AT&T Uverse / terrible customer service
This is the letter I sent to AT&T Corporate:
This letter is an explanation of why we decided to cancel our installation with AT&T U-verse. The sequence of events that led to this decision would be laughable if they were not true. We are now satisfied Time-Warner customers, and the following explains why.
On March 31st, 2009 at 7:37pm I scheduled installation with AT&T U-Verse for high speed internet, digital phone, and cable TV service. I was initially surprised that the earliest appointment we could get was Sunday, April 12th, 2009, almost two weeks later, but attributed that to your system’s popularity.
On that Sunday, I was visiting relatives in Missouri, so my husband met the technician. After about 20 minutes the technician told my husband that there was no signal at our house and that external work would have to be done in our area in order to complete the installation. Here is where the story gets interesting.
The technician told my husband that someone would call him when the problem was fixed so that we could reschedule the installation. No one called on Monday, so on Tuesday, April 14th, 2009, my husband called AT&T, trying to find out what was going on. He talked to several customer service representatives, none of whom could tell him what was going on with our installation. He was told that someone would call him back and let him know the situation. But, no one called him on Tuesday, or on Wednesday.
I returned to Austin late Wednesday afternoon. When my husband returned from work that day, he announced that he had spent at least two hours that day on the phone with AT&T, trying to get some information. He finally got in touch with someone in the Engineering department who (does this sound familiar?) said that someone would call us back. Are you surprised to find out that no-one returned our call?
Wait, this gets better. On Thursday, April 16th, 2009 I took over the AT&T chase. The first customer service employee I talked to was named Chris. I have to tell you, everyone I talked to tried very hard to help me. They were invariably friendly and personable, but totally ineffective in getting our problem resolved. So, Chris looked at our record. He said that it looked to him like our problem HAD been resolved. This was interesting, since no-one had called to let us know, but never-mind. Chris went ahead and rescheduled our installation. He wanted to reschedule it for Monday, April 20th, but I told him I had a doctor’s appointment that morning. He found what appeared to be an available appointment on Friday morning, April 17th. I told him to go ahead and schedule our installation for Friday, which he assured me that he had done. I also decided at this point to make an appointment with Time Warner as well. If AT&T couldn’t get us installed by Tuesday, April 21st then our business would be going to Time-Warner instead.
Our appointment was supposedly between 8 and 10 am on Friday, April 17th. At 9 am on Friday I called dispatch, just to make sure everything was on schedule. But dispatch had no record of our appointment on Friday! They had us set up for an appointment on Monday morning, in spite of the fact that I had told Chris that would not work.
So, it was back to customer service for me. This time my customer service rep was named Yvonne. Like everyone else she was unfailingly polite and attempted to be helpful. However, she thought putting me on hold was the way to go, which she did as she tried to figure things out. I watched the clock, and I was on hold for a total of 45 minutes with Yvonne, during which time she could not tell if the problem on our line was resolved or not. She finally told me that she was trying to talk to dispatch and engineering and seeing if they could get someone out to our house the following day (Saturday). She PROMISED me that someone would call us back – either her or her manager. Yvonne sounded very sincere, and I think she was, but the system thwarted her too. No one returned my call.
Around 3 o’clock that afternoon I received an automated message from AT&T confirming my appointment for Monday morning April 20th! This flabbergasted me. I suppose AT&T had decided that by golly I was going to have that appointment on Monday morning whether I wanted it or not.
By this time I was feeling a bit fatalistic about it all. Part of me really wanted AT&T to show up Monday morning while I was at the doctor’s, but I went ahead and followed the prompts to speak to an operator. This time I talked to someone named Frank. Frank probably thought I was a bit crazy. The first thing I said was – don’t put me on hold, I’ve been on hold enough today! Frank assured me that he never put anyone on hold, and that he always called people back. I started laughing. I said well okay then, let’s hang up and you call me back. If you call me back you’ll be the first person from AT&T to have actually followed through on that promise!
So we hung up, and lo and behold! Frank DID call me back. I was impressed. I guess if you lower expectations enough through poor service eventually your customers are grateful for whatever slivers of respect they can get!
The best Frank could do for me by then was an appointment on Tuesday, April 21st between 12 and 2. Time-Warner was looking better all the time, but I let the appointment stand.
Over that weekend my husband and I discussed the situation and finally came to a conclusion. It simply was wrong for us to go ahead and install services from AT&T at this point. AT&T no longer deserved our business and should not be rewarded for the way they had treated us this week.
On Monday I called AT&T one last time to cancel our appointment. This time I talked to someone named Terri. Terri went through the usual litany of how you all were so sorry to lose our business and was there anything they could do to win back our service? I told her that at this point there was nothing they could do to make me change my mind, but if they wanted to give us a month of free mobile phone service to make up for the inconveniences we had suffered, well that would be great. Strangely, Terri did not take me up on my suggestion. She did, however, really, really want to put me on hold. I decided to pass on that, and terminated our call.
I know this is a long letter, but it was a very long week for us. I honestly feel sorry for the many nice people I talked to at your company this week that tried so hard to help me but were stymied at every turn by what appears to be a broken system.
We are now happy and relieved to have all of our services installed by Time-Warner. Rest assured that if anyone asks me which cable/internet/digital phone provider I would recommend, I will be happy to tell them my story.
A copy of this letter will be going to the Austin-American Statesman, the Better Business Bureau of Austin, and to Angie’s List.
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