Wednesday, October 17, 2007

AT&T Customer Service Sucks

About a month ago we got Bobby a new smartphone - the AT&T 8525. In the time since, it has ceased being able open Word and PDF documents and has crashed multiple times - as much as once per day. We decided that this was likely a faulty device and went in on Saturday to exchange it since we were within our 30 exchange/return policy.

They guy at the AT&T store said that they didn't have any other 8525 in stock, but that they now have the AT&T Tilt. We'd never heard of it, but apparently it was the next generation of the 8525 - now including GPS - and had been out for a whopping four days. They didn't have one available that day, but were expecting deliveries all week. He had one that we could play around with and suggested we call back the next day to see if they had received any.

We called back every day, and on Wednesday they had one in stock. So at the end of the day we went back down to the store. It was becoming dangerously close to the end of our 30 day exchange period, and we wanted to make sure we had a good phone.

When we explained the situation to the salesperson, we were informed that the Tilt was only available for new customers - and not available for exchange. Something about how they are only receiving a few units.

But I've signed a new contract - doesn't this qualify me? No - it's only for new customers.
"So what you are saying, is that current AT&T subscribers that are looking to enter a new contract cannot get this phone. It's only available if you are actually signing up a new number."

The rep called around to other stores in the area to see if they had a Tilt available for exchange. I tried to explain to him that I wanted him to find a Tilt period. He should not be indicating that it was "for exchange" because if they did not find us a Tilt - I was cancelling outright.

To be fair, I was irritated with AT&T before I walked into the store for a number of reasons:

  • When my grandmother had died, I went through the process of changing all the house bills into my name. My grandfather is in a nursing home, and I am now officially paying rent, so it didn't make sense to keep anything in his name. I had no trouble switching any of the bills except for the phone bill - with AT&T. The first time I called, it went fine. But then the bills kept coming to my grandfather. I called back and was told that even though I had a confirmation number - they were in the middle of switching from "the old" AT&T to "the new" AT&T. Since I was with "the old" AT&T, anything I did with them was for naught.

  • So then I needed to make the switch with "the new" AT&T. Even though I had all the required information - account number, last bill, his social security number, date of birth, drivers license, mother's maiden name - they wouldn't make the switch without actually speaking to him. As if they would even know it was him. Because their customer service hours are essentially during my work hours, I would have to take time out of work to go down to the nursing home and make a call so that he could talk to them.

  • We have AT&T DSL at my work. I'd called a few months back to see what my options were to upgrade the line - we were looking at installing a MS Exchange Server and needed a faster connection. I had talked with the rep at length regarding the different options and pricing. When I called Tuesday to make the desired upgrade, I was informed that my current bandwidth was the fastest available in my area. Then why did the rep bother giving me pricing for all those plans if I can't even sign up for it. I would have researched other broadband options for my Cap Ex proposal.

So at this point I'm becoming a little irate with AT&T Customer Service policy. I can see the reasoning behind reserving a new phone for new contracts - it assures a conitnued income stream - but not only for new customers. This tells me that AT&T does not value their current customers.

I tried my best to be assertive without making the reps feel like I was attacking them. I know Bobby thought I was being aggressive. I explained that I did not want to be involved with a company with such poor customer service and was ready to cancel not only this contract, but the other two wireless accounts, home phone, and DSL that I have with them. We had just signed up for the DSL and had not yet cancelled our cable internet. I could easily switch the phone to Vonage, and Sprint had called recently offering to pay our cancellation fees with AT&T for the wireless accounts.

Now the manager finally becomes involved. He tries to smooth things over. He offers to have AT&T send us a Tilt in the mail - then have us bring in and return the 8525.

I should not have to go through all this to purchase a phone. I should not have to fight with a company to subscribe to their service or purchase their product. We may still leave AT&T and just eBay the phone. We'll see if they improve at all.


Keith said...

AT&T is notorious for bad customer service. Well, all phone companies are, but AT&T is one of the worst.

About changing the AT&T phone bill into your name... just call them up, have Bobby rough up his voice and act old and say he is your grandfather. They will never know the difference and you'll get the phone bill changed without having to take off of work and bother your grandpa... technically, it's wrong, but so is the crap they are making you go through. Sometimes you just have to bend the rules :)

Frustated in atlanta said...

glad to see ur blog - I am on my third 8525 - I paid full price for the first one, it died almost immediately, got a replacment, it too died almost immediately (I just found out they charged me for it again because they said it had water damage when it was returned, BS, I say!) Now my third replacement phone (in my possession for a mere three weeks) looks positioned to go as well...what i do when these things get to be too much is call the charirman's office - they usually have a team of people assigned to handle complaints that get to that level - i'll b happy to give u that contact info - needless to say, no more 8525's for me

Raab said...

The 8525 is made by HTC not AT&T. AT&T has no way shape or form of making the product. They make the network not the equipment. HTC makes equipment for Verizon, T-Mobile, Nextel, etc.... I deal with this stuff everyday. If you don't like the equipment call HTC not AT&T. Anyways you should of gotten the Blackjack II or the Motorola Q heck alot better then the HTC products to be honest with you. I am a AT&T Corp employee. And I dont like the HTC products or palm treos thats a whole different story.