AT&T- A Customer Service Failure

Dear AT&T,

It is your old friend Jack writing you from the rugged wilderness known as Los Angeles. For the past ten years you have been the provider of my telephone and Internet service and not a year has gone by without some sort of incident. Not one year has gone without a need for a call in to your technical support to ask for assistance with some issue or other.

I dread these calls because I loathe your support. I hate being forced to call low level customer service people who are forced to use a script to try and determine what sort of issues I have.  I know the script. I know that that they are going to ask me what modem I use and what color lights it shows. I know about rebooting it and a dozen other things you’ll ask me to do. So when I call I provide that information up front and if it is requested I will do it again just in case I might have missed something.

But that has yet to be the case because they don’t deviate from the script…ever. So 25 minutes later we reach the point where they ask to put me on a short hold so that they can confer with an associate. That hold is never short and I find it hard not to become irritated because the moment I am late paying you will slap me with a fee but if I bill you for the time you make me waste you will laugh at it.

Sure, I can call back and fight for compensation and I usually get something. But that compensation comes at a price of more time and energy. It is not an easy process and I believe that to be intentional on your part. You’ll say that it is smart business to protect yourself from those who would scam you out of money. I say that you don’t understand or appreciate how valuable our time is.

The net effect here is that I so very much despise having to call you it makes my hair fall out in large clumps. It makes me want to climb on top of the roof and scream “I am as mad as hell and I am not going to take it anymore!’ Except you know that there are very few options for us to choose from and you leverage that to your advantage.

Yesterday I was forced to call you and I wasted almost two hours with tech support only to learn that I had to have a technician sent out. Did I mention that you told me that the tech would arrive between 8 AM and 8 PM today. Did I mention that when I said that was outrageous your rep told me that you are having a lot of problems and that you service people on a first come, first served basis.

I called you this morning to find out when the tech would arrive and discovered that my ticket had been closed. No one told me. Apparently there was an outage yesterday that affected my line so you decided that you couldn’t fix my problem until the outage was repaired. Well no one told me about the outage or the cancellation. WTF is wrong with you. Who is running things and may I punch them in the throat twice, once just because and the second for…well just because.

After ninety minutes I managed to arrange for a tech to come out…tomorrow because your inferior and incompetent service can’t get to me sooner. And only after much fighting with a manager was I able to secure a more reasonable window of 8-12 than the outrageous 12 hours you tried to stick me with again.

Well good for you AT&T. You should be proud that I am one of the growing number of people who think that you represent everything that is wrong with customer service.

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Comments

  1. Hi jack, I just spent thips past weekend battling with Norton. It was crazy!

    I blogged about it here: http://michaelsuddard.blogspot.com/2011/06/norton-auto-renewal-one-hand-in-your.html

    Well, gotta go to Home Depot and get some paint. The walls in my house are newly painted blue by accident, something about swearing so much about incompetant customer service. I hope you do not have the same problem as I at this juncture.

    Best of luck with AT&T.

    Michael

  2. @janetcallaway Hi Janet. There are several options but none that I find particularly good. I am told that Verizon FIOS is outstanding but it is not offered in my neighborhood. Friends and family provide similar reports about the other “players” out there.

    Part of the problem is that AT&T and other companies don’t make customer service a priority. The first level of support people are often not very well trained and as consumers we have limited power to influence them.

  3. janetcallaway says

    Jack, aloha. It amazes me that in LA you have few options. Are your other choices even worse? Hopefully, you at least feel a little better for getting this off your chest.

    Hopefully, Jack, that will be your last “issue” for the year with them. Good to know it is out of the way. Aloha. Janet

  4. @branwen1887 They won’t ever give up customer service all that will happen is a continued push to automate things as much as possible. That automation is part of what makes it so infuriating. There are simple questions that could be answered and handled faster with a human than a machine.

  5. branwen1887 says

    @TheJackB The thing, Jack, is that I’m young, but I’ve spent all of my work time being in customers service, so it’s hard for me to hear that companies don’t give a shit. If they stop caring, I’m out of a job. That plus everyone will spend their time pissed off, because whether we like it or not, we’re a consumerist society. We have to deal in these terms for the time being.

  6. @marianne.worley I think that it makes plenty of sense to try to escalate to the next level ASAP because generally they are better to work with. But the struggle to get there is what kills me. I am very polite on the phone because I know how easy is to accidentally disconnect someone or alternatively send them to the wrong person.

    It is terrible to see what we have to contend with.

  7. @branwen1887 Customers service is a dying art assuming that it ever really existed. Sadly I am not surprised in the slightest by your story. Too many companies pay peanuts to their CS staff.

  8. The July 2011 issue of Consumer Reports ranks various types of service/product providers by quality of customer service. The bottom 4: TV providers, Phone providers, Internet providers, and Computer tech support. We are all in the same boat–it’s sinking fast, and we have no life preservers. The only tip I can offer has been reasonably effective on various occasions. When I’m connected to a live person, I ask for their name. Then, I say something like: “Hi Jack, I’m hoping you can help me. I’m having problem X, and I’m trying to locate the right person to solve it. Can you help me get to the right person Jack?” I never ask the person on the phone to try to solve the problem. I always try to get them to send me to the next level of support as quickly as possible.

  9. branwen1887 says

    It sounds like the completely ridiculous run around that Dell gave me about parts that they supposedly don’t have in stock for people without a warranty. When I asked what they would do if I did have warranty, since they were “out of the part” they said that if they could not fix it, then they would make a house call. WTF are they supposed to do during a house call that they couldn’t at their factory when they don’t have the effing part. Such bullshit. And the waits on the phone are outrageous.

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