Tag Archives: customer service

How To Get Ridiculous Phone Upgrade Fees Waived

getting phone upgrade fees waivesWhen I upgraded to the iPhone 5, in addition to the cost of the phone ($200+tax), there was also a $36 upgrade charge on my AT&T bill. $36 for what?

According to AT&T, it’s for the “costs associated with selecting and activating your new equipment.” That sounds kind of silly considering that all they do is stick in a new SIM card into your phone (and in some cases, you are just putting your old sim card into a new phone)!

This fee sounds even more ridiculous when you go to an Apple store and have them do it all for you, without even taking the phone out of the box. So why is AT&T charging customers so much? Because they can.

The upgrade fee used to be $18, which I still think is very high, but the good news is that there’s a pretty easy way to avoid paying those pesky $36 fees each time you upgrade. When you have 5 plans on a family plan, that can add up very quickly.

I called AT&T and simply told the customer service representative that I saw the charge and that when I upgraded, the store manager told me that it would be waived. After looking at the notes (and not finding anything, obviously), the customer service rep told me that it wasn’t there, but that she could refund that fee for me.

Is it wrong to lie to AT&T to save money? Maybe. But is it wrong for AT&T to charge me $36 for an upgrade that they had no interaction with? I think so.

I tested with for a few others, including Lauren’s family, which had 3 upgrades on the same bill. The result? No problem, $108 removed from the bill. That’s a big deal!

Readers, what do you think of the $36 upgrade fee? Do you think it’s ok use my tactic?

Try Multiple Solutions to Solve A Problem

Last month, I took a trip to Oxnard, CA for a weekend getaway. I was about to book a room at the Hampton Inn (owned by Hilton) overlooking the harbor when I saw a promotion on their page, get the 3rd night free. Well, we were only going to go for 2 nights, but how can we not extend our trip if it’s absolutely free?

I clicked on the link, entered our trip details, and took the cheapest available option, which came out to about $130 including taxes for each night. The price included the 3rd night, so I called the hotel for clarification, and they said that upon checkout, they would credit back to my account.

The weekend was absolutely fantastic: we spent a day at the beach, went bike riding, and listened to a concert in the park from our balcony.

Sunday rolled around, and as we set out on our way for a wine tasting and lunch on the way back, I checked out of the hotel and requested my extra $130 back.

The only problem was that they didn’t see the promotion on my account. I spoke to the manager, and she wouldn’t adjust it for me since I booked it online and she said she didn’t have the power. I would have to speak with Hilton to try and get my money back.

Frustrated, I left, hoping that this wouldn’t ruin my weekend. As soon as I got home, I called Hilton and explained the situation. They told that even after clicking on the promotion, I should have selected the normal, higher rate in order to get the promotion added to my account.

Well, that sucks. I paid more for the 3 night stay than I would have had I selected a higher rate and gotten the 3rd night free. No fair! Obviously I wanted them to credit me the $118 difference.

I believe that the website was a little deceptive and didn’t give clear instructions about how to book the 3rd night free promotion. I specifically asked for clarification before booking, so I wanted Hilton to acknowledge that their employee had made a mistake in talking to me on the phone and that they should be responsible for her actions.

Calling didn’t work, so I tried two different avenues: I complained publicly via twitter and I filed a report with the Better Business Bureau. I meant business, I had been misled, and I should not have been charged as much as I had been.

Nobody voluntarily pays more for the same product. I wanted to get the rate people who didn’t make a “mistake” on their website would have gotten.

With all my complaining, getting the full $118 seemed like a lost cause, so I focused my efforts on getting back the extra money that I paid over the lowest available rate, which was about $85.

I got a fairly quick response to my twitter complaint and after a few back and forth responses, I got an email saying that they were indeed going to credit me back my $85, the extra portion that I probably shouldn’t have paid.

While I did get a response after filing the BBB report, it came about a week later, and I once again I asked for the full $118 credited back. Unfortunately, I didn’t get my wish and ultimately they decided that the $85 was enough and my hassle shouldn’t be compensated.

Rarely will one avenue work for every problem you have, which is why I tried 4 different options. I spoke to the manager, I called, I tweeted, and I filed a report.

By reaching out in all sorts of directions, I put my eggs in different baskets, hoping that one would work out positively. Because sometimes just one friendly response is all it takes to save $85.

Facebook as a Shopping Tool

This is a post written by Avishai Shuter, and up-and-coming zoologist who lives in his parents house while waiting to hear back from the Bronx Zoo.

I recently discovered something amazing. It involves things everyone loves: business with a personal touch, great customer service, and big, big savings. I was hesitant at first, but you shouldn’t be: Like your favorite stores on Facebook. Right Now.

Let me share a story with you, about how I paid $25 for a $109.99 product, just by asking. One of my favorite online stores, HockeyMonkey.com, has a promotion on their Facebook page called the Wicked Daily Deal (they also provide fans with contests and codes for sales). What they do is look around their office for something that’s been sitting around a while, then they throw it up on the Facebook page for absurd prices on a first-come first-serve basis.

Someone gets a great product at a great price, and HockeyMonkey gets to sell products that are just gathering dust – everyone wins. These deals range from eh, that’s a pretty good deal, to I feel bad for practically stealing this item from them.

So now for my story. I had dabbled in the Wicked Daily Deal earlier in the year, purchasing a hockey stick bag (a $15-20 value) for $3. I check these deals almost daily, but hadn’t seen something I really needed for a while. But, with hockey season coming up, I needed a new pair of shoulder pads.

Last week, I took advantage of an opportunity that fans of the Facebook page have, and spoke directly to the company on an essentially first name basis. I just wrote a post on the Wall saying that I would love a new pair of shoulder pads for a great price. When was the last time you walked into an American Eagle and said, I’d like these jeans, but on sale please?

Yeah, that’s what I thought. But, having great customer service, HockeyMonkey just said, no problem. They looked around their office and found some shoulder pads that had been sitting around for a few years (they were Easton Synergy 900 pads, if you care). These top-of-the-line pads originally cost $109.99, a price I would never consider paying. But, HockeyMonkey offered them to me for a measly $25. A jaw-dropping deal. The pads should be delivered at some point today, and I can’t wait.

I hope that a few lessons can be learned from this experience. First, and most obviously, Like your favorite companies on Facebook. It gives you an outlet (in many cases) to speak candidly to representatives of the companies, bypassing the usual corporate facade you need to face-off with whenever you call or deal with big companies in person. I can’t praise HockeyMonkey enough for the effort they put into their Facebook page; all their fans greatly appreciate it.

Also, don’t be afraid to ask! It can never hurt, because the worst-case scenario is simply a ‘no,’ and you’ll be right back where you started, no harm done.

The ability to just speak to a company in an informal, one-on-one way is an incredibly freeing experience. Next, I really hope that more big companies will take the initiative and adopt programs like this one. It seems that HockeyMonkey is really ahead of the curve, but I can’t wait for the day when other companies to catch up.