A Customer Disengagement Story-AT&T

One week has gone by and I still cannot get my AT&T internet service working correctly.  I have been on the phone with them and my email hosting company working to get my email working for at least 1 day.  If I were to charge them for my time then they would be paying me to use their service.

Now, I understand that there are technical difficulties with any service so while I was frustrated I am willing to deal with some issues when they come up.  However, I am not willing to accept lousy service.  It started with every time I called in I was told call volumes were high by a recording.  I typically had to wait at least 15 minutes to talk with a person that could help me.  When I did talk with an agent the conversation was so scripted that it demonstrated to me that they believe service is more about them than their customer and the customer’s problem.

AT&T also does not support any email except their own; not something I was told when I switched to their service(I was actually told they would make sure it worked after install) .  In fact, not only do they not support other emails they actually have their system set up so it is actually difficult to use other email.  They block ports etc.  It is a strange problem with my email.  Sometimes I can send email and sometimes I cannot.

When it was sold to me and installed I was told AT&T would do whatever it to make sure the transition was seamless and they I would be up in running right away.  I was told that if I had any problems they would come back to fix it.  That is not what happened.  They run tests remotely and if the tests on their end say everything works then they will no longer help you.  In fact, they will try and sell you a paid service plan.  The irony is that we have both Mac’s and PC’s and both are having problems not just with email but consistent connectivity.   Sometimes we can connect, but not access certain websites or parts of websites.  It is like the AT&T system is having trouble talking with other systems.

When I called to tell them I was in a time crunch and I needed to fix a problem the rep quickly told me that they could not provide support for that problem without diagnosing what was going on.  In fact, what I have found out is that they listen for key words such as “Outlook Email” and before they even understand the problem they shut down the conversation.  So now, here is the clincher…After telling them that their service did not work, and being told by them that they could not support me, they tried to up sell me on an even larger, more expensive package and make it sound like they were doing me a favor.  What nerve.  I did receive a call back from that person’s supervisor.  They left me a message asking me to not be upset with the rep because she was only doing her job.  She then went on to say it is a standard to always to up sell a person who calls in regardless of the circumstances.  How she thought that would make me feel better I do not know.  I mean, what kind of service standard is that? A stupid one!  There is a time to up sell and there is a time not to and knowing the difference is service.

I even used their paid service support tier who was not a help at all.  They wanted to pass me back to the U-Verse people who could not help in the first place.  Nobody there cares.  They tried to tell me that Delta, GoDaddy, Apple, and Outlook, and my computer were the issues when a week ago all was fine when I was with Comcast.  I blew up!  Still did not help.

Needless to say I will be on the phone shortly to ask about cancelling the service.

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6 thoughts on “A Customer Disengagement Story-AT&T

  1. I feel your pain!
    Had the same issue wth AOL /Del and BT….scripts, internal procedures desined for the company not the customer, excuses and blame directed at other partner cos, no access to managers, over exposure of poor customer service staff (based abroad) who have to take the brunt of the inevitable abuse when the customer finally cracks! Even worse when you demand compensation as never in line with the loss and takes years off your life….and all because some job-hopping smart-arsed exec cut costs, got a pat on the back but screwed the customer interface for good (but, hey! he wasn’t evaluated on that and had left by then anyway)!

  2. Finally, I have partial resolution. I still have more that AT&T needs to fix, but after a week I have my email up and running on my computer. Thank you Lukas. The first rep I have encountered there that is customer centric.

  3. This is interesting to know! Is it a paradigm shift?

    We were (and are) always told that services in USA/Western world are seamless! They seldom go down and if they do, support is just a phone call away…..and us lesser mortals in Asian countries or 3rd world countries always believed it.

    With penetration and increasing competition of broadband, DTH, 3G mobile services etc in emerging economies, the customer services is drastically improving! As it is the only differentiating factor left in, low-cost high-volume competition.

    I seldom or never have any problem which Contact Center reps cannot solve…..at times they even wow me!!!

    The experience mentioned above could be more of an extreme example and not a generalization, I believe, but surprising nonetheless….

  4. Roshan,

    We still have great examples of customer service, but the levels seem to be dropping. Part of that is outsourcing and off shoring, automation, efficiency efforts and cost cutting. Unfortunately, the costs of these efforts typically outweigh the benefits, but it takes organizations a great deal of time before they figure that out.

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