AT&T Managers Reportedly Encouraged Unethical Sales Tactics to Sell More DirecTV Packages

June 25, 2018, 10:50 AM UTC

Former AT&T employees in Hawaii have accused the company’s managers of pressuring them to use dodgy sales tactics when getting people to start using the DirecTV Now streaming service.

AT&T (T) fired at least six people earlier this month over the unethical tactics. The staffers apparently told customers they could try out DirecTV Now for a month without paying, and the salespeople would cancel their trials before they turned into paid subscriptions.

In some cases, the cancellations never happened, and people started paying $35 a month for the service without having agreed to become subscribers. AT&T said it reversed those charges when it found out what happened.

“Last fall, we detected some simultaneous customer orders and cancellations of a free product trial,” AT&T told Hawaii News Now. “We determined some employees had violated our policies and based on our findings we took appropriate action.”

According to the news service, several of the sacked employees say managers told them how to manipulate sales, even though AT&T policies forbid such behavior. Then, when an internal investigation uncovered the activity, the employees were fired.

“We were told by managers to cancel [the trials] to avoid any future headaches but a lot slips through the cracks,” said Abraham Buonya, one of the employees, who had apparently been AT&T’s top salesman in the state for several years.

The former employees said managers had encouraged unethical tactics in order to hit sales quotas. This apparently extended beyond the promise of cancelled trials—sales representatives allegedly told new cellphone customers that they would have to pay a fee when they buy a new cellphone, but the fee would be waived if they also agreed to trial DirecTV Now.