Customers say AT&T denying them hundreds of dollars in deposits; Company claims it's a fee

Michael Tedesco said when he signed up for cable provider AT&T, he was told he'd have to put down $449 for a deposit. The company claims that's a one-time fee. (WSYX/WTTE)

Is it a fee? Or is it a deposit? It's a $449 question hundreds of cable customers are asking.

Michael Tedesco said when he signed up for cable provider AT&T, he was told he'd have to put down $449 for a deposit.

"I was 19 and didn't have any established credit, so they told me I had to put down a deposit," said Tedesco.

Tedesco said he was told it was insurance that he'd be able to pay his monthly bill.

He also says he was also told he'd get $5 back every month as a credit and whatever was left when he cancelled his service. That didn't happen.

"I'd been with them for two years, so that's $120," said Tedesco. "So $329 should be returned to me. But now they're saying they changed their story. That it's a non-refundable fee."

He's not alone. ABC 6/FOX 28 found dozens of complaints online with people saying they were told it was a deposit only to have it turn into a non-refundable fee. Those complaints were taken straight to AT&T.

A spokeswoman emailed ABC 6/FOX 28 this statement:

The credit management fee is in place to cover the upfront cost of service while protecting our shareholders against loss in the event a customer isn't able to pay their bill.

Tedesco said he paid all his bills.

"If I did pay my bill, then why wouldn't that be returned to me?" he asked.

AT&T also said it has other monthly video and wireless options available that don't require credit checks.

Melissa Smith, with the Ohio Attorney General's Office Consumer Division, said it's important to ask questions.

"It's helpful to ask things like 'is there a schedule of when money will be credited to my account? What happens if I leave? How long do I have to stay with the company?'" said Smith. "But what's most important, no matter what that operator says, is to make sure it lines up with what's in the contract."

ABC 6/FOX 28 asked AT&T specifically if customers were being told the $449 was a deposit as Tedesco and others have claimed.

They said, "We communicate to these customers before they sign-up that this is a one-time non-refundable fee."

ABC 6/FOX 28 then scoured Tedesco's customer service summary. Under the "one time charges and credit" column, there was a $449 credit management fee, but couldn't find an explanation for it. The word "deposit" was no where to be found.

Tedesco said he's not giving up. He just wants the remainder of his money back.

ABC 6/FOX 28 will share any updates to this ongoing story.

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