Tuesday, August 5, 2008

AT&T Fails Once Again

When did customer service become extinct?

I started working in retail back before I was old enough to drive. That was at the time when employees were actually trained in and customer service was the number one priority for most companies.

These days, I rarely experience great customer service and when I do, I make sure to share my experience with others. So too, do I feel compelled to share my not-so-great experiences, such as the recent catastrophe with AT&T.

The story starts two years ago when my husband decided to move out after filing for divorce. What he neglected to tell me when he started packing and found his new place of residence, was that he had our phone service transferred to his new apartment.

Suddenly, I was left without a phone (or a husband). I was bitter about many things for much too long, but it took me quite some time to get over the fact that AT&T was not responsible for leaving me "disconnected."

Fast forward to two months ago when my son and I were outside playing catch. A nice young man came by and asked if he could discuss the AT&T U-verse service plan that he was selling. Continuing with our back-and-forth game, I listened while he explained to me how I could get phone, cable and DSL service for a lower cost than I was currently spending on just cable and internet service.

We spent the next twenty minutes filling out paperwork and getting everything in place to have the installation scheduled. I was looking forward to having a land line, which I planned on using mostly for business.

I was heading out of town the following week so I had the installation scheduled for the weekend I was to be back. Since my life as a working mom with two jobs and a young boy keeps me pretty busy, the time I had chosen for the installation was ideal.

Two days before the scheduled time, I received an automated call from AT&T stating that they had rescheduled my appointment and they were going to be coming earlier than expected. Great, except that I had to be at work that day. I can't simply not show up for work. I had to give some sort of notice.

I called AT&T to reschedule the rescheduled appointment and I was told that they wouldn't have any openings available for at least another week. I really had no choice so I set up the appointment and made sure to give my employer plenty of notice that I'd be working from home that day.

Of course, no one ever showed up. Or called. After two days (I was too upset to call right away), I picked up the phone and calmly waited until a real live person was finally able to speak to me. I was then informed that someone could come out (for the third time, now) in just a few days.

By this time, I was getting ready for business trip #2 but my parents were going to be staying at my house to care for my son this time. I enlisted them to stay home that day to wait for the installation crew. Normally, I would never ask anyone to do this kind of a favor for me, but since I was having difficulty having the arrangement work, I didn't think there was an alternative.

Once again, AT&T failed to deliver. My parents called me that day to let me know that no one show up (big surprise) and that they had to call AT&T to reschedule. And, guess what? They never arrived on that day, either!

Needless to say, I had given up at this point. I didn't want to call to reschedule. I no longer wanted to save money or have the added convenience of a land line because they had cost me so much precious time and energy that I really wanted nothing to do with AT&T at that point.

Now, before I continue, I must say that my cell phone service is with AT&T but that's only because I originally started out using Cingular. I haven't had any bad experiences with my mobile service (knocking on wood), but I assume they're quite separate from the division that recently lost me as a customer.

Why am I sharing this story now? Because today I received a bill from AT&T for the month of phone service that I never used. I called the billing department and calmly shared my disappointing experience. The man quickly passed me on to someone else, who even more quickly (and without asking any questions), was able to cancel my phone service and credited my account for all charges.

You'd think that this would be the end of the story, right? That since there was no harm done (financially), I'd be thrilled to move on...

Wrong! I was more disappointed by the way the woman handled this than the fact that the installation crew never showed up when they were supposed to. Because the people who made the appointment were not the people who were to show up at my door, I felt as though there must have been some communication error or computer glitch.

The woman on the phone, however, was a real, live person. She heard my story (somehow it ended up being much shorter than this post) and never once apologized, did not ask me if I wanted to attempt to have someone come out again nor did she offer to make it up to me (not sure how she could have done that).

And what's worse? She read the required speech at the end of our conversation where she actually said, "Thank you for choosing AT&T." As if!


Jeff Tincher said...

that totally sucks. i haven't had an experience like that but my father did just recently with Comcast. he eventually got things setup.

Eric S. said...

Your not alone. Uverse came out to install for my boss. He had 3 lines at his house, Home, Business, Fax. They got the DSL and TV set up, and the home phone working. Tool all day and part of the night. The tech spent all his time on the cell phone asking how to do this, and how to do that.

The next day we were all out in the field working, no one at the shop, no problem the answering machine will catch all calls for our schedule, Our customers know whats up. The next day We start getting I rate calls on the cells from our customers.

The teach had cut all the lines, and only hooked up the home phone. Finally after two hours and some serious threats of lawsuit, they got a tech out to correct everything by sic that night.

We lost two days worth of business.

HIP_M0M said...

Jeff - Glad to hear your dad finally got things taken care of.

Eric - Losing business is never good. I'm sorry to hear about your situation. I'm glad things are in working order now.

Vanessa said...

Amazingly this is similar to my experience with AT&T except after being rescheduled once by AT&T, our service was installed. We live in Dallas, but due to a shortage of workers in our area for the new U-verse service, they sent someone who normally works in St. Louis, MO. (Yes, you read that right.) It took this gentleman 10 hours to install our cable service after which he finally told us "you can watch TV or use the internet, but not both at the same time". Since we work at home this is clearly not an option. True to his word, you could not use the internet and watch TV at the same time. I called to disconnect the service as we were within our 10 day no charge period and seeing as how the service didn't actually, you know, work, I didn't think this would be an issue. I canceled, was promised the refund was processed and a copy would be sent to my home. No copy was ever sent and I forgot about it. Forgot that is until it was turned into a collections agency. I promptly called AT&T where they handed me off to several reps, finally admitted this was an error on their part, conference called the number of the collection agency and the whole mess was straightened out. Never once did they apologize and they read me the same lawyer-created script at the end of the call! Appalling!