7 On Your Side: Free cellphone fiasco

WAPPINGERS FALLS, New York (WABC) -- 7 On Your Side hears a lot of venting about smartphone switch-ups and surprises. Nationwide cellphone bill complaints ballooned. They are up 256% compared to this time last year, and the FCC reports more than 3,600 complaints just in September so far. One Wappingers Falls woman said she fell for a deal that was not worth her frustration.

The "Buy One Get One Deal" on TV promises to take the bite out of purchasing a pricey new iPhone.

After seeing AT&T's promotion, Heather Weeks headed straight for the mall to take advantage of it.

"I thought I was going to get my money back and this was going to be easy," Weeks said.

Instead she feels like she's fighting an uphill battle getting billed in installments for her boyfriend Eric's $750 "free" phone ever since they signed the contract in April.

"I was getting frustrated you can never talk to the same rep," the Wappingers Falls native said.

After two months, Heather says an AT&T rep said they'd fix the bill in three days.

"(But) I still got charged four times after that with (being told by AT&T) don't worry it will be next month, next month. It was going on five-six months," Weeks said.

Still the charge stuck and not wanting to sink her credit, she kept paying it.

Finally, she took to social media and was shocked to see others across the country ranting on AT&T's Facebook page with the same BOGO beef calling the Buy One Get One "ridiculous." People said they were still being billed monthly.

"I was totally blown away," Weeks said.

So she called 7 On Your Side and we contacted the phone service giant.

"I got my refund they credited my account," Weeks said.

Within days, she was credited back everything she paid for the free iPhone.

A representative for AT&T apologized to Heather saying these charges were a mistake.

The big takeaway here - it's up to you to carefully scan all your bills each month to detect discrepancies. If it wasn't for Weeks' eagle eye - she would've paid hundreds extra.

And if you have a bill problem with your cellphone - complain to the FCC. This federal agency can impose penalties, require refunds and negotiate settlements. Companies have a month to respond to the FCC in writing. null
Copyright © 2019 WABC-TV. All Rights Reserved.