Salesmen sign up Knoxville woman for bundled services, though she has no TV

KNOXVILLE (WATE) – Some people slam doors on door-to-door salespeople without giving it a second thought, but others let them in their house and say “yes” to their sales pitch.

A Knoxville woman signed up for a bundled phone TV and Internet service, but there was a hitch – she hasn’t owned a television in years.

Household ownership of television sets in the country is nearly 97 percent. Of course, that means three percent do not own a television.

Hester Stockton
Hester Stockton

When salespeople contracted to AT&T went through a neighborhood in Knoxville a few months ago, they knocked at the door of a great grandmother who falls in that three percent.

Hester Stockton, 84, has had a lifelong passion for genealogy. She works at her computer for hours a day researching information for her family and friends.

For as long as she can remember, Stockton has been a loyal subscriber to AT&T. Long ago retired, the computer is her lifeline. She has no television in her home.

When salesmen came to her door in September, she signed up for AT&T’s top of the line bundled service called U-verse.

Julie Campbell
Julie Campbell

“He sold her a U-verse contract, which includes the phone services, the internet services, both of which she had a need as well as cable television. There is a small problem with that. She doesn’t own a television,” said Julie Campbell, Stockton’s daughter.

“I didn’t really want it, but I wanted to help them out. I’m a foolish old lady,” said Stockton.

Stockton says she told the salesmen she lives on a limited fixed income. The charge for U-verse service would be $96 a month as seen in her contract.

“So, I went ahead and signed the thing to help the kids out,” said Stockton.

“This is how she has been paying her bills for years. She pays them by money order. She pays her bills by money orders because she doesn’t trust the banks. Thank you, Great Depression,” said Campbell with a laugh.

Stockton says when her first bill arrived under the new contract, the charge floored her.

The third bill arrived for $418.
The third bill arrived for $418.

“The first bill was $172. I thought well, they made a mistake. So i thought well, I’ll wait and see when they correct that. Well, the next bill that I got was $295. I said, no I can’t pay that,” said Stockton.

She says she called AT&T’s customer service, but couldn’t get a satisfactory answer. Then, the third bill arrived for $418.

“I want to go back to where we were,” said Stockton.

In late November, she received a letter saying her service was being disconnected.

“She’s confused. She hasn’t paid them because she is getting a duplicate bill. She only has a hundred dollars set aside,” said Campbell.

Stockton says she really doesn’t need that expensive bundled service since she has no TV. She says the question never came up from the door-to-door salesmen.

WATE 6 On Your Side contacted AT&T and talked with them several times about Stockton’s situation. They’ve gone above and beyond to make things right.

The company has reinstated her service and credited her bill $418.

Her new service will only include high speed Internet and voice. She will now pay $69.95 a month and will be given a $100 Visa gift card.

Although AT&T believes its vendor mentioned the TV service, the company will make sure customers fully understand what U-verse includes.

Stockton says she didn’t expect these results, but is pleased and says she hopes the salesmen don’t get into trouble.

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