SAT&TAN At Your Service

Back in May I posted about a run-in with AT&T regarding their clodpate-driven customer service.  While I realize that experience makes me unique as an H2O molecule, I mention it because since then I’ve had two more, both entirely different issues.  The first of these inspired a complaint to AT&T — see below.

The problem began one afternoon without warning: my Outlook program began downloading emails by the hundred, most of which I had already deleted, some days before.

att-becomes-evilMy tech advisor suggested I visit my webmail server to see if there might be a very large message or oversized attachment.  She told me that she has seen this before, and quite often the problem could be resolved by deleting that message.

I attempted to access my Att.Yahoo webmail account but was blocked by a screen with a message that read TODAY’S THE DAY.  The display on this screen was so tiny I couldn’t quite read the print no matter how large I made the screen.  I could see two (large) options: SWITCH NOW and MANAGE ADVERTISING.

This seemed suspicious.  Switch to what?  Whose advertisement was I reading?  Manage WHAT advertising?  Who was this aimed at?  What happened to my webmail?  I exited, tried again, and ended up in the same screen.  So I called.

It took about 15 minutes to reach the first agent who had no idea what screen I was looking at.  This agent spent about 40 minutes with me trying to resolve the problem with a series of strange questions that achieved nothing.  Eventually, s/he put me on hold, and then I was cut off.  Nobody called me back.

My second call was handled by an apologetic agent who promised she wouldn’t cut me off.  I related my problem, and she said she’d connect me to customer service.  She also said if I didn’t reach customer service, I should call a number she provided.  After 10 minutes of hold button music, I disconnected and dialed that number.  It led to a recording telling me the number was no longer in service, and advised calling 866 294 3464.

My third call (to that number) went to another agent who didn’t know what the screen was, but told me I needed to speak with something that sounded like “Connect Tech.”  She connected me.  That agent told me he didn’t know what the blocking screen was, and for him to provide help I needed to sign up for an account at a certain rate.  I told him I needed to talk to somebody else because he didn’t know his ass from his elbow.  We’re 90 minutes into the work day and my email is still spastic, I’m getting nothing done, and my telephone/internet company is acting like healthcare.gov on steroids.

The fourth person actually knew what the screen was, and told me it was to implement a mandatory update to the system, not a sales push or switch to another product or service.  I asked where on the screen (or anywhere else) this information was available.  She didn’t know.  I asked her how, if she (an employee) didn’t know, I (a mere consumer) was supposed to know.  She didn’t know that, either.  I asked her why the people who designed AT&T’s web pages didn’t know the difference between “Mandatory Upgrade — No Charge” and “Switch Now!! Which sounded like a cable company’s act of piracy”  She didn’t know.

But she did know that even though she wasn’t authorized to monkey around with “agents” — meaning the software products such as Outlook that handle the transition from server to customer’s computer — there were some settings to change (which she did remotely, explaining everything as she went along).  She said the problem would be resolved if each and every day instead of just going to my Outlook program for email, I went to webmail first and deleted what I didn’t want.  Otherwise, no matter what, email on the server would continue to populate my Outlook program even if I deleted it from (only) my Outlook program.  And she said this was the way it would be for any agent, not just Outlook.

I asked her whose idea this was — and was this ultimately an invitation to dump AT&T?  Why would AT&T implement a change that would literally double the workload of users who used Outlook and other agents — a number in the millions.  She couldn’t say.

So I asked to speak to somebody who could answer these questions, and she put me on hold.  Which I gave up on after about 15 minutes, but amazingly, she called me back and said somebody from AT&T would call me to talk about my concerns within 15 minutes.  But nobody did.

So the next day I called up and asked to speak to somebody who could answer my questions, and the person who finally came to the phone gave me this email address and invited me to put everything in writing.  Q.E.D…..

……but with one more point:  As helpful as the representative was, my email is now working fine — I do NOT need to visit webmail every day to delete emails, and Outlook has stopped downloading deleted messages.  So although she fixed the problem, her counsel was simply wrong.

This is terrible service.  AT&T needs to do a better job on so many levels, beginning with informing its customers about changes, providing step-by-step instructions when mandating those changes, and educating its agents as to its own practices and procedures.  And the wait-time for assistance is outrageous.

Is there a human being to whom I could speak about these concerns?

Answer to that final query: No.  Or at least, nobody ever called.  Evidently the suggestion to commit it all to writing was their way of providing therapy so I wouldn’t feel the need to keep badgering them.  I imagine my complaint is filed electronically with thousands just like it, doubtlessly in a folder describing them as execrable irrelevancies to be ignored.  Or maybe it went to a Nigeria-based scammer to be incorporated into a How To Fuck With People training manual.

I can only conclude that AT&T doesn’t really want my business, and is gambling on the supposition that dumping them — which means telephones, cellular service, and internet access — would be an even greater pain in the ass.  Besides, is there any genuine assurance that whoever I switch to will be any better?

Your thoughts are welcome.

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5 Responses to SAT&TAN At Your Service

  1. Hugh Bris says:

    At the risk of adding insult to injury (not that I mind when it’s somebody else), What did you expect? Competent polite service? Was that EVER in the offing from AT&T? You and Toto must really miss Kansas, too.

  2. Ruh Roh says:

    Fed up with AT&T, I dumped them and went to Verizon. Now guess what — I’m fed up with Verizon, too, because Verizon flings the same crap that honked me off at AT&T. Forget about being happy, or even satisfied. Go with what irritates you the least.

    • Frank of Oregon says:

      @Ruh Roh You know the same crap goes on WITHIN the industry as well, where employees from AT&T get fed up and migrate to Verizon and elsewhere, as do they all. So basically we’re dealing with the same people just changing uniforms! Sort of like the NFL!

  3. Wonton Amaro says:

    The worst part of calling AT&T is the hold button music punctuated by shrill admonitions about texting and driving. Bite me, AT&T.

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