Monday, November 10, 2008
We do not fancy ourselves consumer advocates but this even way just blog worthy by all standards. We get our wireless service through AT&T. For $29.99 a month we get basic service which means on a good night we can watch an episode of the office without too many pauses. Well things being what they are right now we pay our bills on time but tend to wait toward the end of the billing cycle. Lets just say bill A was due on hmmm Friday. So Amy calls and waits on hold for 30 mins before hanging up. We call again on Saturday, same thing. Normally we would pay on line but for some inexplicable reason the message "we are currently NOT accepting payments via the website for your billing zip code." So again on Monday Amy tries but after who knows how long, she Skypes me to vent some frustration. Since may day was filled with menial brain numbing stuff I figured at least this would add some excitement.
I dialed the number at 10am. The follows as I copied the Skype chat I had with Amy during this time:
I've now been on hold for over an hour
I know %(*&^#%&%
I tried finding a place to contact them for feedback online. They are virtually impossible to reach.
They give a whole crap about customer service, eh?
I'm going to stay on the phone while I leave for a lunch meeting matt will make payment if they pick up. If not I'll be back in an hour and a half.
Back from lunch and two meetings. Still waiting.....
whoa I got through to be told "We've been in business for 100 years apparently we are doing something right" And then was put on hold again.
If you didn't catch that I put my phone on speaker and let it sit there from 10am till 3pm. That's 5 hours. I literally had lunch and then two meetings to come back and find that my call still had not been answered.
Now the part you really are reading all this for. WHEN my call was put through to a live person I explained this whole thing to her only to be told that if I wanted to pay through the phone I would be charged a $5 dollar service fee AND be charged a $20 late fee. LATE!!!! We tried for 6 hours over three days to make payment! I was no longer my normal cool self. Just to make sure the operator understood what I had just been through I explained the situation again. Her response "well, sir, AT&T has been in business for 100 years, apparently we are doing something right!"
I was able to be put through to a manger who told me she was sorry for my ordeal and offered to waive the late fees and service fee. Great! I paid my debt and was on my way- to look for a new service provider.
Technology IS great 99% of the time but I feel as though we have crossed some sort of digital divide where we can slip into the mindset that disgruntled customers are to be dealt with in no more or less a way that we do with any other technological problem- with disgust, apathy and baseless frustration. I guess what I want to remind everyone is that a simple acknowledgement of another persons experience followed by nothing less than some modicum of honesty when the words "I'm sorry" are spoken, is still the right and necessary thing.
My message to AT&T? After 100 years of business you might start to think you could never fail and it could be argued you have good reason. I would remind you that the Titanic was never supposed to sink either.
Well that was cathartic I feel....better!