CUB boss calls AT&T out on bad info, phone giant says “Oops!”

When you’re part of a small consumer watchdog group fighting for the rights of 12 million DKCellPhoneReportIllinoisans, no job is too small. So when it appeared a consumer was getting bad information from AT&T, the boss himself stepped in to help.

James Wiersum of Lombard reached out to CUB recently, saying an AT&T representative told him that the Consumer’s Choice plans were no longer being offered to new customers. (James had just used CUB’s Local Phone Cost-cutter, which had recommended a Consumer’s Choice plan. CUB’s online service has shown consumers how to save nearly $10 million a year by recommending the best local calling plans for AT&T customers.)

The Consumer’s Choice plans, created by CUB under a legal settlement with AT&T, are the best landline deals in Illinois, having saved consumers millions of dollars over the last five years. In fact, CUB and other consumers advocates just defeated an attempt by the phone industry to abolish the plans. Thus, the General Assembly still requires that AT&T market these plans and has frozen the rates (starting at $3.05 per month) until at least June 2015.

So the information James received from AT&T was flat-out incorrect.

CUB Executive Director David Kolata quickly emailed James to correct AT&T’s error. He was so quick on the draw that James was still on the phone with AT&T, and was able to ask the representative to check again! After a five-minute delay, she came back on the phone and corrected her mistake. “I would have given up had it not been for the information CUB supplied,” wrote James, who signed up as a monthly CUB contributor.

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23 Responses to CUB boss calls AT&T out on bad info, phone giant says “Oops!”

  1. Joe says:

    Are the Consumer’s Choice plans still available now?
    If so are they open to all consumers, or only those qualified based on income?
    Is there an ending date when the availability will be phased out?
    I read that AT&T was lobbying to have them phased out and/or made available only with income restrictions.
    I can see it’s another thing entirely getting AT&T to honor what is supposed to be available, but I’m looking to at least find the straight facts on what is “supposed” to be offered.
    Thank you for any clarification you can give.

  2. mike says:

    I just called ATT and was told the consumers choice plus plan went away two years ago and only more expensive plans are available. Looks like they’re still trying to scam customers, following up with CUB about it.

  3. We currently have one of the Consumer Choice Plans that are offered because of CUB’s hard work. (We also have internet service with AT&T.) We are moving from the suburb of West Chicago to Elgin…17 miles away. We went to the AT&T store in Stratford Square mall to talk about our options. We still want a landline & wished to keep our current phone #…but did not want the current promo of $20/month via a WIRELESS phone.
    The rep said that we could keep our current phone # with a landline BUT we had to use U-Verse because the “plans” (any toll plans…AT&T OR CUB’s) are not available in Elgin. I questioned the rep & her mgr several times about “how can the plans not be available!”…Elgin is not in no man’s land…it is an older suburb than others….etc. No budging… get U-Verse or go wireless.
    Well then their WiFi signal wasn’t working so they asked us to come back in 1 hr. to finalize the paperwork…after they directly called AT&T. When we came back we found out “no, you cannot keep your current phone #…so sorry we were wrong..here’s your new #”. What?!?!
    Our new U-Verse & faster internet will be $30 less per month for 1 year (then go up to $75…BUT call for the newest promo was their advice). I am trying to be optimistic about U-Verse plus get a step closer to newer technology…I’ve even memorized my new #….but come on….the toll plans aren’t offered in all suburbs??!!??!! Does this have to do with the 2020 plan to do phase out all landlines?

  4. I’m a retiree and all these reports really distrurbs me. Oh to long for the “good old days” of the former Bell System. You still see the logo on manhole covers and sometimes other places. This was one of the worst things our government ever did to break up the Bell System; it even affected our national defense and stopped much fundamental research on many, many subjects of science.

  5. I am on the phone number given above (thanks, Coyote Wes) switching back to a landline (I had U-Verse for both phone and internet). Though I won’t have unlimited long distance any more (I can use my cell for that rare necessity) my bill has gone down from about $35/month to just under $20. Since I qualify for the Lifeline program for those who are disabled, the rep gave me a number to call to initiate that as well which will save me an additional $10. I’m going to be paying about $10/month for my landline. Thank you, CUB!

    • Thanks! Using unused cellphone minutes for long-distance is great advice. We’re glad you were able to lower your bill. It’s hard to beat $10 a month!

    • Joanne Kurtz says:

      Thanks for the disabled information. I had ATT and they did not give me that either but nice to know about it. Keep it in mind if I know anybody

  6. Joanne Kurtz says:

    An ATT employee will tell you anything but wait till you get the bill it is totally different than what they quoted on the phone;
    I got suckered into take the U Verse and it was to be about $5 cheaper than the way I had it laid out so finally gave in. Here is what I really got my internet was much slower, they messed up my phone until it was totally useless and rarely used it they did not leave the DVD player the TV was a disaster, and the bill was way out of sight forget it didn’t pay it so they are trying to collect for it. Well they disconnected the whole mess and finally since I am disabled eventually sent someone to get the modem that I could not get to disconnect to send back. Found out they cut Dish’s lines and were walking around on my roof and had no business being up there. All the connections he needed are down low. They could not explain why he was on the roof either. To top it all off he lets my cat out and the cat was never seen after that wound up getting pneumonia and am on oxygen for the rest of my life now looking for the cat. I have wondered if the ATT guy took the cat with him when he left that is when the cat disappeared when he was going in and out getting ready to leave the cat was here the whole time he was here. The supervisor said tough luck lady your problem ..will never let ATT in the house again.

    The final blow is that for years have tried to find out about the Military discount and they now are advertising all over that the discount is 15% which they are now denying me and I have an active ID. They are just loaded with all kinds of lies and come on’s

  7. LORRAINE MADIA says:

    AT.Tcharged my bill 99.00 dollars to fix my outside phone line. Theres no charge for outside work.

    • Hi Lorraine. You’re correct, problems with the outside phone wires are supposed to be the phone company’s responsibility. If you feel you’ve been mischarged, give our consumer hotline a call at 1-800-669-5556, and we can help you file a complaint. Thanks.

  8. Coyote Wes says:

    I agree totally with J.Zolot. Few know that almost all (95%) AT&T customer service call centers are out sourced to third party call center service companies. They are not AT&T employees, they are low paid workers and are not trained at all other than to read off of computer screens exactly what AT&T marketing systems algorithms display for them. Even the managers do not know anything else. And they know nothing about the so call Consumer Choice Plans or even an Unlimited call plan with 2 enhanced services for $19.70 + $4.94 Fed Access Charge.

    Thanks to Anette at C.U.B. for giving me the number 866-582-0713 to one of the last AT&T corporate call centers to get a Consumer Choice Plan. I got the CC Basic Plan w/Caller Name & Number(only) for $16.02 + $4.94 FAC. Net savings $14 per month, $168 per year. My first two months of these savings have just gone to C.U.B. as an additional contribution in 2013. Without today’s email from C.U.B. and Anette’s input after calling AT&T customer service # on my bill and ending up totally frustrated, I never would have accomplished this savings.

  9. Clark Kent says:

    I retired from there when I was eligible to retire because they now treat employees like dirt.

    • Joanne Kurtz says:

      I have heard this before from employees either retired or still working doesn’t say much for that company

      This has been most interesting reading on some of the problems I have had over the years with ATT and have said that they either lie through their eye teeth to customers or they don’t know what they are talking about and this blog says just that low paid third company are what we deal with and supervisor don’t know more than they employee beneath them sad that money is so important that they can’t deal with their problems directly with properly trained employees

  10. Dottie Pokorny says:

    Does anyone know if I can keep my AT&T Internet monthly plan ($23.00) after I choose to leave AT&T ‘s Consumer Choice plan and go to wireless phones.

    • I just now switched back to AT&T landline phone from U-Verse. I asked if my U-Verse internet deal would still stay the same and was told that it would. Hope that is the same for you, Dottie.

    • Hey Dottie, you may be able to keep your Internet price, but AT&T may use the cancellation as an excuse to raise it. Your best bet is to call them and negotiate, if necessary, to keep your $23 rate. You may also want to research other Internet options in your area as leverage. Let us know how it goes, and good luck! Feel free to give our consumer hotline a call, 1-800-669-5556, with any questions or issues.

      • Linda F says:

        I switched my plan to Consumers Choice, which went down, but internet went way up, so the savings I thought I would see by changing the calling plan are in reality only about $12.00 p/mnth lower. Yes it’s still a savings, but not what I was expecting. Calls to speak with Supervisor have been unsuccessful, they are always in meetings and never return phone calls. I need to maintain a fast speed internet because of work I do from home sometimes and that is what AT&T claims is the culprit, they claim I changed that. Protests fall on deaf ears, I haven’t changed the internet at all, just removed expensive calling plan and switched to Consumers Choice plan.

      • Dottie Pokorny says:

        Thank you for the info. I do negotiate every year for a low Internet rate and supposedly this year it will be a permanent $23. But I know that I better make sure before I delete land line service

  11. J. Zolot says:

    AT+T routinely misleads customers in ways to direct them to buy higher priced “packages” rather than the Consumer Choice plans. Just try finding it on their website, it’s not easy. The agents are not incompetent, they are instructed to lie to customers and most people just give up and take the expensive options offered. CUB should know that this is no “small job”, it is a huge problem that AT+T is subverting CUB’s and other’s work to defend the interests of consumers. There is no mistake about it.

  12. Sam Palermo says:

    I am not surprised. The Phone company has more incompetent people there all the time and they quoted the price to an older lady I know of $169 to replace a phone jack on her wall. She told them to forget it and I put one on for free. What kind of crooks are they becoming?

    • Joanne Kurtz says:

      They tell you one thing on the phone and when the bill comes it is something else a lot more an they have pulled that more than once. ATT has been the pits since I came back up here. Had Southwestern Bell in Texas and no problems come up here and none of the phones which were not from Southwestern Bell but they instantly quit working then they claimed that they were fried No phone lasted in the house and it was always my phone not them even got them to replace the line from the pole to the house and that didn’t help. Still say the problem is ATT and what ever they have done in the area that phones and anything that has anything to do with ATT don’t last long

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