Pre-owned phone not what it was cracked up to be? Your options vs. AT&T
Did you get a refurbished phone from AT&T that stopped working immediately? Did you buy a new phone only to realize they sold you a refurbished phone? Here’s what to do next.
AT&T offers refurbished phones with a certification that it has been properly restored. Every device undergoes rigorous inspections and tests. According to the website each device is validated to ensure that all of the parts are original and authentic and that all personal information has been removed.
The devices are cleaned and polished with any repairs completed to the exterior. AT&T conducts a 27-point testing phase to make sure everything performed well. After that they complete a multi-point test to verify that the RF signal strength performs not just to FCC specifications but to those of AT&T. The last step is to restore the device with the latest operating software.
On any refurbished deals you have 14 days to return the item for a full refund if it doesn’t meet your expectations and a 90 day warranty from the date of purchase. If you don’t want a full refund they do offer a warranty exchange program.
The first thing you should do is report the issue to AT&T. If you purchased a phone as new from AT&T and it turned out to be a refurbished phone, the company needs to be made aware of the transgression so that they can potentially offer a resolution. There are situations where these mistakes are accidental computer errors and if so, AT&T will be happy to fix it immediately.
If you were sold a refurbished phone from AT&T and it turns out that phone is locked because it was stolen, you must report this to your local police as well as AT&T. This tends to happen more often if you purchase a refurbished phone from a third-party seller on sites like eBay, but it can still happen.
Tip: Wondering whether your “new” phone is actually new? Here are some quick tests you can do in the store or at home.
After that you can submit formal complaints with the FCC or your State Attorney General office, as well as informal complaints with review sites and oversight organizations.
The Federal Communications Commission or FCC is a great place to file your complaint. You might not get results immediately, but if enough people complain about refurbished phone scams and AT&T, it will give you more leverage. You can also report fraud to the FTC or Federal Trade Commission, another organization responsible for situations where fraud or scams take place.
Tip: The FTC keeps records of what is currently under investigation. To see what is under review between the FTC and AT&T in your area, visit ftc.gov/exploredata.
Another option is to file an official Complaint at the state level with your State Attorney General’s office. You can submit online forms that are very easy to follow and send copies of what you submitted to AT&T if they were less than enthused about offering a resolution before.
You can submit an informal complaint to the Better Business Bureau. The Better Business Bureau won’t have any power to force the company to respond to you or give you any type of resolution, but if you are lucky, the company will monitor their page anyway and when made aware of the refurbished scam, reach out to you using the same thread and try to provide a resolution.
Another informal solution is to use review websites like consumer affairs. These websites give you a place to informally submit your complaint. Other people like yourself can read these complaints and see that you were sold a refurbished phone from AT&T that doesn’t work or read about how you bought what you thought was a new phone from AT&T but it turned out to be a refurbished phone.
Social media is a place where you can seek resolution for smaller issues especially if regular customer service isn’t helping. It’s always important however to use the company pages and tag them directly.
After you submit a complaint to a formal Bureau, they may or may not reach out to you and keep you updated on their process. More likely, they will simply follow up with the company and investigate the situation but you won’t get any compensation or hear back. However it’s still important to keep copies of everything you send in case you want to utilize another method for compensation.
Most of these methods for a complaint only bring attention to the wrong doing but they don’t help you as the consumer get compensation. What does help you is consumer arbitration. Let us guide you through this process.
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