PDA

View Full Version : AT&T Billing and Customer Care nightmare


S E H M B
February 18th 04, 03:34 PM
Prior to November 2003, i had only one line and not too many
complaints about my AT&T wireless account.

I made a big mistake that month though, by trying the "additional line
for $9.99/month". I could almost say that since then my life has
turned into a nightmare, considering i actually did wake up in the
middle of last night and couldn't fall back asleep again thinking
about how lousy your customer service has been on me, after having
spent again hours in vain yesterday trying to rectify one of AT&T's
own billing problems, my proof of payment in hand.

It was refreshing to read in Reuters "Cingular Wins AT&T Wireless for
$41 Bln" that i'm not the only one: "In the fourth quarter, AT&T
Wireless lost customers and missed out on several hundred thousand
potential new subscribers due to technical and customer-service
problems.", and so forth....
Here's a quick summary of what went wrong so far (all phone
conversations):

I called in November to understand how the extra line would work,
since i could use one. The sales representative made everything
simple. The only thing i had to do was to extend my contract to 2
years, over the phone, i could get a free phone, and on top of that, i
could choose 2 out of a list of 3 free accessories. The whole thing
would only cost $9.99/mo extra, and minutes would be shared. Nothing
would change to my first line, in fact the second one would work
exactly in the same way.

Getting all the answers i needed, i decided to go ahead. I didn't
need the accessories, but since they were offered for free, i choose a
leather pocket for the new phone, and a car kit charger.

A few days later the phone was in the mail with the extra accessories.
Turns out neither the leather pocket, nor the new car kit charger
worked at all with the phone i had ordered (the leather pocket was for
a small flip phone, the charger had a completely different plug on
it). You get free accessories when ordering a new phone, but they
don't work with it. Smart!

It got more interesting when i received my first bill: It was about
$180, while i was expecting just $10 more than my usual (about $50).
The misfitted accessories were being billed for, and the minutes on
the second plan never got shared. It took several calls, all with
incredible waiting times (sometimes over 40 minutes), having to
convince the operators of what the sales representative had told me in
regards to the accessories, talking to 'supervisors', before
supposedly all the problems were resolved. No new bill would be sent,
instead, a ton of discounts making no sense whatsoever but somehow
adding up to what i should be credited (though i'm still not sure)
showed up on my next bill. The whole thing took so long that i the
first month were i could have exchanged the phone had almost passed
by, while i didn't experience the *real shared plan* yet, which came
with a few more surprises:

Starting about a week after that episode, my cell phone (the first
line i already had), a TDMA + GSM phone started having all kinds of
'MESSAGE TA-678687' (or whatever) randomly when trying to place calls,
while it had reception. I'm not using my cell phone much, always have
another line closeby, and with the long waiting lines and previous
weeks of experience calling your "customer service center", i just
wished it would go over. However, every once in a while i'm on call
for work a whole week, so had to be able to rely on the phone. I
called in to ask what the problem was. Again long waits, to end up
being told "as you added a second line, we turned off your TDMA
reception". When exactly did the sales representative mention this in
his sale talk in November?! Being a rather precautious person, i had
asked very explicitly if nothing would change to my line. Worst:
explaining this is not what i expected and the injustice of this all,
the only answer i could get was that "it is impossible for us to give
your TDMA reception back while having two lines". And what about this
one: "no, you cannot cancel your second line, the first month has
passed now" (the problems started occuring just a few days before the
end of the first month, and probably they only started then because
they really only made it a shared plan after 3 weeks). Unbelievable.

Seeing the futility of my talks to your "supervisors" (i wonder what
qualities AT&T is looking for in these supervisors), i accepted my
faith and switched my phone not to ever try TDMA again, and it started
working again (with, obviously, less reception).

January's bill contained all the credits for the accessories and
billing mistakes for December. It took me another call understanding
how the whole thing worked, seen that for instance i was being billed
$19.99 for the second line, not $10.00. Turned out that, one of those
many credits is a -$10,00, which would apply every month thus making
the second line $9.99. Overly complicated and confusing. I still
believe i payed an extra $5 to $10.00, which i don't mind loosing but
after all this calling and mistakes from AT&T, i would expect the
company to make sure things look in my favor, as other companies would
in such case.

Finally, comes this month's bill, and i'm being charged and extra $24
for long distance on my second line (while, btw, i earlier had placed
a separate call to AT&T to make sure this would not be billed), plus i
was being charged again for the january bill as it said i didn't pay.
I pay all my bills the same day they arrive, so i was quite surprised
about this. I checked my banking account and the correct amount was
indeed debited from my account early january.

I called "customer service" three times since. The last call took
close to 90 minutes. The first mistake (the $24 for long distance)
was fixed quite rapidly, though i wonder why i suddenly got billed for
this, and i won't really know this has been fixed until i see March's
bill, i don't have any trust in your company any longer. The second
problem though, after talking to several people and both me and my
bank having sent out proof of payments by fax, is still not fixed. I
received a letter from AT&T saying i will be disconnected if i don't
pay soon, and will be charged for $25.00 to be reconnected.
Yesterday i talked to several of your operators, including an
"accounts receivable specialist". The only thing the specialist could
say was that they did not receive my proof of payment, and told me to
fax it _again_, and check later. Having already done this in the
past, i figured it would be better that she could confirm reception of
the fax while i was on the line, but this was absolutely impossible.
I tried for more than 10 minutes to convince her otherwise, but she
stood firm: no faxes can be verified within 24 hours, not even for
customers that have spent as much time dealing with AT&T's internal
problems as i did. This is just extremely wrong. You should be able
to make such exceptions.

Since then, i have faxed the paper another 3x. By sending it, i mean
trying 10x to make it once: the fax nr (503 306 7867) is almost
always busy (even 3 times in a row, after which my fax gives up), and
when it does respond (such as now), the modems mostly do not handshake
(couldn't 5 times in a row, just now), while i have otherwise no
problems faxing.

Quick other items:

- AT&T will NEVER, EVER call you back for any of their own, internal
problems. They count on the customers, under pressure of extra fees
and disconnections, to keep calling them (and spending hours on the
phone doing so). Your "customer service center" does not have a
notion of a real ticket system. By doing so, they effictively put the
burden of the follow-up on the customer and have the customer
basically work for them.

- AT&T has some internal policies that cannot, under any
circumstances, be bent. It looks like they have been written by the
hand of God. The "supervisors"'s only job seem to be to enforce those
rules. They don't seem to understand policies should cover 99% of the
cases, but when it's in the obvious, repeated disadvantage of their
customer, and totally obvious the rules do not make sense, they still
will not bend. This i believe is asking for your customers to leave.

- i have probably placed about 10 calls in the last 10 weeks, on
average 30 minutes each. All of these were due to the problems
mentionned above, all internal AT&T wireless problems i had to deal
with. At $50/h, this means AT&T has cost me $250, about double my
payments for that period.

- AT&T holds their customers hostage by, at multiple times, refusing
to disconnect service and call it quits after it has been clear that
the service is unacceptable. Instead, AT&T seems to enjoy reminding
their customers that they will keep being charged every month if they
try to do so.

While i paid for both january and february in the meantime, i'm about
to be disconnected while having the proof of payment in my hands.

Bravo AT&T Wireless, you definately are No 1 in worst service ever.
You just reinvented the "the customer is always right" concept.

Tim
February 19th 04, 04:44 AM
I had a lot of problems with AT&T it took me month of calls to customer
service and it never got straightened out. They seem to loose a bunch of
towers they were leasing in my area so I couldn't use my phone. Ever time I
talked to customer service they told me it says in the contract they can
change there coverage area any time with out notice.
That doesn't seem fair I have to pay my bill every month but they don't have
to have coverage in my home area.
Most of the time when I called customer service ( at least 10 different
times) about the no reception problem. They told me the phone was bad and I
needed to buy a new one. But I knew it was ok because on the job site where
my phone didn't work any one who had AT&T there phone didn't work either.
Finally I got a hold of a customer service rep that told me that they lost a
bunch of towers that is why I had no service in my area. I explained to her
that I should be let out of my contract with out paying the cancellation fee
because I didn't have service in my area any more. She said ok and it was
all done at the end of the billing cycle.

Now I have Alltel and I am very happy.

Good luck with you problem. I will never go back to AT&T !!!

"S E H M B" > wrote in message
om...
> Prior to November 2003, i had only one line and not too many
> complaints about my AT&T wireless account.
>
> I made a big mistake that month though, by trying the "additional line
> for $9.99/month". I could almost say that since then my life has
> turned into a nightmare, considering i actually did wake up in the
> middle of last night and couldn't fall back asleep again thinking
> about how lousy your customer service has been on me, after having
> spent again hours in vain yesterday trying to rectify one of AT&T's
> own billing problems, my proof of payment in hand.
>
> It was refreshing to read in Reuters "Cingular Wins AT&T Wireless for
> $41 Bln" that i'm not the only one: "In the fourth quarter, AT&T
> Wireless lost customers and missed out on several hundred thousand
> potential new subscribers due to technical and customer-service
> problems.", and so forth....
> Here's a quick summary of what went wrong so far (all phone
> conversations):
>
> I called in November to understand how the extra line would work,
> since i could use one. The sales representative made everything
> simple. The only thing i had to do was to extend my contract to 2
> years, over the phone, i could get a free phone, and on top of that, i
> could choose 2 out of a list of 3 free accessories. The whole thing
> would only cost $9.99/mo extra, and minutes would be shared. Nothing
> would change to my first line, in fact the second one would work
> exactly in the same way.
>
> Getting all the answers i needed, i decided to go ahead. I didn't
> need the accessories, but since they were offered for free, i choose a
> leather pocket for the new phone, and a car kit charger.
>
> A few days later the phone was in the mail with the extra accessories.
> Turns out neither the leather pocket, nor the new car kit charger
> worked at all with the phone i had ordered (the leather pocket was for
> a small flip phone, the charger had a completely different plug on
> it). You get free accessories when ordering a new phone, but they
> don't work with it. Smart!
>
> It got more interesting when i received my first bill: It was about
> $180, while i was expecting just $10 more than my usual (about $50).
> The misfitted accessories were being billed for, and the minutes on
> the second plan never got shared. It took several calls, all with
> incredible waiting times (sometimes over 40 minutes), having to
> convince the operators of what the sales representative had told me in
> regards to the accessories, talking to 'supervisors', before
> supposedly all the problems were resolved. No new bill would be sent,
> instead, a ton of discounts making no sense whatsoever but somehow
> adding up to what i should be credited (though i'm still not sure)
> showed up on my next bill. The whole thing took so long that i the
> first month were i could have exchanged the phone had almost passed
> by, while i didn't experience the *real shared plan* yet, which came
> with a few more surprises:
>
> Starting about a week after that episode, my cell phone (the first
> line i already had), a TDMA + GSM phone started having all kinds of
> 'MESSAGE TA-678687' (or whatever) randomly when trying to place calls,
> while it had reception. I'm not using my cell phone much, always have
> another line closeby, and with the long waiting lines and previous
> weeks of experience calling your "customer service center", i just
> wished it would go over. However, every once in a while i'm on call
> for work a whole week, so had to be able to rely on the phone. I
> called in to ask what the problem was. Again long waits, to end up
> being told "as you added a second line, we turned off your TDMA
> reception". When exactly did the sales representative mention this in
> his sale talk in November?! Being a rather precautious person, i had
> asked very explicitly if nothing would change to my line. Worst:
> explaining this is not what i expected and the injustice of this all,
> the only answer i could get was that "it is impossible for us to give
> your TDMA reception back while having two lines". And what about this
> one: "no, you cannot cancel your second line, the first month has
> passed now" (the problems started occuring just a few days before the
> end of the first month, and probably they only started then because
> they really only made it a shared plan after 3 weeks). Unbelievable.
>
> Seeing the futility of my talks to your "supervisors" (i wonder what
> qualities AT&T is looking for in these supervisors), i accepted my
> faith and switched my phone not to ever try TDMA again, and it started
> working again (with, obviously, less reception).
>
> January's bill contained all the credits for the accessories and
> billing mistakes for December. It took me another call understanding
> how the whole thing worked, seen that for instance i was being billed
> $19.99 for the second line, not $10.00. Turned out that, one of those
> many credits is a -$10,00, which would apply every month thus making
> the second line $9.99. Overly complicated and confusing. I still
> believe i payed an extra $5 to $10.00, which i don't mind loosing but
> after all this calling and mistakes from AT&T, i would expect the
> company to make sure things look in my favor, as other companies would
> in such case.
>
> Finally, comes this month's bill, and i'm being charged and extra $24
> for long distance on my second line (while, btw, i earlier had placed
> a separate call to AT&T to make sure this would not be billed), plus i
> was being charged again for the january bill as it said i didn't pay.
> I pay all my bills the same day they arrive, so i was quite surprised
> about this. I checked my banking account and the correct amount was
> indeed debited from my account early january.
>
> I called "customer service" three times since. The last call took
> close to 90 minutes. The first mistake (the $24 for long distance)
> was fixed quite rapidly, though i wonder why i suddenly got billed for
> this, and i won't really know this has been fixed until i see March's
> bill, i don't have any trust in your company any longer. The second
> problem though, after talking to several people and both me and my
> bank having sent out proof of payments by fax, is still not fixed. I
> received a letter from AT&T saying i will be disconnected if i don't
> pay soon, and will be charged for $25.00 to be reconnected.
> Yesterday i talked to several of your operators, including an
> "accounts receivable specialist". The only thing the specialist could
> say was that they did not receive my proof of payment, and told me to
> fax it _again_, and check later. Having already done this in the
> past, i figured it would be better that she could confirm reception of
> the fax while i was on the line, but this was absolutely impossible.
> I tried for more than 10 minutes to convince her otherwise, but she
> stood firm: no faxes can be verified within 24 hours, not even for
> customers that have spent as much time dealing with AT&T's internal
> problems as i did. This is just extremely wrong. You should be able
> to make such exceptions.
>
> Since then, i have faxed the paper another 3x. By sending it, i mean
> trying 10x to make it once: the fax nr (503 306 7867) is almost
> always busy (even 3 times in a row, after which my fax gives up), and
> when it does respond (such as now), the modems mostly do not handshake
> (couldn't 5 times in a row, just now), while i have otherwise no
> problems faxing.
>
> Quick other items:
>
> - AT&T will NEVER, EVER call you back for any of their own, internal
> problems. They count on the customers, under pressure of extra fees
> and disconnections, to keep calling them (and spending hours on the
> phone doing so). Your "customer service center" does not have a
> notion of a real ticket system. By doing so, they effictively put the
> burden of the follow-up on the customer and have the customer
> basically work for them.
>
> - AT&T has some internal policies that cannot, under any
> circumstances, be bent. It looks like they have been written by the
> hand of God. The "supervisors"'s only job seem to be to enforce those
> rules. They don't seem to understand policies should cover 99% of the
> cases, but when it's in the obvious, repeated disadvantage of their
> customer, and totally obvious the rules do not make sense, they still
> will not bend. This i believe is asking for your customers to leave.
>
> - i have probably placed about 10 calls in the last 10 weeks, on
> average 30 minutes each. All of these were due to the problems
> mentionned above, all internal AT&T wireless problems i had to deal
> with. At $50/h, this means AT&T has cost me $250, about double my
> payments for that period.
>
> - AT&T holds their customers hostage by, at multiple times, refusing
> to disconnect service and call it quits after it has been clear that
> the service is unacceptable. Instead, AT&T seems to enjoy reminding
> their customers that they will keep being charged every month if they
> try to do so.
>
> While i paid for both january and february in the meantime, i'm about
> to be disconnected while having the proof of payment in my hands.
>
> Bravo AT&T Wireless, you definately are No 1 in worst service ever.
> You just reinvented the "the customer is always right" concept.

GlennS
February 19th 04, 05:32 AM
On Wed, 18 Feb 2004 23:44:35 -0500, "Tim" > wrote:

>But I knew it was ok because on the job site where
>my phone didn't work any one who had AT&T there phone didn't work either.

That's the best way to tell. It's best to use that test
before you decide on a plan, in the places where you will be using it
(home, work, etc).
I have four Alltel accounts, and they all work OK at my house.
A friend about three miles away called me and asked if I'd come and
check her new Alltel phone, because it wouldn't work. I went there,
and mine didn't work, either. She lives in a dead spot. I told her
to ask people with other carriers to see if their phones worked at her
house. Some did, some didn't.

>Now I have Alltel and I am very happy.

Me, too. Me, my wife, and both daughters all have our own
1000 min/ $39 plans. The bill is always correct, and I've never been
overcharged in the many years I've been with them.

>Good luck with you problem. I will never go back to AT&T !!!

I said that after I tried their Internet service. It was
horrible. I hear it's better now, but I won't find out personally.
AT&T does have the best phone cards, though, if you travel a
lot. They work most anywhere, unlike the Sprint cards.

Glenn S.

Tim
February 19th 04, 10:26 PM
I did test it before I signed up with AT&T. It worked great in my area for
over a year. Then they lost a bunch of towers in my area. That is why it
didn't work any more.
"GlennS" > wrote in message
...
> On Wed, 18 Feb 2004 23:44:35 -0500, "Tim" > wrote:
>
> >But I knew it was ok because on the job site where
> >my phone didn't work any one who had AT&T there phone didn't work
either.
>
> That's the best way to tell. It's best to use that test
> before you decide on a plan, in the places where you will be using it
> (home, work, etc).
> I have four Alltel accounts, and they all work OK at my house.
> A friend about three miles away called me and asked if I'd come and
> check her new Alltel phone, because it wouldn't work. I went there,
> and mine didn't work, either. She lives in a dead spot. I told her
> to ask people with other carriers to see if their phones worked at her
> house. Some did, some didn't.
>
> >Now I have Alltel and I am very happy.
>
> Me, too. Me, my wife, and both daughters all have our own
> 1000 min/ $39 plans. The bill is always correct, and I've never been
> overcharged in the many years I've been with them.
>
> >Good luck with you problem. I will never go back to AT&T !!!
>
> I said that after I tried their Internet service. It was
> horrible. I hear it's better now, but I won't find out personally.
> AT&T does have the best phone cards, though, if you travel a
> lot. They work most anywhere, unlike the Sprint cards.
>
> Glenn S.
>

Google