Problem Solvers: AT&T Accidentally Ruins Holiday Surprise

Cellphone provider changes policy to avoid future problems

AT&T has changed its survey texting policy after the NBC 5 Problem Solvers notified them of a potential issue for the holidays.

"How AT&T Spoiled Christmas;" that was the subject line in an email David Malis sent NBC 5.

Malis and his wife, Jackie, bought new iPhones as Christmas presents for their college-aged son and younger daughter over the weekend.

They daydreamed of a chilly Sunday morning when their beloved children -- whom have matured so perfectly under their guiding wings -- would unwrap their sparkly new iPhones from under the glistening Christmas tree. They pictured the look of surprise on their faces as a recording of The Fontane Sisters singing "It's Beginning to Look a Lot like Christmas" plays softly in the background.

"Thank you, dear father and mother," the Malis children might say. "You are the best parents anyone could ever ask for!"

And The Fontane Sisters would sing, "The thing that will make them ring is the carol that you sing, right within your heart."

OK. Maybe I'm elaborating a bit for dramatic effect, but you get the picture.

Those dreams of the perfect Christmas all came crashing down when David got a call from A&M University. It was his son.

"Did you guys get me a new iPhone for Christmas? I just got a text message from AT&T asking how I liked the customer service I experienced with a purchase made yesterday."


Needless to say, David and Jackie were livid.

Jackie went back to the AT&T store where they bought the phones and spoke with the store manager.

"The manager told my wife this has happened before but they did nothing wrong ... meaning they've ruined Christmas surprises for a ton of people and will continue to do so," David Malis said.

Jackie said she then spent 30 minutes on the phone with a corporate AT&T supervisor. They were offered a $25 credit as an "I'm sorry," but the Malis' turned that down.

We contacted AT&T and made them aware of the Malis's story. They apologized for unintentionally letting Malis' family learn about their new phone.

"That's certainly not the intent of the survey, and we regret that this happened," spokesperson Dale Ingram said.

"To avoid this scenario moving forward, we have suspended surveys on upgrade lines until after the holidays - a process that was already under way before Mr. Malis's family received the text."

Ingram said AT&T has also reached out to the Malis' to express their apologies.

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