Action Line: Phone deal came with an unexpected surprise

June 10, 2014

Dear Action Line,

Last week, I heard from a friend that there   was a new plan offered through my cellular service provider that could lower my monthly payment.  So, I decided to visit my cell provider to get more information on the plan. I spoke to a sales representative and inquired about the new plan. The sales rep stated that new plan would also come with a new phone free of charge. This sounded like a great deal, so I switched to the new plan and received a new phone. I asked the sales rep if there was additional fees with the phone and was told I would only pay the taxes. A few weeks later, I realized that I was partially charged for the supposedly “free phone”. Besides calling the business and requesting a refund, how else can I hold the business accountable and what else can I do? 

Dear reader,

Unethical behavior in business can affect employees, the company as whole, and stakeholders. It’s good business to be ethical and to respond to customer concerns.

First, do your homework and plan your action. If your purchase involves a contract, warranty or guaranty, read all the fine print that came with it.  

The second rule is knowing your rights. Those are usually outlined in your contract or bill of sale. If you have a complaint know what you want as a resolution to the problem. Be clear in all your communications with the company about what you want to happen and your expectations.   

Talk to the manager at the location that you purchased the phone and explain your concern. If the problem is not resolved you should contact the headquarters of the company and inform them of your concern.  

Most companies want satisfied customers. Listen to the company’s side and possible resolutions; it could be better than what you are requesting. 

If you believe you have given the company enough time and the complaint is still not resolved, file a complaint with the following organizations:

  • File a complaint with your local Better Business Bureau by visiting BBB will act as a third party to help the consumer and business reach a satisfactory resolution of the problem.
  • File a consumer complaint with the Attorney General’s office by visiting By taking this step, your complaint can get to the government agency that directly regulates the business which you have a complaint against.
  • File a consumer complaint with the Federal Trade Commission by visiting According to the FTC, consumer complaints can help them detect patterns of fraud and abuse.