AT&T Wireless / terrible service, terrible
About two weeks ago, my Samsung Epix had an epic failure--the optical mouse stopped working on it. The mouse acts like the directional pad and a select button, so the phone is severely handicapped. I use the phone for business purposes and am frequently on call. The Epix already has it's share of problems with email notifications, but the loss of function of the most important button on the device was the bottom line.
I got online and logged in to my Premier account to see when I would be eligible for an upgrade. The date given was 05/19/2009. So, I decided to call AT&T to see if there was any way to do an early upgrade, or to override my upgrade date by less than two weeks so that I could have a fully-functional work phone again.
As you can imagine, the answers were as grim as the customer service itself.
The first person told me I could do an early upgrade for a $75 fee. I was looking at the HTC Fuze as my replacement phone, and refurbished wasn't going to be a problem. The phone was listing on their site at $427, which I could not afford. By going through the process online of adding a line and stopping once I got to the pricing, I saw that the phone was running for about $249. Of course, some things need to be clarified first.
To buy a phone from AT&T, there are three methods. You can go to a retail store, you can call in your order, or you can go online. There are many different sub-methods, but that covers the basics that we'll be referring to throughout this experience.
Anyway, back to the phone call. The woman told me I needed to talk to someone in their Premier department and tried to transfer me. I didn't have time to waste on hold again, so I opted to call that number later in the day. I called and spoke to a man, told him all about my situation (see first two paragraphs), and was told that I needed to call the original line for that kind of thing. Great. That's officially a runaround.
Later, I called the main line again. Again, they routed me to Premier. This time, I talked to a guy that actually sounded like he wanted to help me. He said he couldn't do anything over the phone that would help me, but told me I could go to a store and have them do a "secure override" to give me the better pricing. He even went to the trouble to find a store that serviced Premier customers and gave me their number. It was, of course, too late to call them that day, but I was looking forward to calling them first thing in the morning.
I spent three hours trying to get someone to answer the phone at their store. Eventually, after just letting it ring about 30 times, a woman answered. I told her what the guy on the phone said, and she told me that her store isn't that kind of store after all and gave me the location of the correct store for that. *sigh*. I called the next store, and I guess this is the point where I started getting furious about the situation. A woman answered the phone with a standard greeting, and I started telling her what I'd been told thus far. Unfortunately, she was too busy talking to people in the store to actually acknowledge what I was saying. I had to repeat my story three times before she finally paid enough attention to slightly get what was going on. Her response? Early upgrade, $75 fee, come into the store. My response? *click*.
eBay became my friend for a few days. I started watching for decent deals on the phone there, but wasn't having much luck. I was starting to sweat it as my on call week was coming up. I ended up winning a bid on a phone that was missing several things that come with it retail, which included the stylus. When the phone actually arrived, it was in far worse condition than what was listed and I paid as much for it as some people were paying for phones still in the box. That's a different story for a different time, however.
I decided that the eBay phone would be temporary and that I would just try to wait for my upgrade date to see if I could get a deal and then resell the eBay phone. I logged in, checked the upgrade site, and something was different--WAY different. The notification that I wasn't yet eligible for early upgrade was still there, make no mistake. Something new was there, too, when I went to look at the refurb Fuze. There was a special offer listed that brought the phone's price to $0.
Now, under all other circumstances I've seen in the past, when I log in to the upgrade site it only shows me that which I am eligible for at that time. So, you can imagine my excitement when I saw that I was currently eligible for something good even though my upgrade time hadn't arrived yet. I started clicking through the order, and noticed that it wasn't giving me the pricing. Of course, I stopped short, but was very much not pleased. After being jerked around by the call centers and the stores, now the website was doing it, too. I felt it was time for another phone call.
I'm not going to bore you with all the details of this scenario. I was passed back and forth several times, but the end result was pretty apparent. Nobody you will ever talk to at AT&T knows anything about the website. They can't give you the same deals, they can't tell you why the site lies to you by telling you you are eligible for things you are not. All they can tell you is to wait until your eligibility is up and then see what deals are around.
Not one person, not one, ever tried to help me. Not one. Every single one of them stayed with their agenda, which is basically to take every penny they can from their customer base. I'm not naive. I realize that the concept of customer loyalty disappeared years ago. Corporations don't care about the end-user. They just take your money and leave you frustrated. I know this, because I've been with almost every major wireless carrier in the USA. To be honest, T-Mobile treated me really well, but I couldn't get service in the building where I work, so I had to switch to either Sprint or AT&T. Since Sprint is on my "never again, even if ordered" list, I tried AT&T. I'd say, given all the pros and cons, they rank with Sprint.
Back to the point. I took screenshots of what the website was showing me, just in case it was something I could ever use. Those shots are currently hosted at my personal website. I haven't been able to use them, because there isn't a department at AT&T that actually cares about them. They clearly show that I'm eligible for something that I'm not.
So, I wait until the 19th to check again. Lo and behold, the offer for the free phone is gone. All the offers are pretty much gone, and once again AT&T wins. Instead of bending very, very slightly to accommodate a customer that wouldn't have had a complaint about anything, now they've created a customer that hates every aspect of their business.
...but wait, there's more!
I mentioned earlier about not having a stylus for my crappy eBay phone. I went in to an AT&T store a few days ago to pick up a replacement, but guess what? They don't carry those. They said to go to the HTC website for that or go to Best Buy and get a generic that won't fit into the phone. It took a gigantic amount of composure to not starting kicking things in the store. Later I found out that most wireless stores don't carry stylus for their products--I called a Sprint store to see if they had one for a Touch Pro, which is their version of the Fuze, and they said the same as AT&T...not that anyone would be terribly surprised.
Still not done.
In my desperate attempts at actually getting a good deal, I repeated the process of checking to see if I was eligible for a discount via the company I work for. I knew that I was, because my online info says I should be getting a 7% discount (woohoo! 7%...) Interestingly enough, I noticed after clicking through all of that and verifying and whatnot that my monthy bill about looked a little less when I next logged in. I decided to check through my paper statements and...I hope you're sitting down...I discovered that they haven't been giving me that pricing since I started service with them over a year ago. This means another wasted afternoon of calling them and having them tell me it's my fault somehow and there's nothing they can do about it and moving forward I'll get my discount.
I've got a little news for you, AT&T: I DON'T CARE. It's a 7% discount only on the main phone, not the data plan or the messaging plan or the other two lines on the plan. It's less than $5 a month. Wow, I could have been $60 richer. At this point, though, I'm fighting for it. They OWE it to me for all the crap they continue to put me through.
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