Spectrum Mobile and Why to Look Elsewhere
A sales rep in a retail store bypassed all protocols and security measures in order to create a fradulent account that was tied to my home internet account.
I want to preface the following story by saying that I completely understand that some people may have wonderful service with Spectrum Mobile and this could have been an isolated incident. That said, I do hope those of you who read this article will be cautious when doing business with this company.
This ordeal begins with a simple text conversation I had with my daughter in August. I texted her one day just to check in with her and it led to a comment from her that said something like, “By the way, I might need you to come to Spectrum with me so I can change my form of payment on my cell phone account.” This was quite an odd statement to me because she set up her mobile account with her boyfriend in April. “Why would they need me to help with that? It’s your account.” “Because they attached the mobile account to your home internet account.” That simple statement had me seeing red.
Let me back up to say that my daughter and I are not on the best of terms. She is 19 and trying to start her own adult life. We have done what we can to point her in the right direction, but she wants to figure things out herself. That way of thinking led her into a few situations where she didn’t have money to pay for bills and because of that, I haven’t been comfortable adding her to my phone contract. She is living away from home now and establishing her own life and this mobile account with Spectrum was supposed to be part of that. Now that you have that context, let’s move on.
After I calmed down from the shock I started asking my daughter questions about the account. Here is what she told me. In April when her boyfriend took her into the Spectrum Mobile store to get an account, they worked with a rep named Michael. When they asked about getting a mobile account Michael asked if they had Spectrum Home Internet service and they said, “No.” We found out later that at this point, Michael should have told them that he couldn’t help them with a mobile account unless they had the home internet first. But, he didn’t.
He took my daughter’s social security card and license. He ran the address on the license, which was still the same as my home address. Because we do have Spectrum Internet Michael told my daughter, “Hey, good news! It looks like there is home internet at your address. We can just add the mobile account on there.” My daughter then said, “That’s my dad’s account and I don’t want the mobile account linked to that internet service.” She was in the process of moving out of my house and didn’t want the service to be connected to our address or me. Michael said, “Don’t worry. The account stays completely separate, I’m running your social security number for the credit check and this will stay under your name. It’s just using your dad’s internet as the base account. As long as you keep the bill paid, he’ll never find out the two accounts are linked.”
Now, I want to point out that my daughter is not an authorized user on my account. In fact, no one except me is an authorized user on my account. According to several Spectrum employees (other than Michael), there were many points in this story where the account creation should have stopped. The fact that no one had any authorization to access the account or make changes was one of those points. Nevertheless, Michael created the account using my home internet service as the base account, my daughter’s name as the account owner for the mobile account, and her boyfriend’s debit card (with his parents address as the billing address) as the automatic form of payment, which is an account requirement.
Come to find out, the reason she needed to change forms of payment on the account was that she didn’t pay her July bill and as a result, her service was disconnected. Apparently, the debit card on file was declined and they required a new form of payment to be on the account. She went into the store with cash and they told her they couldn’t accept cash payment and she would need to change the card on file. The rep she was dealing with at that time was not Michael and so he actually followed protocol and told her that she would need the account holder (me) to authorize the change to the account. She didn’t want to involve me at first and the rep at that time was trying to help her out and suggested starting a new account. At this point, her boyfriend did have a Spectrum Internet account so the rep created her a new account attached to that Internet account. They told her then that the fees on the other account (the one attached to my home internet) would just stay waiting to be paid and nothing would happen unless she wanted to reactivate that line.
Is your head spinning yet? No? Well, I’m not done with the story…just wait. This is where I step in.
The first trip I ever made into this Spectrum store was the day my daughter informed me about this account – in August. This is important to note for later. We walked into the store that afternoon and actually talked to Michael. I told him that I wanted to have the mobile account removed from my home internet account. He asked to see my ID “just so he knew who he was talking to” and then he told us that the past due charges (approximately $140 for two months) and the full amount of the device (an iPhone 11) totaling $700 would have to be paid before they could remove the account. I told him that was ridiculous because I never authorized the account to be created.
He told us that was just how things worked and there was nothing he could do. He also tried to say that the past due charges would just remain on the account. I questioned that because I work very hard to make sure my credit is good and that all my bills are paid on time. I didn’t want this past due account to reflect poorly on me. Michael said, “Oh, you don’t have to worry about that. They (the charges) will just remain as a balance due and nothing will happen to your credit. If you want to reactivate the line you’ll have to pay them, but if you don’t they will just stay there.” I told him that was not correct that at some point Spectrum would send the account to collections and that would reflect on me because the base account (the home internet account) was in my name.
Michael tried to shrug that off and tell me I was wrong. I asked if he could check with someone else. So, he called their 800# and sure enough, the woman on the other end of the phone informed Michael that I was correct. After 120 days of the account being unpaid, the account would be sent to collections and because it was technically ‘my’ account, it would go under my name. I asked if there was anything they could do to remove the account from me. The only option that was offered was to transfer it over to my daughter, but she would need a home internet account as the base account. This is when we found out that Account 2 that was created for her was a problem. That account was run under her social security number and therefore there was a credit limit attached to the account. This credit limit had to deal with the amount of money allowed for a device. At that time, she was waiting for a second iPhone to be sent to her (the first iPhone was tied to Account 1). So, they couldn’t transfer a second mobile account line into her name because the credit limit was only allowed for one device.
At this point, we leave the store and I head home. I decided to try calling Spectrum Internet customer service and see if they could shed any light on the situation. I do want to give a lot of credit to the phone reps. I spoke with several different ones in this ordeal and each one was friendly and considerate. They all seemed to try to help as much as they could, but they had a lot of limitations. As it turns out, Spectrum Internet and Spectrum Mobile are COMPLETELY different entities within Spectrum. They have different billing departments and different customer service departments. I explained the situation to the rep from Spectrum Internet and he said, “I am so sorry. This is a tricky situation and I do have to send you over to Spectrum Mobile customer service because I can’t even access their system.”
I was connected with an amazing rep at that point. She stayed on the phone with me for the better part of an hour trying to find options for us. The final option she came up with was escalating the case to the fraud department since the account was created without my authorization. She told me that Michael should have stopped in his tracks the second my daughter said she didn’t have home internet. She also said they have very strict policies they have to follow when creating an account and it seems like he bypassed them all.
Even though I was pretty tired from all the back and forth that day, I decided to try to go back into the store that night. I figured Michael would be gone and other reps might be able to help or maybe I could talk with the manager that was there. I made my way back into the Spectrum Mobile store and I worked with a very nice rep, but unfortunately, I can’t remember his name. I told him what was going on and his eyes widen and he said, “Oh! All the pieces are falling together now. I do know who you are talking about (in reference to my daughter) and yeah, this is not how we typically work.” Unfortunately, the store manager is out on parental leave and there is no one “in charge” at this particular store. Their area manager apparently was coming into the store every day, but they claimed to never know her schedule.
So at this point, I had to start playing the waiting game. A few days after my first trip into the Spectrum store, I received an email that says, “Changes to your account have been made.” Upon further investigation, the message stated that the “authorized user was changed.” Again, I didn’t request that, so I called customer service and they fixed it, but from what I think happened, Michael might have been trying to cover his tracks and tried to add my daughter as an authorized user after I went into the store. I think that is why he wanted me to show him my ID – so he could say that I did agree to it.
I made three more trips into the Spectrum store to try and catch the area manager there and I made several calls back to customer service. On one of the trips back into the store, I ended up talking to Michael again. He recognized me immediately and tried to give me the brush off. I told him I was there to try to meet with the manager. He said, “She’s not here. We don’t know when she will be here.” I asked him if he could call the area manager to find out when she would be there. He said they couldn’t, but he could send her a message. He got pretty smart with me during this exchange. He kept saying, “She’s not here,” and, “I don’t know when she’ll be here,” instead of trying to help me in any way.
I want to pause the story here for a moment to mention how the Spectrum Mobile store had no phone number to call. The reps had business cards with their individual email addresses on them, which you could email, but they had no phone number to call. This was what Michael meant by saying he could ‘message’ the area manager. He could send her an email. I find it really hard to believe that they don’t exchange phone numbers and that as a mobile carrier store, they don’t have phone numbers. Another one of the times I went into the store, was when they first opened. There were several people waiting and only three reps to provide service. Many people were unhappy and one lady even shouted from the waiting area to say, “Don’t you have anyone else to come help?” When they said no, she left murmuring something about calling the 800# and complaining. Now, I’m sympathetic about the staffing issues, but I think they probably could have found a way to provide better service to all the people waiting.
Back to my story – Over the course of the next several days, I was given small updates to let me know that the case was with fraud and they would be contacting me. They did also tell me that the area manager should be calling me. I never heard from the area manager and I was never able to meet up with her at the store either. I did, however, end up receiving a call from Wendy a Tier 3 Customer Service rep with Spectrum’s fraud department. On the first call, she apologized for it taking so long for her to get to me. She had to do some investigating on her end before she could reach out.
After that first call, she still had to contact supervisors and employees before the case could be resolved. Even though it seemed like there was forward movement, there was no suggestion about how the cards may fall at that point. I was deeply concerned that I was going to be forced to pay the $700 for the device and the $140 for the account charges before they would remove the account. We had the phone from my daughter and were prepared to return it to them, but at that point, we didn’t know if they were going to allow that.
This led to more waiting. After it was all said and done, I believe the ordeal took about three weeks for it to be resolved. Wendy was not able to confirm what type of punishment might happen to the employees, but she did say that there were consequences for them. Spectrum did resolve the case in my favor. They ruled that since I hadn’t stepped foot in that store (I said at one point that they could check their security cameras and see that I wasn’t there when my daughter was) and that my daughter wasn’t an authorized user on the account that the account should never have been created. So, they sent me a box to return the phone and erased the account charges so that it was as if the account never existed. My daughter didn’t receive any reimbursement for the payments she did make ($70 for April, May, June = $210), but at least the account was removed.
According to LinkedIn, the employee, Michael, that committed the fraud against me is still working at Spectrum Mobile. I truly believe that this is not the first (or the last) time Michael created a fraudulent account in this manner. If he knew how to bypass certain authorization points, then it seems as though he would have learned to do that somewhere or have previous knowledge of how to do it. I also know that Spectrum provides credit to their sales reps (either in commission form or some other monetary method) for the number of accounts they create. So it seems to me that Michael knowingly committed fraud in order to get whatever credit was due to him for the account creation.
Because of this situation, I can NEVER recommend Spectrum service to anyone. This was a HUGE security breach because all the security measures (account holder social security number, account holder identity, account pin, authorized user status, etc.) were ignored in order to create this account. All Michael did was check to see that my daughter’s mailing address from her driver’s license matched an account in their system. What if it hadn’t been my account? What if it was some complete stranger? He would have just tacked the account onto the matching address and that innocent person would have never known. I truly believe he saw my daughter as an easy mark (she really doesn’t know much about creating accounts like this) and took the opportunity to pad his account creation quota.
For those of you who have Spectrum Mobile, I hope that you are happy with your service. For those of you who are considering it, I would suggest taking a deep dive before jumping into a contract with them.