This past weekend, AT&T quietly changed one of its longest-standing customer policies concerning new customers when it cut its new customer satisfaction policy from 30 days to the now standard 14 days. In doing so, it has now fallen in line with the rest of the industry concerning the amount of time new customers have to make sure they are truly satisfied with their chosen phone/device and service plan.
The change comes at a time of increased scrutiny from manufacturers as they rush products to market which will invariably feature launch issues that would need to be corrected with software and hardware fixes if necessary. However such issues do not conveniently pop up within a 14-day or even 30-day period, making the issue more pronounced, as after the 14 day period, customers that wished to cancel service without an ETF would then be subject to one.
The shortened return policy also affects third-party dealers that feature their own 30 day policy, as the dealer would have to inform the customer of AT&T’s changes to the corporate policy. Those dealers that failed to do so would then invariably face the wrath of the customer for not properly informing customer about the shortened AT&T policy being separate from the store policy, though the store would simply need to let the customer know that the contract must be canceled by the 14th day to avoid the ETF.
On top of the change, AT&T also has yet to clarify how these changes would affect customers in California, as the state mandates a 30-day return policy with no exceptions. As the other carriers feature exemptions for the state that allow a 30-day return policy, it’s expected that AT&T will feature a similar clause regarding the return policy for that state with little issue.
After all is said and done, the trend to cut return policies back to 14 days from the more customer-friendly 30-day periods is a reflection of the lack of respect that larger carriers have been showing towards postpaid customers as of late. 14 days is not enough time to figure out whether a phone will fit a certain person’s lifestyle, especially when it comes to the recent wave of Android flagships with issues and the recent issues surfacing with the iPhone 5 such as sub-par Maps, camera haze issues and build quality problems.