“Buyer Beware”

"Buyer Beware"

“Buyer Beware”

AT&T and U-Haul… Profitable or dishonest? Clearly, they are profitable. But could they also be dishonest?

I still like to believe in the goodness of people. When I’m asked, “Would you like to buy a cookie?” and I say, “No,” it’s expected that I walk away without a cookie because I did not buy one. Unless of course, the seller hides a cookie in my bag and takes my $8.99 without me knowing it. This is exactly what is happening too many consumers, except these companies are not selling cookies. They sell you insurance. Even worse, in the case of AT&T, this is a monthly recurring charge.

Because this has happened to me several times, I dare say it’s also happening to thousands of people. Possibly even more. I believe companies generate millions of dollars from this unscrupulous business practice. Other than my personal experiences, I do not have any factual information to back up these statements. However, yesterday’s visit to the AT&T Store to question this charge confirmed my suspicions and prompted me to write this blog post.

While this has happened to me a several times, there was a time when I caught it ‘in time.’ It happened at a U-Haul center. When I questioned the charge, the representative said, “How did that get there?” She removed the charge, processed my one time payment and I went on my way. As I drove away, I remember thinking, “I wonder how many people they do this to?” A couple years before that, I had a similar experience with U-Haul. The recent event only raised my suspicions of these unscrupulous business practices.

Yesterday, I expressed my frustration to the AT&T representative, who proved to be very helpful and surprisingly honest. I explained to him that I make it a point not to purchase insurance and it angers me to find out that companies ‘sell it’ to me anyway. I’m not sure why, but he said, “Trust me. I understand your frustration. Being in this industry, I know many reps do this but I’m not like that.” Think about what he said for a minute. He is admitting this practice. Shocking? Not te me. Note he used the word ‘industry’. This implies that perhaps he has experience or knows of other companies in the ‘industry’ who utilize this unscrupulous business practice.

During my visit, I cancelled my insurance with AT&T. I was not reimbursed or credited for these charges, nor did I expect to be. After all, it was on my receipt. My unwilling contribution simply added $200+ to AT&T’s bottom line. While I do not expect a refund, I do expect companies to conduct business in an honest and professional manner. There is nothing wrong with earning a fair dollar. However, what is wrong is earning millions by ‘hiding cookies’ in the bags of their customers even after they refused to buy any.

Buyer beware. Many of you will soon find yourselves purchasing a new phone, especially during this Christmas Season. I challenge (#NoInsuranceChallenge) you to put my experience to the test.