I have been an ATT wireless customer for some years. I was a Cingular customer, until ATT bought them out. I was unsure about the switchover, since I’d already had wonderful (NOT) customer service issues with ATT home telephone service and ATT broadband service over the years. But, it was easier to roll into the new company than look for a new carrier at that point, so we just got in the canoe and went with the flow.
I have had my first real problem. After being a customer for 5 years, and adding lines here and there for kids and my mother, we finally let one go to another carrier. My oldest, who is almost 19, working full time, and getting ready to move into his first apartment, ported his number over to Spring and their “all-in-one” plan. For about $100 a month he has unlimited everything. This plan should do him well, considering he was receiving and sending about 6,000 text messages a month and using up our shared minutes as if they were unlimited (they aren’t).
This month’s ATT bill brought a surprise $175 early termination fee on a phone that we’d had on our plan for more than two years. The first customer service representative I talked to insisted that the phone had only been on our plan for 16 months and that “the timestamp on the computer says so.” I’m not kidding, that was what she said. I had to raise my voice before she’d get me to a supervisor to straighten out the issue. In the end, I got the $175 credited to my account.
What really bugs me is that low-level customer service reps are given so little power to fix mistakes or make changes. I knew that once I got a supervisor, whether I could prove the date was wrong or not, would give me the credit. They’ve made their money on us for the last five plus years, and will continue to make money on us for many years to come as long as we maintain our service. I was very blunt with the customer service rep when I told her that I was not opposed to taking my $200 a month somewhere else by switching carriers. But she could (and would) not do anything about the mistake. It took a supervisor to make that change.
Sometimes, doing the right thing is to make the right decision at the first point of contact. I understand they want to keep every penny they can get from us, but when it was obvious that there was an error, the problem should have been resolved right then and there. I spent almost an hour on the phone correcting something that could have been done in five minutes or less, had the customer rep had the training and been given the power to Do The Right Thing in the first place.
This can be a learning experience for many of us. I deal directly with lots of faculty clients, and there are times I “pass on” a problem to another tech for a variety of reasons. But sometimes, those reasons are pretty thin, and I should be better about solving problems as a first line of defense for our clients. I vow to do a better job of that in the future. No one likes to get passed around from one to another until a simple problem is solved.