FedEx or UPS specifically. If they ask you to use UPS or FedEx, you don’t have to package the equipment, you just have to bring the unboxed equipment as well as your account number to a FedEx or UPS location. They will give you a receipt that confirms the equipment has been returned.

AT&T might also send you a return kit in which case you should pack all of the equipment yourself into that return kit, and then attach a prepaid shipping label that they send you. This has to be brought to your local post office. You should absolutely get a delivery confirmation option when you return this, even if the company didn’t include that with the prepaid shipping. This will help you prove that you did ship the equipment within a certain day and give you the opportunity to track it until it arrives.

In Person

You always have the option of bringing back your equipment in person. They make this seem very easy, and that you can just walk into a location and return it, but if you do make sure you get a receipt so that you can prove it was returned within that 21 day period.

Document Your Equipment

Before you send it back, make sure you document your equipment by taking pictures. The more pictures you take, the better, as you can have time and date stamps that confirm the condition before it was returned on the off chance that AT&T tries to claim it was damaged. 

Having pictures with a time and date stamp that confirm the condition, even pictures that confirm the condition as you put it in the box and hand it to FedEx or UPS, or confirm the condition of the box once everything is packaged can be helpful down the line. 

What Happens if AT&T *Loses* Your Equipment

AT&T makes it clear that you can try to fight things like damaged equipment fees or non-return fees, but you don’t have to do it on your own. At FairShake, we can help!

Companies frequently “lose” your equipment even if you’ve done everything the right way and then they try to charge you. This is something FairShake sees way too frequently among our customers. But we can help make sure you’re not forced to pay money you shouldn’t owe!

If AT&T is trying to charge you a bogus equipment fee, start your claim for compensation now…

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