According to former AT&T employees, the company forced employees to use unethical ways to get customers to sign up for DIRECTV NOW which then forced the customers to pay for the service, unexpectedly. The Hawaii News Now spoke with several AT&T employees, which did include some fired employees that were fired for selling DIRECTV NOW in the very way AT&T told them too. The employees said that AT&T encouraged them to "manipulate sales". AT&T's top salesman in Hawaii, Abraham Buonya, stated that AT&T engaged in some very questionable practices to get customers to sign up for DIRECTV NOW. The service which now has around 1.46 million subscribers.
The biggest tactic is something that carriers have been doing for years – and many have been caught and sued by regulators for it. Representatives would offer the trial to customers and then promise to cancel it on their account before it would automatically renew and charge them $35. However, it is against AT&T's policy to cancel the trial for subscribers (which is normal for any company, actually), but representatives were told to do it anyways. Which means that sales representatives were signing people up with the intention of never cancelling the service for the customer. That meant that the customer was charged $35 for the first month, and if the customer didn't notice it or cancel the service, that would continue until it was cancelled. Which if the customer is someone that does auto-pay, they may not even notice the difference. This also means that AT&T was likely dealing with a number of angry customers wondering why their bill went up $35 in a single month – which for some customers, that could be nearly a 33-percent increase in their monthly AT&T bill.
AT&T did tell the Hawaii News Now that last fall "we detected some simultaneous customer orders and cancellations of a free product trial." AT&T continued by saying that it had "determined some employees had violated our policies and based on our findings we took appropriate action." AT&T did also state that all customers that had unauthorized charges were refunded. Now, AT&T did not admit to pushing these unethical tactics to push sales, nor confirm that those that were pushed into signing up for DIRECTV NOW were refunded, just those "unauthorized charges" were reversed.