The colossal ineptness of at&t

I have been a customer of at&t Uverse for two years. The first year was in an apartment complex where I had no choice. The second has been here at the home I bought in Madison, Alabama in July of last year. I had choices, but, well, not really.

Beginning in the fall of last year, we started having problems with our service. It would simply quit whenever it felt like it. This is a new home in a new subdivision, and I know there can be quirks. However, it got so bad after the first of the year that we began having repair people several times a month. By March, it went out several times a day. We knew how to reboot everything, but even so, we were given new modems time and again. Nothing ever made it go away, and our TV would go out at JUST the wrong time in programs. We twice lost our recorded programs. In March, we were without service for 3 days, and even then, it wasn’t fixed. More outages. More repair guys saying the same thing.

Our problem began advancing up the food chain, and the entire system was swapped out for a “more reliable” system in May. The at&t computers — and there are many that provide various elements — could not fix the problem, so they created a new account and basically started over. That and the new equipment solved our problem.

Or not.

I had complained to higher ups that this nonsense had cost me real money. In order to work, I had to use my Verizon hot spot, which ran up considerable charges. I also didn’t think it was right that I should be charged for service that didn’t really work. They were nice about it and credited my account. I still have a positive balance.

But not according to at&t’s computers. I began receiving dunning notices for $586.17 past due a few weeks ago. I was told not to worry. I received a particularly nasty letter on Saturday and notified my contact via text message. This morning, I woke up to blocked service with the blocked websites and the television pointing me to my account on their website. I followed the link, and, lo and behold, my balance is still zero with a credit! Whiskey, Tango, Foxtrot!

Okay, now what do I do? At 6:30 this morning, I called the at&t customer service line, 800–288-2020. I went through the tech support voice mail hell and ended up with notification that the number had changed to 800–222-0300. Why not put this up front? I dunno. On the notion that this was a billing issue and not tech support, I redialed the number, went through the entire voice mail hell again, and wound up with the same recording notifying me that the number had been changed.

So I called the new number, which is now “consumer service” and wound up with a nice lady in the Philippines. We’re not customers anymore; we’re “consumers.” She took all my information, beginning with my phone number. I need to mention that at every stop, I was required to give the phone number associated with the account, whether voice mail or in person. The Filipino gal said she needed to transfer me to a different section, and that they would be able to help me. The phone rang, and I was into another round of voice mail hell. When voice mail asked for my phone number, I started to fume again. Here is at&t, one of the biggest phone companies on the planet, and they’re unable to “capture” the number on which I’m calling. I punched in the number for the voice mail and was then asked for my account number. I was seriously angry by that time and just hung up.

I’ve called my contact in Birmingham all day long and am still without Internet or cable. I’m still being directed to my account on their website, the one that shows zero balance and a credit.

At this point, all I can really do is laugh. But here’s the thing. I guarantee you that not a single person on the management committee that created this new “consumer service” system has even once been through it. That’s what is so spectacularly arrogant about a company like this. It makes sense that a technology company would use technology to cut costs, but to come up with a system that serves no one except their bottom line is embarrassing and ineptness gone-to-seed! The disrespect of the people who pay their salaries is so stunningly beyond belief that it is truly remarkable.

And so it goes.


  1. Terry,

    I feel for you. I’ve had similar experiences with Time Warner, and Amazon. Every time I read something about how great their customer service experience is, I want to scream.

    I actually had a Time Warner tech remove the HDMI cable that was connecting my HD box to my HDTV and tell me the only way to use that box was to use the coax and turn the TV to channel 3.

    He also looked at my cable modem and told me it was working fine, even though he couldn’t reach any website. Hey, they green light said everything was fine! I, as politely as possible, suggested he should get the hell out of my house. I became a happy customer of Clear wireless internet.Only now Sprint is shutting down that service.

    I can’t tell you how many times I called Amazon over a two month period, re-telling the story of how my Kindle Fire died after a software update. (“Died” is a very short version of what happened.) I can’t tell you how many times, even on the same call, I had to repeat all of my contact information and the whole story of what happened, not to mention how many times I was told to reboot the device and reset it to factory defaults. Each time the person told me they’d contact me within 48 hours. They never did.

    One DID email me, asking me to reply with screen grabs of the error message from my Kindle. He wrote from a “no replies accepted” address and didn’t provide me an address, and clearly didn’t give any thought to how I might get a screen grab from a device that was in “brick” mode. When I called, I started the whole process over.

    Eventually, Amazon came through, after my fourth message on their Twitter page. I’m having to give TWC another chance for Internet. But it’s amazing how many times I can call, practically BEGGING them to take my money, without getting a call back. Even Twitter didn’t help.

    Unfortunately, it seems some companies are just too big to manage themselves. They treat people like dirt, then wonder why we’re all so quick to jump to alternatives when they’re available.

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